Emerson Charles Denny


Services will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, January 16, 1984, at the First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls, for Dr. E. C. Denny, 96, emeritus professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, who died Thursday, January 12, 1984, at the Western Home, where he had lived the past four years.

Denny was known throughout the nation for his published tests, most notably the Denny-Nelson American History Test for grades 7 and 8, first published by the World Book Company in 1929, and the Nelson-Denny Reading Test, first published by Houghton-Mifflin Company in 1930.

"The Nelson-Denny instrument, appropriate for high school and college and adult groups, has been a leader in the field, and is still published by the Riverside Publishing Company," wrote Dr. Gordon J. Rhum, UNI professor of education, in a 1982 letter about his former colleague.  "Revisions by the current authors reflect the Nelson-Denny philosophy . . . .

"Dr. Denny enjoyed teaching.  His specialties were individual mental testing and child psychology.  Students found him effective and personable as an advisor, and were attracted to his informed, relaxed, balanced, encouraging instructional approach ."

Among other significant professional contributions, Denny was one of the founders of the National Council on Measurement in Education, in 1938.  He served as its president from 1942-1946, and remained as a member of its board of directors for many years.

He was born Emerson Charles Denny, August 15, 1887, in Madison, Indiana, a son of Effa L. and John J. Denny.  He received the B. A. degree from Indiana University in 1914, the M. A. from the University of Chicago in 1916, and the Ph. D. from the University of Iowa in 1932.

Denny married Blanche Blackburn August 22, 1917, in Hudson, Indiana.  She preceded him in death in 1968.

Denny served as a teacher, school principal, and superintendent in Indiana rural schools; taught at Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Berea (Kentucky) College; was head of the education department at Teachers College, Lewiston, Idaho; and served with the U. S. Army in England, France, and Germany during World War I, prior to joining the UNI faculty (then Iowa State Teachers College) as an assistant professor of education, in 1923.

He was named professor of education in 1924, and served fifteen years as head of the Department of Education from 1934-1949, before returning to full-time teaching.  He retired in 1955, becoming an emeritus professor, and continued to teach on a part-time basis until 1967.

Among his many memberships, Denny was a member of Phi Delta Kappa education honorary, the National Education Association, Iowa State Education Association, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the National Council on Measurement in Education.  He served on numerous University committees, and was a member of the Cedar Falls Rotary, the American Legion, and the First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls.

In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by a son, James, killed in action over Germany in World War II; a daughter, Lois (Mrs. E. Wayne) Gilley; three brothers, and three sisters.

He is survived by a son, John B. Denny, 2012 Maplewood Drive, Cedar Falls; a brother, Dr. James W. Denny, Indianapolis, Indiana; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery in Cedar Falls.  No decision has yet been made on a memorial.

Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913
Email: Gerald.Peterson@uni.edu