The Ackerly Oral History Project is part of the Gardner Collection, which contains historical material pertaining to child guidance, child psychiatry, and child development. The collection was supported by endowments and gifts from the widow of William E. Gardner, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville from 1913 until his death in 1947. Dr. S. Spafford Ackerly began the collection, which was initially formulated as a library of books, dating back to 1563, concerned primarily with psychiatry.
The oral history series began when Ackerly and Dr. Gary May started collecting interviews with early leaders in the child guidance field, who relate personal and family histories, the influences that led them to the field of child psychiatry, their medical training, and their careers. Other topics are child psychiatry, including its early days and the attitude of psychiatrists toward children at the turn of the century; juvenile delinquency; child psychiatry clinics; the child guidance movement; the Headstart program; and psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Adler of Vienna, Austria.