Eleanor Perry (she didn't use her first name Mary) grew up in San Gabriel, California. On February 10, 1923, she married Ben D. Wood (1894-1986), an educational psychologist who spent most of his career on the faculty of Columbia University. Among other activities, Ben Wood was a pioneer in multiple-choice testing and founded and directed the Bureau of Collegiate Educational Research at Columbia. He was largely responsible for introducing the Graduate Record Examination and the National Teacher Examinations. In 1927, he helped organize the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), which Eleanor managed until 1940.
In the late1930s, Eleanor studied photography at the Clarence White School of Photography near Columbia University and did a substantial amount of photography using medium format sheet film cameras. Class assignments included still lifes and learning to use artificial light. She began doing portraits of her husband and her good friend Grace Turner, who was her husband's secretary, as well as a number of Columbia faculty members and ERB colleagues. After her husband became semi-retired in the mid-1940s after suffering a stroke, they vacationed regularly in Colorado and the surrounding area. Much of her later photographs were made in the West. Eleanor also loved flowers and did numerous flower studies at the Woods' lovely home overlooking the Hudson at Croton-on-Hudson, New York, where she had a darkroom.
After Eleanor's death on November 25, 1974, Ben married Grace Turner on March 11, 1976. In 1986, shortly before he died, Ben Wood donated his papers, including some photographs by and biographical material concerning Eleanor, to Educational Testing Service in Princeton, At the time, I was the ETS Archivist and was responsible for organizing his papers and publishing a guide. Meanwhile, at Croton-on-Hudson, Grace continued to preserve Eleanor's photographic archives. After Grace's death in 2001, her sister, Lois Brex of Barrington, Rhode Island, donated Eleanor's negatives and proofs to me. In 2002, I donated this collection to the ETS Archives.
Gary D. Saretzky
December 18, 2002
Samples of Eleanor's Photographs:
Portrait of Ben Wood
Ben Wood with newspaper in the Woods' Morningside Heights apartment, 1939
Eleanor Perry Wood with newspaper, April 4, 1939
Eleanor, ca. 1940
Grace Turner, ca. 1940
Western view 1
Western view 2
Buster and Butch