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contributed by Lizette Royer Barton. For a screen reader compatible pdf of this post and documents contained within, click here.

I asked my colleagues who their favorite women were in our collections. Here are a few of the responses.

Processing Archivist Emily Gainer replied with Erika Fromm. Emily processed the Fromm papers a few years ago and you can review the finding aid for the 115-box collection here: Erika Fromm finding aid. Emily told me, “At one point, she [Erika Fromm] had a student harassing/stalking her.  Campus admin told her if he called, not to answer.  She said she would answer, because that’s what she does – help people.”

Erika Fromm (1909-2003) earned her PhD in experimental psychology in 1933 from the University of Frankfurt while studying with Max Wertheimer (Emily processed those papers too); worked as a research associate in clinical psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Wilhelmina Gasthuis (University Clinics), Amsterdam; established the first psychology laboratory in a Dutch state hospital; fled the damn Nazi’s; and eventually emigrated to Chicago, IL where she established a private psychotherapy practice and became a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Being a foremost expert on hypnosis and hypnoanalysis, Erika Fromm was approached by psychologists in Germany requesting permission to translate some of her work to German. The Erika Fromm papers contain several folders of correspondence with the journal editors and correspondence she received from readers (both positive and negative) regarding her decision not to allow the translation. Instead, she wrote a paper titled, Personal Feelings of a Nazi Refugee: Why I do not Want to be Honored by Germans, which was published in the German journal Hypnose Und Kognition instead of her translated work on hypnoanalysis. Fromm considered the translation of her work an honor, but was deeply conflicted about receiving such an honor from a German journal. Her paper is hard to read and harder still to fathom what she survived. And while we all hold our own feelings about forgiveness, perhaps sometimes, we have to simply respect when a person just can’t do it.

Erika Fromm papers, box M5199, folder 10

Dr. Cathy Faye, Director of the CCHP, couldn’t give me just one name.

“I’ve always liked Ruth Cruikshank Bussey. Mostly because I liked the photos of her in the collection. I think there were a couple good ones of her from her time in the WAVES and personal journals and scrapbooks. I just remember browsing those and liking her a lot. I’d love to know more about Jewish psychologist Sylvia Scribner….early on, she was quite a union activist, I think. Not sure if the collection reflects any of that.”

Ruth Cruikshank Bussey (1911-2007) earned her BA at Elmira College and went on to earn her MA and PhD from Brown University. During the Second World War she served in the Air Service Command (ASC) and later enlisted with the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), a division of the Navy. She continued her work in psychological testing at the Psychological Corporation. And Cathy was right, the scrapbooks and journals in this collection are incredible. Bussey has letters, report cards, clippings, announcements, and more glued and taped to the pages alongside her handwritten words in scrapbooks and journals from her time in high school well into old age. There are hundreds of treasures but this assignment from her Elmira College course, “Life Work Choice” is among my favorites. The assignment was for students to list their first three choices for work to which Ruth Cruikshank answered, “My work must be with science…I know of its hardships for I have a family none too eager to see me as a woman doctor, stepping in a career belonging only to men.”

Ruth Cruikshank Bussey, box M4963, folder 6

Sylvia Scribner (1923-1991) was the valedictorian of her class at Smith College in 1943 and went to work as the research director for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. She later returned to school, earning her MA from the City University of New York (CUNY) and a PhD from the New School of Social Research in 1970. She was on the faculty at CUNY, worked as a senior research associate at Rockefeller University, the associate director of the National Institute of Education, and as a senior scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics. She focused on cultural literacy and learning, worker’s rights, women’s issues in society and the workplace, minority concerns, and labor practices and the more I learned about her, the cooler she became.

Scribner took up a research project at a dairy processing plant to study learning and knowledge through recall between different groups at the dairy – customers, office workers, warehouse workers, and delivery drivers. The collection has detailed interview notes and materials from the study. In her published work from the study, Scribner writes that the observations at the dairy were useful in that they, “…stimulate new ways of thinking about knowledge and practice that avoid the old entrenched dualisms” and “social knowledge is differentiated from, but not opposed to, individual knowledge.” Scribner conducted similar recall research studies in Liberia and concluded, “…recall output tends to reflect the organizational structure subjects impose on material” and regardless of culture, age, or geography these processes seemed to be universal.

Notation on back: 1/15/1977. Sinkor. Hamidu Getaweh and Sylvia
Sylvia Scribner papers, box V81, folder 8

In describing Scribner’s research to Dr. Faye she said to me, “It’s the human and social element. Each place has its own society and its own forms of social knowledge that work for that place and those people.”

Dr. Jodi Kearns, Director of the Institute for Human Science & Culture told me Molly Harrower was her favorite because, “she seems badass.” Also, when asked by T. Kraweic in his oral history series about her philosophy of life, Dr. Kearns told me that Harrower gives the “Best. Answer. Ever.”

Molly Harrower (1906-1999) took some psychology classes while at Beford College, University of London with Beatrice Edgell but never earned a psychology degree. She worked with Charles K. Ogden and with a helpful letter from him, Harrower arrived at Smith College on a fellowship to work with Kurt Koffka. She earned her PhD in 1934 and went on to work with Wilder Penfield at the Montreal Neurological Institute, established a private practice and did work in psycodiagnostics and psychotherapy, consulted in the military, served as Research Director of the Children’s Court of Manhattan, wrote poetry, and eventually joined the faculty at the University of Florida, teaching clinical psychology until her retirement.

The Molly Harrower papers include numerous still images and I asked Dr. Kearns to pick a couple of her favorites.

Molly Harrower papers, box V53

And Dr. Kearns was right. When T. Kraweic asked at the end of an hour long oral history interview her philosophy of life, she laughed and gave the best answer ever. “I practically have no prohibitions….If it isn’t fun, what is it? There are millions of things you can do and doing one you don’t like doesn’t help anybody….If you can harness all your energy and all your enjoyment and all your creativity into some form of action that’s what you should take. And that’s what I try to do.”

