–Contributed by Charity Smith

With Dr. Zimbardo’s upcoming visit to CCHP right around the corner (Oct. 5th, see website for details), you’d think I’d go the easy route and write about the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). Check! Another item off my to-do list. Ok, admittedly, that’s pretty much what I intended to do…but then I got to thinking: how could my little blog post possibly compete with hearing about the SPE, straight from Zimbardo himself? Let’s face it, it couldn’t.

In searching for a new angle, I discovered that Zimbardo is the 2015 recipient of the Kurt Lewin Award—the namesake of which, is the very man whose groundbreaking research on group dynamics laid the foundation for both the SPE and Milgram’s (1963) famed (READ: infamous) obedience study. Here enter, Kurt Lewin—father of modern social psychology, pioneer researcher of human interactions, and psychologist extraordinaire. Thwarted again, my words cannot compete with those of Zimbardo, who so accurately and succinctly heralded Lewin as “probably the most influential figure in all of social psychology,” (1985).

Lewin, a Jewish immigrant who left Germany in 1933, posited that our behaviors are not simply inherent to our nature; they are the result of an interaction between ourselves (and all the contextual baggage that entails) and environment. This concept is woven throughout Resolving Social Conflicts: Selected Papers on Group Dynamics, a text published posthumously by Lewin’s wife in 1948. Divided into three sections and spanning Lewin’s work from 1935 to 1946, the text explores group dynamics, belongingness, and cultural oppression.

Part I, “Problems of Changing Culture,” explores what is needed for a culture to make effective and lasting change, particularly in relation to Germany and WWII. Perhaps the best synopsis of Lewin’s theories on conflict resolution (not to mention some timeless advice for all of us) comes from an amalgam of two articles, both found in this first section:

Lewin Quote_Page 52

Lewin Quote_Page 58

Part II, “Conflicts in Face-to-Face Groups,” Lewin discusses the impact of leadership styles on tension, conflict resolution, and behaviors resulting from group membership. Although he cites research on children, the below table and discussion of autocratic and democratic governance provides more than just the study’s findings. These results, which mirror the stark contrast between German and American rule, serve as a reminder of the space Lewin’s research holds in time: WWII.

Lewin Quote_Page 79Lewin Quote_Page 72


Part III, “Inter-Group Conflicts and Group Belongingness,” largely centers on the impact of prejudice and segregation on Jewish people during WWI and WWII. Spanning 1935-1946, and heavy with Lewin’s own views and minority status, these articles make salient the weight of oppression and contain concepts that are, sadly, timeless. Below he proffers both the problem and the solution:

Lewin Quote_Page 214




Lewin Quote_Page 215

Although I didn’t go the route of the SPE, the opportunity to read Lewin’s book brought to light the atrocities of the most horrific prison experiment of all: The Holocaust. With articles that explore this time period on a personal, psychological, and sociological level, Lewin not only defines how social evils arise, but provides us with a road map back to the humane.


Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts: Selected papers on group dynamics. New York:   Harper & Bros.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology,    67, 371-378.

Zimbardo, P. G. (1985, June). Laugh where we must, be candid where we can. [A conversation   with Allen Funt.] Psychology Today, 19, 42-47.


Six Degrees of The CCHP

-contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

I’m not a psychologist, I don’t play one on TV, and I certainly don’t make for the best conversationalist on the topic. And yet here I am, attempting to prove how the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology can be connected to an author of a rather obscure piece of literature in the most abstract way.

I go boldly forth only because I do know a little about American literature (English major turned librarian here), and I think I can successfully prove a relationship between a small, unassuming booklet written by an early 20th century novelist and the CCHP, with Banned Book Week and David Shakow thrown in for good measure.

So, first question: What’s the connection? Since most of us like visuals, here’s a chart of this particular Six Degrees theory, which I will explain in the following text.six degrees.jpg

What can you say about America, its neurotic state, its collective sex impulse, and its national character without making a stop for collaborative materials at the CCHP? What can you say about America, its neurotic state, its collective sex impulse, and its national character without consulting more than one source? If your answer is “Not much” (and it should be if you’re playing along), then you’ve come to the right blog.

The author of controversial novels Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy (both of which are college English-class staples) dabbles in some non-fiction with his Neurotic America and the Sex Impulse And Some Aspects of Our National Character, part of a larger work titled Hey Rub-A-Dub Dub: A Book of the Mystery and Terror and Wonder of Life.  Theodore Dreiser had a reputation for penning tales about displaced people getting themselves into bad situations, and the general downfall of early 20th century society.

Dreiser attempts to answer all of the above questions in one short, tiny adapted booklet. Its physical stature is slight – only 5” tall by 3 ½” wide – and 62 pages long, but Dreiser’s commentary is robust as he postulates on the intricacies of sex and the shortcomings of American constitution.

