Tetford, William N. (1923–1988)
William N. Tetford, a psychologist and transcriber of the
channeled work A Course in Miracles, was born in Chicago, Illinois,
into a Christian Science family. In 1931, following his
older sister’s death, the family disassociated themselves from
Christian Science and Tetford was raised from that time in a
largely secular environment. Several years later he became ill
with scarlet fever, and though he survived, he was bedridden
for two years with the complications. Tutored during his recovery,
once back in school he soon caught up with his classmates
and graduated from high school with honors.
He attended DePauw University in Indiana, where he majored
in psychology. He graduated in 1944, at the height of
World War II (1939–45). Deferred from military action because
of his medical record, he took a position at the University of
Chicago supervising the buildings at which the atom bomb research
was being conducted. The week after the detonation of
the first bomb in Japan, understanding the full nature of the
project, he resigned.
He returned to psychology by taking a course with Carl Rogers,
then on his way to psychological fame with what was termed
client-centered therapy, a new form of psychotherapy that allowed
the analysis to arise from the patient’s growing selfunderstanding
rather than from the more common analysis offered
by Freudian systems. He went on to complete his Ph.D.
at the University of Chicago in 1949. He held several positions
through the 1950s before becoming the director of the Psychology
Department at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in
New York City in 1958. Within a few weeks, another person
with whom he was to be intimately related also joined the staff,
Helen Schucman, who had just graduated from New York University.
Tetford and Schucman were very different personalities,
and their relationship was sporadically filled with anger and
hostility. However, in 1965, Tetford suggested that they work
on their relationship and attempt to change it. He had been
reading metaphysical literature from which he offered the discipline
of meditation as a tool to assist them. They began meditating
and Schucman began to receive a series of vivid images.
Tetford encouraged her to keep a record of whatever she received.
However, on October 21, 1965, she heard a voice say
to her, ‘‘This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.’’ Tetford
encouraged her to continue to record what she heard. Schucman
recorded what she heard in shorthand. She read it to Tetford,
who turned it into typescript.
The result of their collaboration over the next seven years
was A Course in Miracles (ACIM). During this period, Schucman
frequently expressed trepidation over her channeling work,
but Tetford continually calmed her fears and doubts. It was
published in 1975. Tetford, a quiet, somewhat passive man, was
uncomfortable being in the public eye and allowed others to
operate out front on the dissemination of the books and their
teachings. In 1978 he moved to Tiburon, California, where the
Foundation for Inner Peace, the corporation assigned the task
of publishing the Course, had relocated. There he lived a quiet
existence using much of his time trying to make the teachings
on self-forgiveness real in his life. In 1986, he moved to LaJolla,
California, and resided there for the last two years of his life.
In the years since his death, his essential role in bringing forth
A Course in Miracles has been widely recognized.
A Course in Miracles. 3 vols. New York Foundation for Inner
Peace, 1975.
Miller, D. Patrick. The Complete Story of the Course The History,
The People and the Controversies Behind A Course in Miracles.
Berkeley, Calif. Fearless Books, 1997.
Skutch, Judith. ‘‘A Course in Miracles, the Untold Story.’’
Parts 1 & 2. New Realities 4, no. 1, 2 (August, September
October 1984) 17–27; 8–15, 78.
Wapnick, Kenneth. Absence of Felicity The Story of Helen
Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles. Roscoe, N.Y.
Foundation for ‘‘A Course in Miracles,’’ 1991.