Hearing Molly say these words is mostly certainly better than reading them.

So listen here:

Theophile S. Krawiec collection, box A13, tape 40

There are numerous inspiring and important women in the collections here at the Cummings Center. Women who changed the course of the history of the field. But when it comes down to brass tacks, “numerous” isn’t actually very accurate. Of the 466 processed manuscript collections we house, just 81 of them are the personal papers of women. So, who is my favorite woman in the collection? I’m not sure and maybe her papers aren’t here yet.

To twist Molly’s words a bit, “If history isn’t inclusive, what is it?”

Happy Women’s History Month.

 contributed by Tony Pankuch. For a screen reader compatible pdf of this post and documents contained within, click here.

As discussed in the CCHP’s recent video, Robert V. Guthrie and the Search for Psychology’s Hidden Figures, little work had been done prior to the 1970s to seriously spotlight the scientific contributions of Black psychologists in the United States. In the 1950s, Black psychologists remained marginalized in a field that had historically contributed to their societal oppression. Yet circumstances leading up the 1957 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association led to a purposeful effort among APA leadership to solicit the opinions of the organization’s Black members. In doing so, they collected valuable documentary evidence of marginalization in the nation’s top professional psychological organization.

Backing up for a moment, the situation surrounding the 1957 APA Convention began seven years earlier, in 1950, when the APA resolved that its meetings would henceforth be held only in institutions, hotels, and establishments which did not discriminate on the basis of race or religion. Two years later, following instances of racial discrimination during the 1952 Convention in Washington, D.C., the APA passed an additional resolution vowing not to return the convention to Washington “until additional progress has been made towards democratic treatment of minority groups.”

Fast forward to 1954, and the APA’s Council of Representatives had just voted to hold the 1957 Convention in Miami Beach, Florida—a segregated city in an extremely segregated state. APA Executive Secretary Fillmore H. Sanford explained the situation in Miami Beach somewhat optimistically:

(Click each document to enlarge.)

Document 1: See link at beginning of post.
1956, May 4. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Note the phrase, “these are predictions and not actualities.” No one at APA could know exactly what might happen if they were to host an integrated convention in Florida. The events in Washington, D.C. had shown that, despite assurances from hotels and other establishments, racist harassment and violence remained likely in any highly segregated city.

In the years leading up to the convention, votes were held and public comments were solicited from APA members, depicting a wide range of opinions. The arguments in favor of hosting the convention in Miami Beach did not dismiss the racial segregation of the city and state. Rather, proponents believed that hosting an integrated convention in the South would actually help to advance democracy in the region. As argued by Convention Manager Jack A. Kapchan:

Document 2: See link at beginning of post.
1956, May 18. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Kapchan’s letter was circulated among APA membership, and his argument gained the enthusiastic backing of many who cited it in their own comments. Votes were cast indicating strong support for holding the convention in Miami Beach.

Five days after Kapchan wrote his letter, Sanford drafted a written request to be sent to 37 Black psychologists who were APA members. It read:

Document 3: See link at beginning of post.
1956, May 23. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Should APA hold its 1957 meetings in Miami Beach? Would the cause of democracy be served better by going, under the conditions described, or by refusing to go? Would you yourself go to the meeting in Miami Beach? Would you plan to attend the 1957 meetings if they were held, say, in Boston. You can see where answers to these and related questions will be of material assistance to the Board in making a sound decision on this matter.

The responses that Sanford received came from a who’s who of notable Black psychologists, some of whom would later be profiled by Robert V. Guthrie in his landmark book Even the Rat Was White. James A. Bayton, for instance, characterized a Miami Beach convention as “a mighty big risk”:

Document 4: See link at beginning of post.
1956, June 18. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box V59, Folder 2.

Herman G. Canady, who notably studied racial bias in IQ testing, offered a longer response, holding the APA accountable to its 1950 and 1952 resolutions and placing the situation within a larger social and historical context:

Document 5: See link at beginning of post.
1956, June 18. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box M3533, Folder 4.

Like Canady, Roger K. Williams offered an important justification for his refusal to attend a Miami Beach convention: the danger of interstate travel.

Document 6: See link at beginning of post.
1956, June 23. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box M3533, Folder 4.

Williams’s point is an important one. To reach Miami Beach by driving, members would have to pass through the heart of the Deep South, states like Alabama and Georgia where white supremacy, segregation, and anti-Black violence were legally enshrined. This was the era of The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide which identified the all-too-rare hotels, restaurants, and other businesses where African Americans could safely stop during their travels cross-country. Even with the Green Book in hand, Black travelers still put themselves in immense danger travelling through unknown towns and cities in the Deep South.

Not all respondents to Sanford’s letter were opposed to a Miami Beach convention, however. Martin D. Jenkins supported the location, so long as the APA held true to the principles of its 1950 and 1952 resolutions:

Document 7: See link at beginning of post.
1956, June 20. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box M3533, Folder 4

Howard E. Wright agreed with Kapchan’s letter in his response, citing a Miami Beach convention as a “desirable social strategy”:

Document 8: See link at beginning of post.
1956, June 18. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box M3533, Folder 4.

Yet perhaps the most stirring response to this matter came from Mary A. Morton:

Document 9: See link at beginning of post.
1956, July 2. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box M3533, Folder 4.

You state in your letter that “The issues are almost paralyzing in their complexity.” For me, as an individual, the issues are simple: (1) Will Mary Morton feel secure in joining in any and all proposals for joint activity or will she have to wonder if the particular place involved will welcome her along with all others in the group? … If she is going to have to be concerned about things like these, she stays at home. … Conventions should be intellectually stimulating but they should also be relatively carefree.

… Miami Beach may really become an oasis in a desolate region for purposes of the 1957 meeting, but my acute awareness of how desolate is the region would prevent my enjoying any sojourn into the oasis. Local newspapers and radios would certainly be constant reminders that I was in hostile territory.

