Abraham Harold (A.H.) Maslow was born on April 1, 1908 as the oldest of seven children. His parents were Jewish immigrants to Brooklyn, New York from czarist Russia.
Maslow began his education in the public schools of Brooklyn and went on to attend the City College of New York, where he studied law. After three semesters worth of work at CCNY, he transferred to Cornell University. However, he only spent a brief amount of time at Cornell, before transferring back to CCNY and marrying his first cousin, Bertha Goodman.
Tired of dealing with his parents’ disapproval of his early marriage and increasingly uninterested in law, Maslow decided to move west to Wisconsin. There, he attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, from which he attained his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology. While in Madison, Maslow studied the behavior of rhesus monkeys with Harry Harlow. Together they published many findings on how the monkeys reacted to issues of self-esteem, dominance, sexuality, and motivation.
In 1935, a year after receiving his Ph.D., Maslow moved his family, now with two daughters, back to New York to work with E.L. Thorndike at Columbia University. He then took a position as a professor at Brooklyn College. He taught there for nearly five years before taking a job at Brandeis University, where he was later appointed as chairman of psychology department in 1951.
It was at Brandeis that Maslow began his theoretical work and began his studies on self-actualization. After being introduced to Kurt Goldstein, Maslow became convinced by his ideas that all humans will strive to strengthen their strongest abilities in order to be the best that they can be. Maslow soon began revising his 1943 paper on the hierarchy of needs, A Theory of Human Motivation to include Goldstein’s ideas on self-actualization.
He retired from Brandeis and moved west once again, this time to California. He died there on June 8th, 1970 of a heart attack, after years of ill health and heavy drinking.