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Contributed by Stacy Young, University of Akron student/CCHP Student Assistant.

CCHP: What led you to us?

SY: I previously attended the Museums and Archives class that is offered by the University of Akron and the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

SY: We were assigned to go through contentDM and browse through the artifacts. We were then to choose four artifacts that we liked the best. One of the objects that I chose was titled “Unidentified”, but it was part of the Walter Miles collection. I was hoping that within searching his collection I would come across documentation pertaining to the object.

CCHP: What did you find?

SY: Searching the collection I came across a diary that Walter Miles kept. Within this diary, there was a chapter that dated to the exact date that was located on the tag of my artifact.

Diary page from the Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1160, Folder 2.

Diary page from the Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1160, Folder 2.

 

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

SY: The diary gave interesting information that not only pertained to the day, but also to the artifact. In the chapter Miles stated that he was sending a piece of the object back to Rudolph due to it being dull. With further research I was able to find out that during the 1930s O.C. Rudolph was not only an inventor, but creating and manufacturing polarimeters here in the United States. By researching the polarimeters and comparing it to the artifact I have found that my artifact was constructed similar to O.C. Rudolph’s polarimeter and the manufactures mark is located on top of the artifacts case.

CCHP: What’s next?

SY: The next step I took was bringing all of my research to my peers, Dr. Kearns, and Fran who were as excited about the find as I was. My peers and I were able to include all of the research that was obtained into our exhibit. Since then Dr. Kearns and Emily have informed me that the contentDM will be changed from reading “Unidentified” to reading “Polarimeter”.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

SY: Although researching the object was an assignment for our project, it was extremely exiting to find and I encourage everyone that is able to include research from an archives to do so. Being able to do research at an archives not only gives you an opportunity to have primary sources of information, but it also gives you an opportunity to observe the object yourself.

-contributed by Veronica Bagley, undergraduate student in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program.

What do a polygraph kit, ouija board, and Stanford Prison experiment skateboard have in common? They’re all objects in the Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology artifact collection, and they’re all going to be on a temporary exhibit in Glimpses into the History of Psychology through Artifacts. These are just a few objects students in the Foundations of Museums and Archives class have been researching for their final project, putting together an exhibit.

Some of the objects that will be on exhibit.

Students in the Foundations of Museums and Archives Class have been spending this semester putting together an exhibit, from start to finish, to be displayed at the CCHP. In the first half of the class during Fall semester, each student selected a few items from the collection that they found interesting. Now during Spring semester, those objects are becoming one exhibit. Students picked objects covering multiple fields of psychology, including paranormal, perception, animal training, education, and popular psychology.

Though the objects in the exhibit are all very different, students have studied how they relate to psychology or how they may have been used by psychologists. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to learn about the history of psychology through a variety of fields. One of the objects I spent a large amount of time researching was a homemade “Spirit Writing Board,” for which we had little information on. I was able to use resources in the archives to research the practice of spirit writing, and through my research I learned about the field of “Parapsychology.” I even contacted an expert from The Parapsychological Association who sent me even more resources about this board and how it may have been used. Before I took this class, I did not even know this field of psychology existed! Visitors to the exhibit will be able to see the Spirit Writing Board on display, along with other objects from the field of Parapsychology. From visiting this exhibit, we hope visitors will be able to learn how broad the field of psychology is, and how it is applied in other fields.

Though the research process could be frustrating at times, especially with objects without much information attached to them, the class had some great finds! An object previously labeled as “Unidentified” became identified as a Polarimeter. Stacy Young, another student in the class, selected this object and had the task of researching it for the exhibit. From the tag on the object, she was able to start some research in the archives and found a journal that described the unidentified object. It was an incredible discovery and required some serious detective work! The Polarimeter will also be on display in the exhibit.

The label Stacy used to start her research on the Unidentified Object.

After spending the first eleven weeks of the semester researching objects and making decisions about exhibit design, the last several weeks will be spent installing the exhibit. The exhibit is also sponsored by the EX[L] Center: https://www.uakron.edu/exl/. We are very grateful for their donation to help us put together this exhibit!

The opening reception for Glimpses into the History of Psychology through Artifacts will be May 6, 2017 from 4-6 pm, and regular open hours will be Tuesdays May 9 through August 15, 2017, from 1-3pm. Admission is free. It will be located at:

Gallery C, First Floor Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

The University of Akron Roadway Building

73 S. College Street

Akron, OH 44325-4302

The final exhibit project for this class fulfills the requirements for students in 1900:302 Foundations in Museums and Archives II at the Institute for Human Science and Culture. The class is a requirement for a Museums and Archives Certificate through the University of Akron. If you are interested in the program, contact Dr. Jodi Kearns at jkearns@uakron.edu for information.