In her response, Morton clearly addressed the privilege of both Sanford and the APA’s Council of Representatives. They could easily distance themselves from the dangers of a segregated city, focusing largely upon high-minded principles and potential ideological victories. For Black psychologists like Morton, attending a Miami Beach convention meant putting themselves in “hostile territory,” risking their safety and the safety of their loved ones for the sake of a convention that could just as easily be held in a Northern city.

In June of 1956, a committee of four was assigned to visit Miami Beach to gather further information. Stuart W. Cook represented APA’s Board of Directors and chaired the committee, and was joined by psychologists Robert Kleemeier, Arthur Combs, and S. O. Roberts. Roberts had already voiced his opposition to a Miami Beach convention in no uncertain terms:

Document 10: See link at beginning of post.
1956, May 31. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Photo from the Robert V. Guthrie papers, Box M3533, Folder 4.

The committee carried out a review of dining facilities, hotels, recreational facilities, and transportation. They met with representatives from other organizations, including the American Library Association, who hosted integrated meetings in Miami Beach. In his final report, approved by the rest of the committee, Cook testified that the group encountered no instance of discriminatory behavior. Yet the group could not eliminate all possibility of discrimination, nor could they deny that many Black attendees would feel uncomfortable staying in Miami Beach due to the culture of the South. Cook concluded:

Document 11: See link at beginning of post.
1956, July 3. Stuart Cook papers, Box M2331, Folder 2, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

The 1957 Annual Convention of the APA was held in New York City from August 30th to September 5th. The convention would not be held in Miami Beach until 1970, six years after the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally prohibited discrimination on the basis of race.

The prolonged nature of this controversy and the responses of Black members of the APA highlight the tangible ways that marginalization can occur in psychology and other professional fields. In pushing for a Miami Beach convention as part of a “social strategy,” supporters of the location were not entirely misguided. All major civil rights movements in the United States have required their participants to assume some risk of personal harm. Yet it was largely white psychologists who concocted this social strategy, not the Black men and women who were asked to put themselves in harm’s way. Further, most of those Black psychologists were not seeking to take part in an act of defiance against Southern racism—rather, they were simply trying to participate in their professional community and attend a conference for the benefit of their careers and their field.

Had the 1957 APA Conference been held in Miami Beach, Black psychologists who rightly feared for their safety in the South would have been denied access to the largest psychological conference in the United States. The comments of these psychologists helped push the APA to remain true to the principles of racial equality and integration, yet the resolutions of 1950 and 1952 should have invalidated this controversy from the beginning. Circumstances such as these were far from the only systematic barriers faced by Black psychologists in the mid-20th century, but they clearly illustrate how well-meaning policies and resolutions could, and still do, overlook the complexities of racial injustice.


Additional materials on the 1957 APA Convention are available for research in the Stuart Cook papers at the Archives of the History of American Psychology at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. To request additional materials from these papers, please contact ahap@uakron.edu.

A Boring Mentorship Blog

~ contributed by Jodi Kearns.

In the early 1950s, Lauren G. Wispé set out to study social and psychological factors associated with eminence in the field of psychology by analyzing selected psychologists’ responses to a 12-page questionnaire asking about family, early education, and socioeconomic backgrounds. If you want to read Wispé’s results, have a look at Traits of Eminent American Psychologists published in Science in 1963.

The Cummings Center has a small collection of the returned questionnaires, which have some coding marks from the data analysis, and no additional research materials. In a previous blog, we pulled excerpts from the Wispé survey question, Have there been any handicaps or factors which have interferred [sic] with your career?

Some other questions ask about parents’ ages at the psychologist’s birth, parents’ professions, and family members’ achieved levels of education. Questions cover work experience, mentors and influences, promising students, and prominent research and publications. The collection is a trove of eminent psychologist autobiography and self-awareness.

For National Mentoring Month, these excerpts focus on survey questions about leaders on faculties, field influences, and outstanding students.

Abraham Maslow, for example, wrote Harry Harlow in several places in his responses to questions about faculty leaders when he was a grad student.

Abraham Maslow’s responses to: Name of man (men) who supervised your dissertation
Abraham Maslow’s responses to: Name some of the outstanding Leaders on the faculty while you were [in graduate school]
Abraham Maslow’s responses to: As a student I was stimulated by

Though, Harry Harlow did not name Maslow as one of his outstanding students. Ope.

Harry Harlow’s responses to: Names of outstanding students who have worked with you

To add another branch to this genealogy of academic mentorship, Walter Miles lists Harry Harlow as an outstanding student, making Miles Maslow’s academic grandparent.

Walter Miles’ responses to: Name of outstanding students who have worked for you

Gordon Allport couldn’t wrap his head around the limitations of the survey and just could not bring himself to write down his influences because there were too many variables.

Gordon Allport’s response to: As a student I was most stimulated by

And Frank Beach hadn’t had any outstanding students in his first five years of practice.

Frank Beach’s response to: Names of outstanding students who have worked with you

Max Wertheimer‘s list of outstanding students looks like a Who’s Who of CCHP content.

Max Wertheimer’s responses to: Names of outstanding students who have worked with you
Köhler, Koffka, Duncker, Arnheim, Asch, Luchins

There are more than a hundred survey responses listing influences, mentors, and promising students in this collection, and my personal favorite is pulled from E. G. Boring‘s questionnaire responses.

Who chaired Boring’s dissertation? E. B. Titchener.

Who were the leaders on faculty at Boring’s grad program at Cornell? E. B. Titchener et al.

Who stimulated Boring’s thinking and academics? You guessed it.

What other facilities besides the library and the psychology labs were conducive to Boring’s research and study? The personality of E. B. Titchener.

To close the questionnaire, respondents were asked to break down habits and traits of their faculty leaders on a scale, where we learn that Titchener was not noted for his cooperativeness nor did he appreciate a good joke on himself.