Next question: So what’s this little book doing in the psychology archives?


You won’t have to look too closely to see David Shakow’s name printed on the top right of the title page and make the obvious connection:

David Shakow was a clinical psychologist.

The CCHP houses the personal and professional manuscript papers of over 350 psychologists.

The CCHP holds the David Shakow papers.

The book was in the David Shakow papers.

See where I’m going here? Six Degrees theory proven.

Now, we can only surmise why David Shakow owned a copy of this Little Blue Book No. 661. Did he take the sentiments between the pages seriously? It’s doubtful, since Rub-A-Dub-Dub, from whence it was adapted, was severely panned by critics and fellow authors alike for failure to sustain its arguments on a variety of philosophical ideas.


Though panned, it still seems quite possible that Shakow could have taken an interest in Dreiser’s citing of those quite familiar with schizophrenia in this adapted version. Dreiser references Freud, as did many authors, but he also notes another psychoanalyst of the day, H. W. Frink, in exploring the idea that the “sexual factor [is] dominant in every neurosis.”


If we explore more of David Shakow’s library of 1,039 books that he donated to the CCHP, we would find many titles that discuss neuroses in some aspect: Abnormal psychology: a clinical approach to psychological deviants; The abnormal personality; The psychology of functional neuroses; The analysis of fantasy; Annual review of the schizophrenic syndrome, Psychopathology of the psychoses, and so on. [Click here to view all of David Shakow’s books at the Cummings Center].

So I’ve made the connection between CCHP and Theodore Dreiser but let’s not forget there’s an entire second part of his little book – Some Aspects of Our National Character – and this is where I think the true controversial nature of this book lies. It’s easy to say neuroses and sex were taboo topics in 1920, and that might be true, but the sexual revolution of the Roaring ‘20s was on its way with Flapper girls at the helm, and it would seem more likely that controversy could very well be in the thoughts and ideas behind any outlook on America that didn’t seem patriotic.   I could easily create a second Six Degrees chart for Banned Book Week and Little Blue Book No. 661; I could even fairly easily create a new twist on the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon parlor game (with CCHP as the subject), but I won’t do that. I will simply leave you with these pages from Dreiser’s book that may have been a difficult and controversial pill to swallow in 1920.


dreiserbook5[Please add comments to suggest your own version of “Six Degrees of the CCHP” or to contribute a title for Banned Books Week]

– Contributed by Jodi Kearns

This summer, we ran a list of all the pre-1800 books in the Cummings Center rare book collection. You can read the full list here: CCHP_pre1800_books. One title on this list is Osservazioni Intorno Alle Vipere written by Francesco Redi in 1664. For a reason I cannot entirely explain, this book stood out to me from the others on this impressive list. This book can be found in several libraries around the world, and it usually holds the subject heading “Snakes.” [vipere (Italian) = viper, poisonous snake.] An approximate English translation of the title is Observations About Snakes. I took to Google to learn more.

Osservaxioni Intorno Alle Vipere by Francesco Redi 1664

Osservazioni Intorno Alle Vipere

The Encyclopædia Britannica biography on Francesco Redi (1626-1697) describes Redi as an Italian physician and poet. It seems he spent time researching and writing to debunk commonly held beliefs about the natural world, including a study in 1668 showing that maggots on putrefying meat are from eggs laid by flies, and do not spontaneously generate. This he concluded after a series of experiments that are recognized as one of the earliest experiments to use proper controls like those used in modern scientific methods.

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia recounts an earlier Redi experiment published in 1664 that contested a popular belief by demonstrating that snake bites and venom are separate and that venom was only effective if it entered the bloodstream with a bite. This work was published in Osservazioni Intorno Alle Vipere in 1664.

Francesco Redi, 1664

That a book survives 350 years and ends up in a collection specializing in the history of psychology and related human sciences fascinates me. The Cummings Center copy has an even greater distinction among surviving copies: it is inscribed by this 17th Century scientist and author. The inscription is to “Paolo Abrams” from the Author [d’Autore (Italian)]. The trail runs cold during my search for information about a Redi contemporary named Paolo Abrams.

Osservaxioni Intorno Alle Vipere by Francesco Redi 1664

inscribed to Paolo Abrams by Francesco Redi 1664

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia claims root of the field of experimental toxicology in Redi’s work. A 1997 article in the French journal Histoire des sceince médicales claims the field of experimental parasitology also began with Redi’s work.

[This volume came to the Cummings Center with the David Shakow papers.]

-Contributed by Danielle Bernert.

