William Thetford: A Focused Timeline

William Thetford was an instrumental part of the writing process of the Course in Miracles – we take a closer look at some of the key events of his life here.


25th April, 1923  – Born to John and Mabel Thetford, William was the youngest of three children. The family are committed members of the Christian Science church.

1930 – Thetford’s older sister passes away at a young age causing the family to sever ties with their church. Despite his parents reticence towards religion, William continued to sample various denominations of Protestant Christianity up until he reaches adolescence.

1932 – At the age of nine years old, Thetford falls ill with scarlet fever. His sickness goes untreated and leads to him developing rheumatic fever as well as a heart condition that result in him spending three years recovering at home.

1932-1935 – In the three years that Thetford spends recuperating at home, he devotes all of his time to reading. When he’s finally well enough to return to education he’s studied enough to begin at the appropriate age.

1944 – After successfully graduating from high school, Thetford claims a four-year scholarship to DePauw University studying both psychology ans pre-medicine.

1949 – Thetford successfully passes his graduate studies and claims his PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago.

1949-1951 – William begins his professional career as a research psychologist for the Institute for Psychosomatic & Psychiatric Research & Training at the Reese Hospital in Chicago.

1951-1957 – In the years preceding the start of his work at the University of Columbia, William found himself working for a variety of government and academic institutions; these included postings at Lebanon, Connecticut and Cornell University.

1958 – After spending the previous years working for different institutions, Thetford finally found a position to settle in at the University of Columbia. He accepted a role at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he would go on to hire Helen Schucman as his assistant.

June, 1965 – Following years of suffering through a strained working relationship with Schucman, Thetford finally breaks down and exclaims ‘There must be another way!’ The months that followed lead to a number of spiritual breakthrough for Schuchman, culminating in the writing of the text known as A Course in Miracles.