Boring closes the checklist with a footnote, in much the same way he footnotes many of his responses to this questionnaire. And I’ll close with this transcription of E. G. Boring’s checklist summary where he compares his academic influencer to Jehovah and describes feeling relief upon his death. Oof.

“Whew! Good Lord! To reduce EBTitchener to check marks! How insulted he would have been, he who regarded any questionnaire as an insult and invasion of his privacy!

Checking col.1 is humorous, because so many of the checks are understatements. Was Titchener self-assured? Was Jehovah? Did he make others enthusiastic? Would he tolerate anyone under him being less that [sic] maniacally enthsuastic [sic]?

Titchener dominated us all, yet I could not answer items 26-27 [edit], p.3. His insistence on the correctness of his knowledge as to the proper conduct of the details of the lives of his graduate students and the fact that he was so seldom demonstrably wrong created ambivalent responses. More of his good students broke bitterly with him than remained loyal. I remained loyal, yet held my dissents rigidly, insisting on doing many professional things of which Titchener disapproved. You could say he was my chief stimulator, yet his death left me with a great sense of freedom (like John Mill when James Mill died in 1837) and all my effective productive productivity has been since this release came to me.”

And a shout out to my mentor, Dr. Brian C. O’Connor, who sealed my academic fate the day he dropped a copy of his mentor’s book on my desk in grad school, Patrick Wilson‘s Public Knowledge Private Ignorance.

Know Thyself

~ contributed by Nicole Orchosky based on her Capstone project for completion of the Museums & Archives Studies certificate. Know Thyself serves as an intro to an online exhibition Nicole has also prepared.

Toward the end of the 1700s, a young Franz Joseph Gall sat in a schoolroom and glanced around at his fellow classmates. Gall caught on to a trend that fascinated him–he noticed that the students with excellent memorization skills often had prominent eyes and large foreheads. This discovery led Gall to hypothesize that the physical structure of one’s head may correspond to one’s personality traits in consistent and predictable ways. As Gall grew older he began to lecture on the subject, he expanded his theory into the science of phrenology, which quickly gained traction in Europe before spreading overseas to America by way of Gall’s own student Johann Kaspar Spurzheim [1]. 

Franz Joseph Gall, credited as the creator of phrenology.
Image credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian Institution. “Smithsonian Learning Lab Resource: Franz Joseph Gall 1758-1828).” Smithsonian Learning Lab, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, 25 Nov. 2016.

Phrenology, now considered pseudoscience, was widely popular in the 19th century among the general public as a way to make sense of human behavior. Middle class Americans were drawn to phrenology as one may be drawn to the predictions of astrological horoscope. They took comfort in the notion that something as unpredictable and subjective as the human psyche could now be quantified by a series of cranial measurements. The skull was divided into regions called “organs,” and the physical measurement of an organ would determine if you exhibited more or less of the personality trait corresponding to that organ. Gall theorized that the more developed the trait, the larger the organ, and the larger a protrusion it formed in the skull [1].

Phrenological bust from Fowler and Wells’ Phrenological Cabinet showing the “organs” of the brain and labelled with corresponding characteristics. Visit the National Museum of Psychology to see a phrenological bust up close.
Image credit: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. “Smithsonian Learning Lab Resource: Phrenology, By L. N. Fowler.” Smithsonian Learning Lab. 29 Jan. 2020. Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access. 06 Dec. 2020.

As soon as brothers Orson and Lorenzo Fowler learned of the theory from visiting lecturer Spurzheim, they turned Phrenology into their life’s passion and joined with fellow phrenological enthusiast Samuel R. Wells to establish America’s most prominent phrenological hub, The Phrenological Cabinet in New York City [2]. The storefront functioned as a museum, medical office, and publishing house all in one. Busts, both real and replica skulls, and phrenological diagrams and literature were displayed and sold here. Anyone could walk in and have their own skull measured and examined to gain a better sense of self as well as discover ways in which they could correct their negative behaviors. Magazines like The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated were published and distributed here, including writings by the Fowlers themselves, who spent much of their time lecturing about their theories all over the country.

Samuel R. Wells, Charlotte Fowler Wells, and Lorenzo N. Fowler stand in the doorway of S.R. Wells & Co., The Phrenological Cabinet, with two other men.
Image credit: Fowler and Wells families papers, #97. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

While the Fowlers gallivanted around America on lengthy lecture tours, who was left to take care of the family business? Samuel R. Wells oversaw the publishing side of The Phrenological Cabinet, but it was primarily the three men’s wives who took on the managerial and sometimes medical responsibilities within the office. Phrenology allowed women a sense of autonomy by allowing them a better understanding of their own mind and body, and for many women phrenology was a socially acceptable entry point to begin to seek out scientific knowledge.  Abigail Fowler-Chumos, wife of Orson Fowler, became “Orson’s business manager, property manager, publisher, and phrenologist-in-training” [3]. Charlotte Fowler Wells, wife of Samuel Wells and sister to the Fowlers, “was the firm’s longstanding and highly respected business manager” and was even known as the “Mother of Phrenology” [3]. Lydia Fowler Wells, wife of Lorenzo Fowler, “was the second woman to receive an M.D. in the USA, after [British] Elizabeth Blackwell,” making her the first American woman to receive an M.D. [4]. When it came to the business of phrenology, middle-class American women were not only the number one consumers; they ran the show. 

Lydia Folger Fowler, M. D, was the first American female doctor of medicine. She was also the first female professor at an American medical college.
Image credit: “The Late Mrs. Lydia F. Fowler, M. D.” Wheaton College, c. 1880. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lydia_Folger_Fowler.jpg#metadata

During the Civil War, women stepped up to run their households in their husbands’ absences. Women were not about to let go of their newfound autonomy during the following Gilded Age, and phrenology was one of the earliest scientific fields in which women could practice and participate. You would be surprised to learn how progressive the Fowlers were as they “combined the business of phrenology with the work of reform, linking the science to temperance, dress reform, diet reform, water-cure and women’s rights” [4]. 