Objects for the exhibit, laid out for research.

– contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

April is National Poetry Month.  In recognition of all of those terrible poems you wrote in high school, and in honor of armchair poets everywhere, CCHP is posting a blog about creativity.

with painted clothes upon a bridge, she was not iodined with garnishes; those

passing there, seared and grotesque.  did she jump, or wail, or swing on other

clothes?  did she spread her teeth inventing whistles for the quaying bikes, or

stiff snouters turned in grey?  she did not, nor did she cow or pace about in

ruins, or tray her hiked up shoes more nearly like galosh or spidern heels she

cut among the grass.

[Excerpt from untitled poem written by ‘Larry’ (Laurence d’A. M. Glass), from the Silvan Tomkins papers, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology]

What makes “good” poetry, and how do you know when you see it?  Can poetry be judged on simple merits of being good or bad?

Whether the above poem elicits provocative imagery or just annoys the reader with a bunch of made-up words and awkward sentence structure (the spellcheck was practically shouting at me while typing), we can probably agree that something creative like poetry is indeed quite subjective.  And like other creative endeavors, writing poetry is an intensely personal act.  But so is reading it.  The exact elements of Glass’s poem that make us appreciate it or shrink from it, are creativity in action.  No rules.  No inhibitions.  As Dan Wieden so famously (and creatively) proclaimed for Nike, “Just do it.”

Plenty of CCHP collections possess poetry written by psychologists; still others contain poems from colleagues and family members, like this one from the L. Joseph Stone papers about adolescence, from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

If poetry is subjective and arcane, why would we attempt to judge it by a simple scale of good or bad?  Or by a right way or wrong way of writing it?  Maybe it’s an attempt to make the unscientific more scientific.  Perhaps the more pressing question is, should we judge it from those perspectives at all?

Two professors – one of education and one of English – developed “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry” in 1921, to assist students in acquiring an “increased ability to tell good [poetry] from bad, and increase preference for the good”.  To do this, original poems were sampled, accompanied by sets of varying versions of the original that represented sentimental, prosaic, and metrical forms of writing.  From there, it was simply a “which do you prefer?” choice.  Similarly, “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry”, a test developed by Rewey Belle Inglis, asks students to determine prevailing emotions of various poems from a given set of emotions.

Test preamble and sample poem for “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry (Exercises in Judging Poetry)” by Allan Abbott and M. R. Trabue, 1921; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

 

Test page from “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry” from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

But making constrained decisions about something that is personal and subjective from pre-selected lists and writing samples feels a little restrictive.

Instead of right and wrong answers, or answers that are compared to regulated determinates, tests like “The Symbolic Equivalents Test”, allow for more fluctuation in the answers.  Rather than judging one’s ability to recognize the good and the bad from staid lists, the test-taker is asked to think of his or her own ways to answer each sample.  Answers might feel less like straight answers, and more like cleverness and ingenuity.  Indeed, creative writing (in the form of poetry or prose) should feel this way.

“The Symbolic Equivalents Test” with some imaginative notes, from the Frank X. Barron papers; Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Elizabeth Starkweather conducted research on the subject of creativity, particularly in school children.  She describes creativity as something that cannot be coerced, and in order to take place, it must happen in an environment of free expression without inhibition.

Excerpt from a paper on creativity by Elizabeth Starkweather; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Special Interest Collection

Whether taking a test on one’s own abilities or judging others’ creative abilities, we might be wise to ruminate on the ideas posed by Starkweather, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and others who recognized that creativity has a lot to with the act and less to do with judging other creators’ works.  Think, too, about how the act of creating serves an important purpose in those self-actualization theories.  Your poems may get published, you may get recognized for being a great talent; but probably not.  Write them anyway.  In the mechanized grind of life, creativity helps us to feel human.

– contributed by Amy Freels.

Because genealogy and family history are popular topics, most people are aware of the need to digitize and label family photos. But did you realize that even if you do this, you could still be losing a part of your family story? In honor of National Organize Your Files Week, let’s talk about ways to organize your family photos to preserve family stories.

Family photos are a time capsule of your family’s life and illustrate what was important to them. Before you start the project, it is helpful to keep in mind four things:

  • What do you want your family to know or remember about you and your family?
  • What is important to you that it not be forgotten?
  • What doesn’t your family know that they should?
  • What about your family history would surprise them?

Start by organizing your photos. You’ll want to weed out the ones you know are extraneous, like duplicates and photos of nonfamily members. If working on all of your photos is overwhelming, pick a few favorites to focus on, keeping the above four points in mind. Group the photos by year or subject. If the photos are already in an album, don’t attempt to remove them—you could irreparably damage them.