While I now progress towards uploading some of the physical material to an online catalog, I’m not afraid to admit that I still have doubts as to some of the decisions I have made.  Is there something potentially useful that I may have missed? Or, in the opposite case, is this collection composed of materials that will fail to find an interested user community?  I guess you could say that I had a few lingering qualms as to the value of the objects I have chosen.  The term value can be a slippery slope, especially in the world of archives.  This is due to its very multifaceted interpretations.  While most would usually describe something as “valuable” in terms of money, we all have things in our lives that are worth nothing in resale value yet hold an incredible amount of meaning because of the memories they possess.  How we attribute value is completely dependent on our own personal interpretations, which can make it a very complicated concept.

Are these items of value to the CCHP archives?


Promotional Poster

Promotional Poster

AHAP Label

AHAP Label

AHAP Tour Sign

AHAP Tour Sign

This complexity is echoed in the professional archival field. The Society of American Archivists (SAA) lists no less than 23 different types of values, from the generalized (primary value) to something with a much narrower definition (fair market value).  Mathematical and computer values are listed as well, but there are really only two types of values that I have found to be the most important when deciding what materials to add to the CCHP collection: historical value and enduring value.  The two overlap considerably, as something continues to have enduring value due to the “continuing usefulness based on the administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential, or historical information they contain”.  These two values can be applied to much of the new CCHP collection.  There a countless letters, fliers, drawings, and speeches that, while having little to no monetary value, are kept because of the information that they reveal about the past.

What type of value would you assign to these materials?

Film Archives Pamphlet

Film Archives Pamphlet


APA 75th Anniversary, Hosted by AHAP

APA 75th Anniversary, Hosted by AHAP

Mock-up of AHAP Exhibit Space for APA 75th Anniversary

Mock-up of AHAP Exhibit Space for APA 75th Anniversary

For example, one of the coolest objects that I found was a box of “While You Were Out” slips for Dr. Popplestone.  These slips were interesting in that they covered a long period of time and gave me a glimpse of the ordinary, day-to-day occurrences of working at the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP).  It is this great historical value that ensures their continuing preservation.

I think that this is an important topic to broach as monetary and historical value are often so tied up together that they are considered synonymous.  In museums, objects that are extremely old or connected to a significant historical event are often worth a lot of money. These objects are also usually the most interesting and shown to a greater audience, thus perpetuating the idea of direct correlation. However, after watching countless episodes of “Antiques Roadshow” I can confirm that just because something is old doesn’t make it monetarily valuable. And, in the case of CCHP, just because an object is composed of mostly paper doesn’t make it worthless. Isn’t that what the American dollar is mostly made of anyway?





CCHP Present

CCHP Present


CCHP Future

CCHP Future

*See the Society of American Archivists for other types of archival values.
** Note: It was grappling with these and other existential questions that made this internship such a great experience, and I could not think of a better place to spend 12+ hours a week for the past three months.  I have learned so much about the complexities of a collection, and how surprisingly possessive you can grow to be after working with 10 boxes of old papers for weeks on end.  Up until the end, the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology continued to surprise me with the amount of knowledge, hard work, and passion that goes into advancing the study of psychology, and I count myself incredibly lucky for being able to play a role in it.


– contributed by Lizette Royer Barton

The Cummings Center’s second installment of the 5 Minute History Lesson focuses on the life and career of Dr. Ruth Winifred Howard (1900-1997).

Dr. Robert V. Guthrie‘s (1976) Even the Rat Was White: A Historical View of Psychology introduced many of us to Dr. Ruth Howard via a brief two-page biography. Lucky for all of us, during his early research, Dr. Guthrie was able to track down Dr. Howard and interview her for his book.

He called information and asked for a Chicago listing for A. S. Beckham (her husband was psychologist Albert S. Beckham). He dialed the number and Dr. Ruth Howard picked up the phone. They spoke for nearly an hour and Dr. Guthrie recorded the entire interview.

“Lo and behold I received a number; I couldn’t believe it.” 

The phone interview is one of just a handful of known original artifacts for Dr. Ruth W. Howard. She speaks candidly with Dr. Guthrie about her upbringing in Washington DC and her quest toward a doctorate in psychology that took her to numerous universities until she finally earned her Ph.D. in psychology in 1934 from the University of Minnesota. They discussed her work in private practice alongside her husband Dr. Albert S. Beckham as well as her independent work within the Chicago mental health community following his death in 1964.

Throughout the early part of the interview Dr. Guthrie repeatedly referred to her as Dr. or Mrs. Beckham. Finally after roughly 20 minutes she had enough.

“I would appreciate it if you could call me Dr. Ruth Howard….”

Gladly, Dr. Howard. Gladly.