You can learn more about phrenology and women’s role in the field in the “Know Thyself” virtual exhibition.

Thirteen complete issues of The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated are now available as digital editions of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection.

Sources Used:

  1. Morse, Minna Scherlinder. “Facing a Bumpy History,” Smithsonian Magazine, 1997 Oct. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/facing-a-bumpy-history-144497373/
  2. “Orson S. Fowler,” The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated, Vol. 84-85, pp. 196-198. 
  3. Lilleleht, Erica. “‘Assuming the Privilege’ of Bridging Divides,” History of Psychology, vol. 18, no. 4, 2015, pp. 414-432.
  4. Bittel, Carla. “Woman, Know Thyself: Producing and Using Phrenological Knowledge in 19th-Century America,” Centaurus, 19 April 2014, pp. 104-130.

Will-o’-the-Wispé

~ contributed by Jodi Kearns & Abigail Williamson; Abby is a University of Akron history major who worked with the Wispé collection for her Museums & Archives Studies certificate Capstone Experience.

In the early 1950s, Lauren G. Wispé set out to study social and psychological factors associated with eminence in the field of psychology by analyzing selected psychologists’ responses to a 12-page questionnaire asking about family, early education, and socioeconomic backgrounds. If you want to read Wispé’s results, have a look at Traits of Eminent American Psychologists published in Science in 1963.

The Cummings Center has a small collection of the returned questionnaires, which have some coding marks from the data analysis, and no additional research materials.

Some of the questions ask about parents’ ages at the psychologist’s birth, parents’ professions, and family members’ achieved levels of education. Questions cover work experience, mentors and influences, promising students, and prominent research and publications. The collection is a trove of eminent psychologist autobiography and self-awareness.

Even one seemingly simple question opens a rabbit hole one can fall into for hours, such as the question, Have there been any handicaps or factors which have interferred [sic] with your career?

Some wrote that there were financial factors interfering with their careers:

Henry Edward Garrett
Chauncey McKinley Louttit
Floyd L Ruch

Some interfering factors were physical health:

Roger Garlock Barker
Arnold L Gesell
Gardner Murphy

Some factors were matters of personality and mental health:

Floyd Allport
Donald George Marquis

Writer’s block:

Dale Benner Harris

Mediocre conversationalist:

Stanley Smith Stevens

Unattractiveness:

Mitchell Dreese

Insufficient education was quite a common factor:

Charles William Bray
Donald Wallace MacKinnon
Walter Richard Miles

Cultural handicaps? Absolutely.

Samuel Weiller Fernberger
George Wilfred Hartman
David Krech
Lawrence S Rogers
Max Wertheimer

Too many assigned administrative responsibilities? Of course.

Carl I Hovland
Clifford Thomas Morgan

Some psychologists listed many factors:

Harold Mowbray Hildreth
Abraham Harold Maslow
Lewis Madison Terman
Robert Mearns Yerkes

And many fortunate fellows had none:

Gordon W Allport
Harry Frederick Harlow
Laurance Frederic Shaffer
Burrhus Frederic Skinner
Donald Edwin Super

And then there are these mid-20th Century vaguebookers:

Louis Leon Thurstone
William Clark Trow
George Richard Wendt

The Wispé questionnaires are both a chronical of self and a database of whimsy, which hold innumerable research projects and social media posts. We’re investigating the best way to make these digitized surveys and transcriptions fully available to you, while we await the time-consuming completion of the project.

Want to read what E.G. Boring wrote about E.B. Tichener being “adequate” and that Harry Harlow found his professors “moderately competent?” Want to read how E. C. Tolman named David Krech as an outstanding student and Krech listed Tolman as an academic mentor?

This collection has the tea, in psychologists’ own handwriting, and we’re excited to spill.

contributed by Nicole Orchosky, University of Akron student in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program. Nicole is completing her capstone at the CCHP.

You may be thinking, “nothing!” but an article in The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated argues that your ears say more about you than you ever could have guessed.

Phrenology is defined as, “the study of the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character”[1]. Phrenology begs the question, can all aspects of one’s personality be correctly determined based merely on the shape and appearance of one’s skull and its subtle lumps, bumps, and indentations?

Cover of The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated, Vol. 2, No. 1, Jan 1875. The illustration of the profile of a man’s head pictured on the journal’s cover depicts the phrenological theory that the skull can be divided into sections, and that the physical appearance of these sections directly corresponds with certain traits, e.g. memory, language, self-esteem, or benevolence.

The article “Our Ears—And Their Significance” makes the bold claim that the shape and general appearance of the ear is a strong indicator of one’s demeanor. The ear can be described by three of six basic variables: large or small, regular or irregular, and projecting or close. The article asserts that large ears indicate gentleness, tractability, docility, and teachableness. Those with small ears are conversely more authoritative and less susceptible to “being bossed.”[2] Irregular ears, those with less smooth, defined edges, denote irregularity or eccentricity in one’s mental faculties, while regular ears suggest a regularity and uniformity in character. Finally, projecting ears indicate that the subject is harmless, while ears set close and flat to the head indicate destructiveness or combativeness.

Of course, an illustrated journal cannot be complete without illustrations to accompany its claims. “Our Ears—And Their Significance” is supplemented by several (somewhat exaggerated) depictions of differently shaped ears and what they reveal about their wearers. The following are a few examples.

Here, a subject with large, regular, projected ears is assumed to be calm and steady in demeanor.
Perhaps the most average in appearance, this man with medium-sized, smooth ears is assumed to be well-balanced.
This man with small, irregular, closely cropped ears is thought to be mean and inquisitive.
Finally, this man described as a “smashed subject” has large, irregular ears. According to the article, one may expect him to be docile but eccentric.

Thirteen complete issues of The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated will be made available as a digital editions of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection by December 2020.

