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-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 Past

CCHP Past

 

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.

Bookplate

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.

DSC_7917

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.

Contributed by Devan Murphy.

The Josef Brožek papers (21.12 linear feet; 67 boxes) are now open to researchers at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. Josef Brožek was born in Czechoslovakia in 1913, but traveled a lot over the course of his lifetime—growing up in Poland and Siberia, earning his Ph.D. in Prague, and immigrating to the United States in 1939, where he became a professor in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene at the University of Minnesota and later chaired the Department of Psychology at Lehigh University. His involvement with education did not stop there: he organized two six-week summer institutes on the History of Psychology for College Teachers in 1968 and 1971.

 

Brožek at age eighteen (June 1932). Box M4337, Folder13

Brožek at age eighteen (June 1932). Box M4337, Folder13

His devotion to the history of psychology spurred him to translate the foreign works of many different psychologists into English—languages translated include Czech, Dutch, French, Spanish, German, and Russian, among others.

Josef Brožek was a skilled guitar player (1955).  Box M4337, Folder13

Josef Brožek was a skilled guitar player (1955). Box M4337, Folder13

Brožek is also well known for his research on starvation. He focused on the psychological effects of malnutrition, working in conjunction with the Minnesota Semistarvation-Nutritional Rehabilitation Study in 1944 and 1946. Brožek published more than 160 books and articles throughout his career. He died in 2004.

Brožek and his wife, Eunice (undated).  Box M4337, Folder12

Brožek and his wife, Eunice (undated). Box M4337, Folder12

The Josef Brožek papers include biographical materials, correspondence, written works, research notes, academic files, and professional organizations files. Topics of particular note are starvation and nutrition research and the history of psychology research and publications. Brožek’s interest in international psychology is also reflected in the collection.

-Contributed by Danielle Bernert

It’s no secret that CCHP is renowned for its extensive collection of manuscripts, media, and other materials from famous psychological research. Since the first collection of Harry and Leta Hollingworth papers was donated in September of 1966, the Center has always served as a repository for psychologists to bequeath their work so that others may learn from it. However, this year I was given the chance be a part of something completely different: starting a new collection. More specifically, I am helping to establish a collection about the CCHP itself. Since its inception on October 11, 1965, the Cummings’ Center for the History of Psychology has undergone incredible changes, one of which was the name of the organization itself (it was originally called the Archives of the History of American Psychology). With all of this rich history behind it, CCHP is more than worthy of its own archival collection, and this KSU graduate intern is incredibly excited to be a part of the whole process.

Danielle's workspace.

Danielle’s workspace.

My work began only a few short weeks ago, and I have already felt like I have been here for much longer. This is one of the things I love about archives: you always underestimate the power that archival material can have on your sense of history. You couldn’t imagine how looking at the leftover materials of events can possibly make you feel as though you were there…until you’ve looked at 300 of them. I’ve skimmed so many of CCHP founder John Popplestone’s letters I feel like we are now on a first-name basis. And I have seen so many posters, publications, letters, receipts, and photographs that it’s like I’ve worked here for years. Will I be able to write a complete history of CCHP before my brief internship is over? Only time will tell.

 

Some CCHP materials already gathered for the archives.

Some CCHP materials already gathered for the archives.

Archival fascination aside, beginnings are always a process; full of guesses, adjustments, and moments of clarity. The most challenging question by far: does this item fit into the focus of the collection? Or better yet: what exactly is the focus of our collection? After a few short weeks, these and other questions are being answered. I now know that the focus is materials that capture the essence of CCHP and its history. Even so, these obstacles cannot always be predicted. Nor can they always be solved with an easy answer. Rather, they should be answered as process unfolds. And even then, the solution is never definite. I have since learned that it helps to have a firm idea of the materials to look for, but don’t be afraid to make exceptions. There will always be a few, and it’s what keeps archival work interesting. In the end, all you can hope is that you have made the best decision for the collection and that it will reflect the greatest aspects of CCHP. Over the course of the next two months of my internship, this will be my number one goal.

Danielle “working” with CCHP artifacts (don’t worry – these are extras!)

Danielle “working” with CCHP artifacts (don’t worry – these are extras!)

– Contributed by Jodi Kearns

5-min-hist

The Cummings Center introduces a new series of short films from the Archives of the History of American Psychology!

The series tells stories of people, objects, and topics found in our archives, and includes collection notes if you are interested in doing some related research. (All on- and off-site research requests can be directed to ahap@uakron.edu.)

The research team of the 5 Minute History Lesson consists of Cummings Center staff and graduate students. Film production is the work of current undergraduate student assistant Jon Endres of The University of Akron’s College of Communications.

The first episode, premiering here, is about the work and life of psychologist James V. McConnell.  Episode 2: Ruth Howard Beckham will debut this summer.

 

You can also view and share this film on the CCHP youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/CenterHistoryPsych.

 

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