Next, label your photos. If you are working with originals, instead of photos that have been digitized, write lightly on the back with a pencil. Don’t push too hard. Be sure to include everyone in the photo, with full names and dates of birth and death, if known. Give the name of the photographer, the date the image was taken (estimates are okay), and the location pictured.

Consider investing in a photo album that has space to record more detailed information. In the album, you’ll record the same information as above, so that you don’t inadvertently damage the photo by taking it in and out of the album. You’ll be able to include extra information in the album, like the relationship between the people pictured (cousins? siblings?), what is happening in the photo and why, as well as the original owner of the photo or where it was found.

amy

Sample album with space for recording notes

Remember, don’t assume what is going on in the photo will be as obvious to future generations. Wedding photos from a century ago, for example, don’t look anything like what our wedding photos do today. You can do photo research to further the story for photos where you don’t know any information. If the name of the photographer is on the photo, this can help narrow down city and timeframe. Learning how to identify the type of photo can tell you a date range.

Don’t forget to ask other family members for information. They may have further knowledge about the photos or may have photos to share that fill in gaps in your photo collection.

If you are working with digitized photos, consider storing a digital file with the photos that includes all of the above information for each file.

If you follow the above steps, you’ll not only have organized files, but will be well on your way to helping preserve your family stories.

 

Amy Freels recently completed her certificate in Museums and Archives from The Institute for Human Science and Culture (IHSC) at The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at The University of Akron.

Contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

Chances are if you had a question, Little Blue Books had an answer.  Actually, many answers.  On any topic.  For everyone, everywhere.  Little Blue Books were your local library.  They were the 1920s version of Wikipedia.  And they kept the post office in business.  At 5-10 cents a pop, Little Blue Books weren’t free but they were cheap, and they could be shipped to any address in the world for nothing.  Always 3 ½” x 5 ½”, these tiny tomes of paper and staples were easily transportable, whether you were delivering them or reading them.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius hoped to find a place, even if a small one, in the annals of literary history.  More specifically (and more colorfully), he said this:

At the close of the 20th Century some flea-bitten,

sun-bleached, fly-specked, rat-gnawed,

dandruff- sprinkled professor of literature

is going to write a five-volume history of the books

of our century. In it a chapter will be devoted to

publishers and editors of books, and in that chapter

perhaps a footnote will be given to me.

With apologies to professors of literature, Haldeman-Julius did indeed carve out a place of his own among the publishing world.  What was once an earnest (and successful) endeavor to provide affordable and accessible reading to the entire world population (for real!) has now become a collector’s delight.

Early advertisement for Little Blue Books

 

In the areas of psychology, psychiatry and self-help, Little Blue Books offered a surprisingly large selection of titles that ranged from topics like autosuggestion to testing to animal behavior.  Fairly cutting-edge stuff for the general public of the early 20th century.

Some of the Little Blue Books on psychoanalysis, a gift of Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

 

The small collection of 34 Little Blue Books donated to the Center by Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr., contains several titles on psychoanalysis in the ever-popular “know thyself” format.  Courtesy of the Haldeman-Julius publishing company, you can learn how to psychoanalyze yourself, and you can read along as a popular author psychoanalyzes himself and the entire United States.

Psychoanalyzing yourself

Psychoanalyzing yourself

 

But what’s even more fun than psychoanalyzing yourself (at least for this archivist) is making a connection from something as broad and far-reaching as the nearly two thousand Little Blue Books titles to something very specific located right here in the archives at the Cummings Center.

New Experiments in Animal Psychology (Little Blue Book No. 693) features work from all the well-worn and heavy-hitting names of those early pioneers of animal psychology – Thorndike, Yerkes, Watson, Witmer – and then suddenly hits the reader with an illustration on page 19 (something quite rare in Little Blue Books) – a depiction of Ivan Pavlov’s famed drooling dog experiment, demonstrating classical conditioning.

Illustration in Little Blue Book No. 693 of  Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflex Apparatus monitoring animal responses to stimuli

 

Now comes the good part.  The Center’s collection of objects and artifacts has a very small replica of the set-up that Pavlov used in his experiments to measure a dog’s salivary response to certain stimuli like food or later, the sound of a metronome or a buzzer.  Like a miniature laboratory, this cute and portable likeness of the real thing was used for teaching about those conditioned responses without the mess of a drooling dog in the classroom.

Simulated chamber with dog model used to simulate conditioning experiments

 

And that’s what is so fun about working, studying, and researching here at the Center.  There are those moments that happen when a connection is made and you light up and say, “Yes!  I’ve seen that before” or “This was on TV last night!”  Even if you don’t have a background in psychology (I’m raising my hand here), there are so many objects, so much media, and mountains of written and published works that relate to everyday life to be found at the Center – you will not only be able to psychoanalyze yourself, you’ll be able to recognize the science behind a drooling dog.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view these Little Blue Books.