Sources Used:

  1. “Phrenology.” Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phrenology
  2. “Our Ears—And Their Significance.” The Phrenological and Life Illustrated, Vol. 2, No. 1. Jan 1875. Pp. 17-29.

 contributed by Tony Pankuch.

What kind of reader are you? Are you the type who enjoys psychological quizzes and assessments? Are you a seeker of personal introspection in the form of multiple choice, “Yes or No” style questions? Or do you find these exercises to be a trivial bore? Read on to discover whether you fit the profile of a personality test aficionado!

Today, most of us have taken some form of personality assessment. The Myers-Briggs Test is one popular example of this, sorting people into one of 16 psychological categories based on the theories of Carl Jung. Other examples can be found all over the internet; consider the multiple choice “Which developmental psychologist are you?”-style quizzes that you might see shared on social media.

This sort of testing has its roots in the early 20th century, and one of the early enthusiasts of the format was William Moulton Marston, a psychologist best known for his lie detector prototype and the creation of Wonder Woman, the popular DC Comics superhero. A regular contributor to popular psychology magazines, Marston created a number of tests and self-assessments for recognizing personal defects and psychological “types.”

Let’s take a look at a few. First up, how shy are you? Follow the instructions for “The ? Test” and find your score, from 0 (most shy) to 100 (most outgoing, presumably).

To test yourself, answer the following questions prepared by William Moulton Marston., distinguished psychologist, educator, and author. Each question may be answered in three different ways. If your answer is an unqualified "No", score yourself 10 for that question. If it is "Yes", score 0. If it is "Sometimes", score 5. When several examples of the same type of shyness are included in one question, you may score yourself separately on each example, then average those part-scores together to get your complete score for the question. To arrive at your total score for the test, simply add the ten question scores.
If you want to know what impression you make on other people get your friends to score for you. 
1. Do you dread meeting people for the first time, attending parties or other social functions, or making calls on comparative strangers?
2. Do you hate to ask favors of people, to ask for a	job or a raise in pay, or to ask strangers to direct you when traveling?
3. Do you look enviously at a group of people who are laughing and talking together without making any effort to join them, and do you feel awkward and tongue-tied when you are a member of such a group?
4. Do you hesitate to return articles that you have bought just because they are not just right, and does it make you feel small to insist upon the salesperson giving you exactly what you want?
5. Are you afraid of policemen, lawyer's letters, prominent people, or your superiors in business?
6. Are you afraid of what barbers, manicurists, or waiters may be thinking about you?
7. When you express an opinion or idea, and someone says authoritatively that you are wrong, do you thereupon believe your own ideas worthless?
8. Do you make misplays in golf, bridge, or any favorite game when you know people are watching you?
9. Do you agree politely with opinions contrary to your own in order to avoid an argument?
10. Do you let acquaintances or business associates impose upon you rather than take them to task and insist upon your rights?
1913. J. Gustav White papers, Test Center

What was your score? Are you feeling confident in your personality? If not, maybe the Inferiority Detection Test will help you to understand why.

Answer the following questions frankly: this test is worthless unless you do. You must acknowledge, at least, the symptoms of your favorite inferiorities before you can begin to play the exciting game of defeating them. 
1. Do you privately resent or despise some business superior?
2. Do you avoid social contacts with some person, or group of people, who have, in your opinion, more money or social standing than you possess?
3. Do you frequently belittle a successful person mentioned in conversation or in news reports?
4. Do you often feel rage or hatred against individuals with whose political principles you disagree?
5. Are you convinced that the opposite sex has more faults and weaknesses than your own?
6. Are you intolerant of any religious or racial group to which you do not belong?
7. Do you resent the success of another person in your own field of endeavor who has educational standing which you lack, or who lacks educational training which you possess?
8. If you're a girl or wife, do you flare up spitefully and critically against women who interest the man you love?
9. If you're a man, do you resent feminine heart-flutter­ing over male movie stars, fiction heroes or attractive men in your own social set?
10. Do you feel that the world or people in it are unjust to you, that you aren't getting a fair chance in life?
Your Personality magazine, Fall 1944, Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

According to Marston’s ratings, identifying 5-7 of these inferiorities in yourself should serve as a “warning,” while holding 8 or more is a sign that “your personality situation is precarious.” If you’re feeling like you need to take action, you might consider pursuing some of Marston’s “Suggestions for Self-Changing Practice” (featuring another short set of tests).

1. Observe these danger signals: Are you so filled with hatred and fear of marauding, map-changing nations that you are unable to concentrate upon the necessary changes to be made in our own national life? 
Do you associate and converse mostly with people whose opinions agree with yours? 
Do you rise and go to bed every day at the same time, eat the same things for breakfast and generally let the clock control you? 
Do you believe that your salary should be raised for staying in the same, unchanging job a long time? 
Do you avoid reading, radio and conversation on topics you are not in the habit of thinking about? 
2. If the above tests show your personality is ossifying, begin limbering up your character as follows: Change all your physical habits for a week and repeat the prescription once a month. Rise earlier or later, eat different meals, walk if you usually ride or vice versa, alter every item on your daily schedule which lies within your power to 'change. 
Expose yourself to new ideas. Buy a different newspaper, read unaccustomed books, attend lectures and hold conversations on subjects totally foreign to your present mental habits. 
Adapt socially to unfamiliar people. Invite new acquaintances to the house, share sports with new companions, make a card index of everybody you know and see a different person on your list every week. 
Do new work. Volunteer at the office to help on work in advance of your own. Do some business studying, reading, take some courses. 
Change your home attitudes. Give your wife or husband a treat they have always wanted but never had; visit some new place every day; let each member of the family, on Sunday morning, prescribe something for another member to do which he or she has not done for a month or more; spend one evening a week, in suitable domestic seclusion, without clothes.
Your Life magazine, September 1940, Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

Some of these suggestions may feel a bit outdated, unless you’re a big fan of card indexes. Alternatively, you might be eager for some more definitive personality “types,” rather than vague psychological weaknesses. In that case, you’re in luck.