See the 5 Minute History Lesson series on youtube.

contributed by Nicole Merzweiler.

The start of summer has filled me with a mix of excitement for the break, and dread of my senior year, which begins in the fall. I was comforted though, when I found these two books, and I was reminded that even famous psychologists had to begin at “the bottom” as a student. I found my choices while I was finishing up on the digitization of the Professor Robert H. Wozniak Collection of Books on the History of Psychology. After the recent CCHP Board of Directors meeting, Professor Wozniak suggested that I add some of the interesting signatures and bookplates in the collection. During this process, I came across a bookplate that caught my eye from Kurt Koffka.


The bookplate was inside two unpublished carbon copy notes on lectures given by Carl Stumpf at the University of Berlin; the first Psychologie Winter Semester 1906/1907 and the second Logik & Erkenntnis Sommer Semester 1907.

Title page 1

Title page 2

The notes belonged to Kurt Koffka and were taken from a class in psychology and the second in logic and epistemology. Both sets of bound notes include not only his bookplate, but hand corrections made by Koffka. Among other things, he added page numbers to the table of contents.

Table of contents

Koffka went on to become one of the cofounders of Gestalt psychology along with Wolfgang Köhler and Max Wertheimer, who all studied at the University of Berlin. Koffka finished his PhD in 1909, completing his thesis under Stumpf’s guidance. Gestalt psychology,a school of thought focused on perception, emphasizes the idea that people see the whole of something independently of its individual parts. These ideas have changed the way perception is viewed, and it is very exciting to get to see the beginning of that through Koffka’s class notes.

contributed by Danielle Bernert.

As some of you may know, the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While this is quite an accomplishment, I am troubled by the fact that my own one month anniversary here at the CCHP has somehow been overlooked. Don’t worry, if you act quickly and get your cards to me by next week, I promise to still act surprised.

Speaking of surprises, I cannot believe that it has already been over a month since I began work on the CCHP archives collection. Fifty years can accumulate a great amount of material, and I have spent most of my time here trying to figure out what items really capture the mission and essence of CCHP. I have sorted through floorplans, numerous newspaper articles, employee training manuals, and (my favorite) a personalized letter to AHAP founder Dr. Popplestone from a “world-famous” hypnotist, listing a complete breakdown of his show and subsequent charges. I don’t know if Dr. Popplestone ever replied.

Early plans for the AHAP space in the Polsky Building.

Early plans for the AHAP space in the Polsky Building.


Early plans for the AHAP space in the Polsky Building.

Early plans for the AHAP space in the Polsky Building.

I have since moved on from the gleaning process to organizing selected materials. This involves complex and standardized actions such as sorting the objects into categories, wrestling with putting together the archival boxes, and organizing materials into these boxes. Folding archival boxes aside, the most challenging part of this process has been deciding upon the best theme of organization. What is the best way to divide up these materials? I decided to focus more on the topic rather than type of object, with category topics such as “Finances” and “Publicity”. I felt as though centering certain materials on the topic would better serve researchers, as it would be much easier to find a certain event in the “Events” section, rather than a box marked “Pamphlets”. Dividing by topic may also help the CCHP employees, as the organization’s digital files are divided similarly on the server. These broad-themed divisions are called “series” in the archival world, with subsequent smaller groups that can be measured in boxes, folders, items, etc.

Example of smaller group items within a collection; in this case AHAP phone messages from 1990-1999.

Example of smaller group items within a collection; in this case AHAP phone messages from 1990-1999.

I was advised to keep the series fairly general, as this collection will continue to grow with the organization. This type of mindset is based off of the principles of extensible processing, a term discussed heavily in the book Extensible Processing for Archives and Special Collection: Reducing Processing Backlogs by Daniel A. Santamaria (2015). Extensible processing revolves around an attitude of “iterative rather than linear and one size fits all” processing, meaning that there is no set routine of steps. Rather, the archivist adjusts as the collection develops and grows. This collection is unique as it (unlike many collections) is not one square, completed amount of material. Rather, it will be added to and re-organized multiple times.

Well-known visitors to AHAP from earlier years.

Well-known visitors to AHAP from earlier years.


Well-known visitors to AHAP from earlier years.

This idea of a fluid collection is somewhat new to me, as I am used to something much more static with definite boundaries. This new assemblage contains no such limits and is not so easily defined. It contains items that date from 1965 to less than a month ago. While the beginning date is clear, the end is left open, leaving room for further specification and growth. My responsibility in this extensible process to make sure there is a stable structure of organization for others to build upon yet still allowing room for flexibility and adjustment. As this project progresses and I continue to work on the creation of a finding aid and online companion, I will have to keep this idea of an extensible collection first and foremost in my mind.


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