The Psycho-Phone

– contributed by guest blogger Dr. Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has a large collection of some of the most important apparatus and objects related to psychological science and practice covering the past 150 years.  There are brass chronoscopes from the 1800s that measured reaction time in one-thousandths of a second.  There are a variety of rat mazes, tachistoscopes, and Skinner boxes.  The “shock” machine used by Stanley Milgram in his famous obedience studies is in the Center’s collections as are a Bobo doll from Albert Bandura’s research, guard uniforms from Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford prison study, a surrogate monkey head from Harry Harlow’s studies of love in monkeys, and one of B. F. Skinner’s air cribs.  The Center is always looking to add to its collections, including items that were of questionable scientific value.  One such item is the Psycho-Phone pictured below.

ben1

 

Similar in principle to audio devices today that play messages during a person’s sleep, for example, alleging sleep learning, the Psycho-Phone was the invention of Alois Benjamin Saliger (1880-1969) who patented his machine in 1932 as an “Automatic Time-Controlled Suggestion Machine.”  The device was essentially an Edison-style phonograph with a timer that played the contents from a wax cylinder during the period of sleep.  Saliger believed that the messages delivered during sleep would enter a person’s unconscious and have a powerful influence on the individual’s behavior.

 

The device was first advertised in the June 1927 issue of the popular psychology magazine, “Psychology: Health, Happiness, Success.”

ben2

The machine was quite expensive, selling for $235 in 1929.  That would be the equivalent of $3,250 in 2017.  It came with several wax cylinders, each with messages relating to a different theme; one was labeled “Prosperity”, another “Life Extension,” and a third “Mating.”  Eventually Saliger expanded the record library to more than a dozen titles, even one in Spanish.  According to a story in The New Yorker in 1933, the message on the Mating recording included the following statements: “I desire a mate.  I radiate love.  I have a fascinating and attractive personality.  My conversation is interesting.  My company is delightful.  I have a strong sex appeal.”  Saliger was convinced of the effectiveness of the Psycho-Phone noting that 50 of his customers reported finding a mate.  He did not say how many of the Mating recordings had been sold.

Saliger ran monthly advertisements in the popular psychology magazines of the late 1920s touting the remarkable benefits of his Psycho-Phone.  Here is another of his ads.

ben3

In looking for expert endorsers of his machine, Saliger might have chosen someone other than Dr. Quackenbos, whose name would not conjure up images of a charlatan.

ben4

By 1933, Saliger claimed that he had sold more than 2,500 of the Psycho-Phones.  If such a number is even close to being accurate, a number of these devices should still exist today.  But despite our best efforts, we have not been able to find one to add to our collections at the Center.  If you have one of these or know of the location of a Psycho-Phone we would appreciate your contacting the Center at ahap@uakron.edu.  If you would like to donate one to the Center as a charitable gift, it would be most appreciated.

Contributed by Emily Gainer.

Which psychologist would have letters from Paul Newman, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and E.B. White?  Frank Barron, whose work included creativity research, collected these letters (and more).  The Frank X. Barron papers are now available for research at the CCHP.

Frank X. Barron, 1969. Box M5404, Folder 16

Frank X. Barron, 1969. (Box M5404, Folder 16)

Francis Xavier Barron (1922-2002) was a psychologist with a specialization in creativity research. He developed standardized tests to measure the characteristics of a creative person. These tests included the Inventory of Personal Philosophy, the Ego-Strength Scale, and the Barron-Walsh Art Scale. Barron’s major publications include Creativity and Psychological Health: Origins of Personal Vitality and Creative Freedom, Creativity and Personal Freedom, and Creative Person and Creative Process.

The Frank X. Barron papers, which contain 94 boxes of archival materials, include biographical files, correspondence, administrative files, teaching files, tests, research files, and written works. The files document Barron’s wide variety of research interests, including creativity, twins, nuclear war, and artists.

Of special note are the files relating to Barron’s creative writers study (1957-1958). In this study, Barron interviewed and tested numerous notable writers, including Truman Capote and Normal Mailer. Some files are restricted.

Author E.B. White's response to Frank X. Barron's invitation to participate in a creative writers study (1957). Box M5422, Folder 11

Author E.B. White’s response to Frank X. Barron’s invitation to participate in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 11)

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote's participation in a creative writers study, 1957. Box M5422, Folder 7

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote’s participation in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 7)

The Written Works series includes published and unpublished works, including unpublished notes and drafts of “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” and “A Baby Named Death”. Both were autobiographical works; “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” was a memoir of Barron’s relationship with Timothy Leary.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view the manuscript materials.