Type D 
1. If your way through the woods were blocked by a bramble patch, would you force your way through rather than detour half a mile?
2. Would you rather be a prominent person in Skeedunk than a little known individual in New York City?
3. When you start a thing do you pride yourself on finishing it?
4. Would you break the string on a bundle, if you could do so easily, rather than go for scissors?
5. Do you get tired of hearing about much-publicized people and feel an impulse to belittle them? 
6. When someone says a thing is impossible do you want to do it?
7. If you fell going down hill on skis, would you want to try that hill again immediately?
(Alternative: If a closet containing something you want immediately were locked and the key lost, would you break the door open?) 

Type C:
1. Do you obey "Keep Off the Grass" signs? 
2. Do you like to make careful preparations before beginning a task? 
3. Would you rather keep a purchase that is slightly defective than go back and argue about it with the store clerk?
4. Would you wear an unbecoming hat, because it was stylish?
5. Would you rather keep your job at your present salary than risk it by asking for a raise?
6. Would you give in to a child rather than endure his temper tantrums?
7. Would you rather live in a less commodious house in a fashionable neighborhood, than in a more adequate one "across the tracks?"
(Alternative: If your boss wanted you to do something in a way you believed inefficient, would you do it without protest?)
Your Life magazine, September 1939, Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

This is Part One of Marston’s test to reveal “Your True Self.” Your answers above will reveal whether you are Dominant, Compliant, or Desireful.

  • If you answered “yes” to more of the “Type D” questions, you are a Dominant personality type–an independent master of your own fate. Marston writes that the “surest way to get you interested in something is to tell you it can’t be done.”
  • If you answered “yes” to more of the “Type C” questions, you are a Compliant personality type–timid and cautious. According to Marston, you “prefer security to prestige and safety to triumph.”
  • Lastly, if you answered “yes” to an equal number of both question types, you have a Desireful personality. Marston suggests that “your purposes in life should contain a happy blending of dominance and compliance.” He goes on to argue that those occupying this category have a blend of qualities suited to overcome most any obstacle in life.

Interestingly, two of these categories mirror Marston’s “DISC” model of behavioral expression, which sorted behaviors into four categories: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. DISC theory would later be adapted into a form of personality assessment, but not by Marston. The DISC model was used for personnel selection by industrial psychologist Walter V. Clarke, who slightly altered the four categories to describe four personality factors that he observed in his own studies.

So how are you feeling? Have you learned anything about yourself? Personality psychology has changed considerably since Marston’s popular work. Today, the APA recognizes personality assessment as a proficiency in professional psychology that involves “empirically supported measures of personality traits and styles.” Regardless, anecdotal tests like these, popularized by Marston in magazines, can be a fun way to pass time and think a little bit deeper about our personalities. They can help us to better understand how we and our friends function in our social environment.

Just don’t take them too seriously!

Citations:

Scullard, M., & Baum, D. (2015). Everything DiSC Manual (pp. 185–187). Wiley.

The events of Summer 2020 have no doubt had a profound impact on the work and perspective of arts and culture institutions across the United States. Protests, still ongoing, against the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black civilians by police have placed a national spotlight on the systems that enforce racial injustice in this country. Countless institutions, including the Cummings Center, have taken this opportunity to reflect upon representations of racial diversity and civil unrest in their collections, and to use those representations as a means of furthering dialogue and providing a historical background for our tumultuous present.

However, highlighting diversity and historical relevance in material collections is not enough to address the inequalities that impact Black Americans in their daily lives. We must all come to terms with how our own ongoing actions contribute to racial inequality in our institutions and in the communities that we serve. It is essential for us to take a proactive role in recognizing and addressing these issues.

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology stands against social injustice, including all forms of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia. We recognize that there is a long way to go in fostering true equity, inclusivity, and diversity within our institution and the larger fields of psychology and museum education. In order to work toward a more equitable future and to specifically address anti-Black racism, we are committed to carrying out the following ongoing actions:

  • We will conduct racial equity impact assessments for all major institutional decisions and programming going forward.
  • We will devote our time and resources to the greater representation of Black individuals and historic perspectives in our collections and programming.
  • We have formed a committee which will meet monthly to discuss the promotion of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion and the creation of specific goals and initiatives.

These are merely the first steps in a long-term process of actively challenging our own perspectives and combating racial inequity. Though thorough and widespread changes to the fields and industries in which we work cannot happen overnight, we hope that our actions going forward will contribute to a more equitable environment for the next generation of psychologists, archivists, and museum professionals.

The events of this year have undeniably shifted priorities around issues of diversity and inclusion, but their importance transcends this moment in history. Black lives have always mattered, and they always will. We are dedicated to carrying out this principle within our institution and within our community.

This two-part post from guest blogger Linda Bussey, Director of the Hower House Museum in Akron, discusses how to care for vintage textiles like linens and table cloths.

Now that your textiles are cleaned, you can safely display or store them. Please be mindful that these vintage items should not be displayed in direct sunlight or in an overly hot or damp area. Otherwise their unhappiness will become evident with fading or mildew.

Also remember that if these pieces are used, they must periodically be gently rewashed. Hand towels will become especially high maintenance. It might be best to have a “do not use” policy for vintage towels.

For safely storing your vintage treasures, you will need a few things:

  • Archival tissue paper or 100% cotton muslin fabric
  • Acid -free/archival storage boxes or
  • Polypropylene plastic storage bin with a lid. Be sure to look for this symbol on the bottom of the bin, indicating it is safe for storing textiles:

The acid-free/archival tissue and storage boxes may be obtained from a museum supply or from a craft supply store. Acid-free photo storage boxes may be used for small items but loosely wrap the contents in acid-free tissue or cotton fabric. Do not store with photos. Cotton fabric may be purchased from a fabric store or online and be pre-washed in unscented laundry soap without fabric softener and dried without use of dryer sheets. The fabric will be a bit wrinkled as a result, but do not despair! You can try out your new pressing skills as outlined here in the quick reference guide!

