National Research Council

Yerkes had been elected to membership in the National Research Council in 1917. After the war, he had to choose between working with the council in Washington, DC, or belatedly assuming his post at the University of Minnesota. Yerkes chose the National Research Council, in part because he wanted to oversee publication of a lengthy report about the wartime testing program. Beyond that, however, he hoped that taking this job would help him to find financial support for a long-time dream: to establish a laboratory for studying nonhuman primates. No such lab existed in the United States at the time, yet Yerkes was determined to see his dream become a reality.

First, though, he would have to attend to several other projects for the council. Yerkes founded and chaired the Committee on Scientific Problems of Human Migration. At the same time, he chaired the Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. In 1921, Yerkes also served as editor for a massive report titled "Psychological Examining in the United States Army," which detailed findings from the Army Alpha and Beta tests.

Yerkes never lost sight of his goal of doing primate research, however. In 1923, he began raising two apes in his home. Chim was later recognized as a bonobo, which resembles a chimpanzee but is more slender, while Panzee was a common chimpanzee. Yerkes described his research on the pair in a book titled Chimpanzee Intelligence and Its Vocal Expressions. The following year, Yerkes spent the summer in Havana, Cuba, where he was able to observe a large primate colony. This work led to yet another book, titled Almost Human.

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