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The Papers of Saleem A. Shah, 1952-1992

Identifier: MSS-93-2

Scope and Contents

The Saleem Shah collection documents his work in forensic psychology and law, a specialized field he helped establish. The files, dating from the early 1960s to the time of his death, concern his many research and writing projects, work he did for various organizations including NIMH, international projects and travel, and correspondence with colleagues. The folder headings used here were copied from Shah's folders; occasionally, explanatory information has been added in brackets.

A portion of the papers was transferred from his home office and the other portion from his office at the National Institute of Mental Health in Rockville, Maryland. The collection is housed in two locations: the extensive body of printed material is located in the reference collection of the Center for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy (formerly at the Blue Ridge hospital); the correspondence and other working files are located in Special Collections of the Law Library and are described in this inventory.

The Shah papers richly complement other collections in mental health and law donated by Richard Bonnie, Harvey Fireside, Browning Hoffman, James M. Martinez and Dr. Loren Roth.


  • Creation: 1952-1993


Biographical / Historical

Saleem A. Shah was born in Allahabad, India on December 2, 1931. He earned his B.A. from the Allahabad University in 1952 and part of his master's degree from Lucknow University. In 1953 he came to the United States to do graduate work at Princeton University, but went on to Pennsylvania State University where he completed his master's (1955) and doctorate (1957) degrees in clinical psychology.

From 1956 to 1959 he served as consulting psychologist at the Allegheny County Mental Health Clinic in Cumberland, Maryland, and then worked at the Legal Psychiatric Services Division of the District of Columbia Health Department until 1966. In that year, he joined the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as a staff member at the Center for Studies of Crime and Delinquency. Two years later he was appointed chief of the center (later renamed the Center for Studies for Antisocial and Violent Behavior). In 1987, Shah resigned as center chief in order to take up a new post as Senior Scientist in NIMH and devote more attention to research and consultation on issues of law and mental health. He received the Amicus Award of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the Isaac Ray Award of the American Psychiatric Association, as well as many other recognitions from NIMH, the American Association of Correctional Psychologists, and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Shah was affiliated with numerous professional organizations that combined concerns for mental health and law. His principal affiliations included the American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Academy of Political and Social Science; American Association of Correctional Psychologists; American Psychological Association; American Psychology-Law Society; American Society of Criminology; District of Columbia Psychological Association; Maryland Psychological Association; and National Council on Crime and Delinquency. In addition, he was a member, associate, or consultant for numerous advisory groups and review boards, including several sponsored by the American Bar Association and the A.P.A. In 1965-1966, he served on the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.

Shah, who was quite well known and respected internationally in his field, published many articles and accepted numerous invitations to give lectures. He worked closely on international psychiatry projects involving the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, as well as mental health projects in India. He was advisor for the World Health Organization and served on the executive committee of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health.

Saleem Shah died November 25, 1992, several days after a car accident caused by a drunken driver.


25 Cubic Feet (59 archival boxes)

Language of Materials



These papers (1952-1993) document Shah's work in forensic psychology and the law, criminal justice and mental health, mental health law, insanity defense, human rights, sexual harassment, abuse of psychiatry. There is extensive correspondence and working files. collection contains correspondence and working files with the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, the Department of Public Health, National Institute of Mental Health, World Health Organization and many other institutions

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Saleem A. Shah's family donated his papers to the Law Library and all printed materials to the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Mental Health in the summer of 1993.

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Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States