Regarding storage in a plastic bin, yes, it sounds a bit strange, I know. However, a bin of the polypropylene (PP) variety is fine for fabric storage, and may be obtained at discount stores. There is a long list of other, non-safe plastics that should not be used, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Now that you have your supplies gathered, let’s discuss how best to package the items to keep them safe and happy. Prepare a large flat surface to fold or roll the item(s). If you plan to fold them, they should be cushioned to avoid creasing, which can stress the fibers. Use acid -free tissue paper or cotton fabric scrunched up to form a small roll where the item is folded. Once folded or rolled, loosely wrap the item(s) in acid -free paper or cotton fabric, particularly if multiple items will be stored together.

Place items in an acid-free archival box or in a safe storage bin (as noted above). If rolled items are too large for a storage container, fold diagonally with the more delicate side of the item to the inside of the packet; this will help alleviate wear and tear on the more fragile stitching and surface embellishments. Make sure the container is slightly larger than needed to avoid overcrowding. Larger items, such as bedspreads, coverlets, or quilts may need to be stored separately. As always, store in a moderately temperate, dry area, away from direct sunlight, extreme cold or heat.

On a final note, be kind to your textile treasures. Remember to “visit” them occasionally to see how they are holding up. Unfurl them and let them air out for an hour or so. Whi le that is happening, be sure to examine the storage container to look for evidence of insect activity. Not my idea of a good time, either, but check anyway. Your textiles might need an intervention and to be freshened up with new wrappings. Wipe out the storage containers with a damp cloth and let air dry before carefully refolding them in a different direction, rewrapping and returning them to the container.

Having vintage textiles is a serious commitment—sometimes tedious—but well worth it . Cared for correctly, they will provide years of enjoyment and given a new lease on life because you put in the effort.

Textile Sachet Recipe

Follow this recipe and instructions for making a sachet that not only smells good, but protects your textiles from cloth-destroying pests.

Sachet ingredients: lavender, spearmint, bay leaves
Filling the sachet bag

This two-part post from guest blogger Linda Bussey, Director of the Hower House Museum in Akron, discusses how to care for vintage textiles like linens and table cloths.

Imagine inheriting a collection of vintage linens from a favorite auntie. Perhaps she was the most influential person in your life—a bit eccentric, ahead of her time—a colorful character who influenced the YOU of today. Of course, honoring and keeping her memory alive is now emotionally invested in those textiles. No pressure here!

This blog will give you a starting place when dealing with vintage textiles, much of it learned from one of those eccentric, special people in my own life. I try to honor her memory by teaching others what I learned then and since. (Thank you, Sue!)

Start by separating the textile pieces according to their use—pillowcases, dresser scarves, hand towels, doilies, tablecloths and napkins— and then assess the condition of each individual piece. Take your time and be gentle. Remember that someone made each of these items. They have a history and had a life before they came into yours.

A sampler of linens from Hower House Museum

Some pieces may be in great shape, others not so much. In the era these vintage goodies were made, it was a common practice to store old linens ironed and starched within an inch of their life, using a homemade solution made from potatoes, rice or sugar water. Along the way, the items may have been stored in less than optimal conditions—damp basements, attics, cardboard boxes, in old suitcases or trunks. None of these situations bodes well for old textiles; the starch attracts insects and mice, resulting in damage.

Examples of rust stains on linens

At this point I should tell you that old textiles should be stored as you would your best clothing—in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme heat or cold.

If your linens are in good shape, great! If not, some mending and/or stain removal may be in order. Minor repairs—small holes, tears, fraying or loose edging—will need your attention before cleaning. If you are unsure how to repair antique or vintage fabrics, best to ask around; find someone to teach you. Be aware that hand sewing takes a bit of patience, but is a useful skill.

After this initial review of the pieces and mending if necessary, proceed with a gentle washing of your textiles. How do you determine what may be safely washed? We know that cotton, linen, and poly blend cottons may be safely washed by hand; never machine wash fragile, vintage, or antique fabrics. If they are light in color, do not wash with dark fabrics. Some of the old dyes that were used were unstable and may “bleed out” in the wash process. For example, if you have a dark blue blanket, you would not wash that with a light-colored dresser scarf. You see where I’m going with this, right? You could end up with a blue blanket and a light blue dresser scarf.

If you are not sure if the pieces should be washed, ask a professional. What do I recommend to use for your own personal collection? A mild soap called Orvus WA paste. A white, creamy paste that comes in a large container, it can be purchased from a museum supply store, but the more economical source, believe it or not, is your local farm supply store! Orvus WA is used as a horse shampoo, concentrated yet gentle. It only requires a small amount for a batch of linens, so share with a friend because a container will last you years, unless you have several horses to shampoo on a regular basis!

Mild Orvus WA Paste used for cleaning fragile linens and textiles
Supplies for hand-washing your linens. Clockwise from left: clean, absorbent towel for drying; nylon screen for protection of linens during washing; kitchen timer; Orvus WA paste; disposable gloves

Check out this reference guide for a more detailed list of basic supplies and detailed instructions on all phases of textile care.

My next post will deal with the “aftermath” of the washing process, such as how to safely press and store your newly-cleaned treasures. Truly not as boring as it sounds!

Online resources http://anacostia.si.edu/exhibits/online_academy/academy/preserve/preservemain.htm

https://www.ohiohistory.org/preserve/state-historic-preservation-office

Books

Hamby, D.S. The American Cotton Handbook. 3rd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1965.

McGehee, L. Creating Texture with Textiles. Iola, WI: Krause Publications. 1998.

Morton, W.E. and J.W.S. Hearle. Physical Properties of Textile Fibres. 4th ed. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Publishing Ltd. 2008

Pizzuto, J.J. Fabric Science. 11th ed. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. 2015.