– contributed by Arianna Iliff

With the seemingly endless list of paranormal reality TV shows, you’d think we’d proven the existence of the paranormal.So in the spirit (no pun intended) of Halloween, today we’ll be looking into the Duke Parapsychology Lab, a group of enterprising psychologists at Duke University in Durham, NC who attempted to do just that. In the 1930s, their research, led up by  J.B. Rhine, caused a firestorm of media hype. Rhine believed that his experiments had proven the existence of extrasensory perception, or ESP.

The basic experiment was simple: in a comfortable and informal environment, an experimenter would pull from a deck of cards with one of five shapes: circle, square, star, cross, and wavy lines. He would then ask his subject to name the shape on the card without looking, and track how many matches the subject would make in a “run” of cards–that is, within a deck of 25. The cards–named for Rhine’s graduate student, Karl Zener–eventually became available publicly, so that you could test yourself for psychic powers at home!


In 1937, when this pamphlet was published, ten cents was equivalent to $1.69 in today’s money. What a bargain!
Knight Dunlap papers, box M567, folder “ESP by Rhine”

According to Rhine, the frequency with which certain subjects could match the cards was higher than mere chance. Some of the original findings of the experiment were published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1938; however, his methods were notoriously specious, and not all psychologists were on board with this purported phenomenon. In the Knight Dunlap papers, housed here at the CCHP, there is a wealth of information about this period. Dunlap and some of his colleagues fact-checked Rhine’s flawed statistical and experimental methods, and appear to have attempted to ruin his credibility. In fact, we have a draft of one of Dunlap’s papers entitled “Occult Phenomena,” in which he bores a giant hole straight through Rhine:


“A friend of mine who has known Rhine long and intimately assures me that Rhine is honest, but not very smart.”   BURN, 1938-style! 
Knight Dunlap papers, box M569, folder “Occult Phenomenon”

Here’s a fun fact: one of the CCHP’s board members, Don Freedheim, attended Duke and had Karl Zener as a faculty advisor. Dr. Freedheim describes Zener as a “lovely person” who was “very supportive [and] generous with his time.” However, by this time, it wasn’t just Knight Dunlap that was critical of J.B. Rhine: according to Freedheim, by the mid-1950’s, the whole psychology department “had disavowed Rhine.” (Personal communication, 2016)

Rhine was not dissuaded easily. Over time, thousands of cycles of the card experiments were run, in varying forms with varying methods. And while the lab explored a variety of phenomena beyond just telepathy, eventually, decreasing interest and lack of funding caused the dissolution of the Duke Parapsychology Lab.

Nonetheless, Rhine insisted that one in forty people have the gift. Do you?

To read more about the Duke Parapsychology Lab, check out Unbelieveable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn–or visit us at the CCHP to see a set of Zener cards yourself!


Zener cards & ESP Record Sheet
CCHP Test Collection

Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

Every day researchers gather materials from the archives to tell all kinds of different stories. The stories don’t all make it into academic publications and in fact many are not destined for publication anyways – some research is just for funsies!

As the reference archivist here at the Cummings Center I get to hear these stories and some are so great I share them with the rest of the staff. This got us thinking that maybe all of you would like to hear some of these great stories, so we’re starting a new series to highlight the Stories from the Stacks.

Stories from the Stacks Vol. I: Searching for Molly. 

Michael F. Vogel, M.S.Ed. – CAGS is a self-employed financial trader and former mentee of psychologist Molly Harrower.

CCHP: What led you to us?

MFV: Trying to locate Molly Harrower’s  home/office in New York city.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

MFV: Molly’s street address on New York’s upper east side. I like to visit the sites where great psychology happened.

CCHP: What did you find?

MFV: I found it and discovered that Woody Allen is currently living there!

[Reference Archivist note: I located a piece of Molly Harrower’s letterhead, scanned it, and sent it to Michael as proof of her address.]


Molly Harrower papers, box M842, folder “Misc. 1”

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

MFV: Yes!  Woody Allen could have known Molly and possibly was her patient!

CCHP: Any let downs?

MFV: None.

CCHP: What’s next?

MFV: A return to Orgonon –  Wilhelm Reich’s  home/office/observatory in Rangeley Maine.  I have been there many times.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

MFV: Pilgrimages to the locations where the master practitioners of psychology  practiced keeps them alive within oneself.  I was once the Director of Psychology Services in the Pediatric rehabilitation hospital where Dr. Jonas Salk developed the Polio Vaccine.  Three (3) Months into this position I learned from the Hospital Administrator that my office was Dr. Salk’s Office !!!  I met him several times when he would return.  He lives within me (as does his original vaccine).   This is probably why I enjoy my pilgrimages.

[Reference Archivist note: CCHP houses the  Lee Salk papers – brother to Jonas Salk!]


Michael paying tribute to his mentor Molly Harrower and keeping her alive in his heart at 118 East 70th St.



Contributed by Cathy Faye.

I listen to the radio every week. In fact, I listen to it a lot. Mostly National Public Radio. On my weekly commute, I catch up with the world on Morning Edition. In the evenings while I get ready for the next day, I’ll take whatever program is on, but I’m particularly pleased if it is a Wednesday night, because…Radiolab!  On my weekend commute, it’s always Living on Earth and Car Talk.  It’s part of my routine. I love the radio.

As it turns out, most Americans seem to love the radio. Despite the rise of new forms of audio entertainment (think podcasts and Pandora), more than 260 million Americans still tune in to AM/FM radio every week. Why do we love the radio so much? How do radio messages affect us?

Psychologists have been asking these kinds of questions since radios began to make their way into our homes in the 1930s. In The Psychology of Radio (1935), Harvard psychologists Hadley Cantril and Gordon Allport set to work exploring the psychological experience of radio listening: what persuades us on the radio? How does a radio host’s voice or sex affect us? How long should a radio show be?

Psychology of Radio (1935), by Hadley Cantril and Gordon Allport. Table of contents.

Psychology of Radio (1935), by Hadley Cantril and Gordon Allport. Table of contents.

Radio, they argued, was a brand new psychological experience. It was different from “talking pictures,” where images were present, and it was a completely one-way social experience. There’s no need to conform to the feelings and actions of other audience members when you are at home listening to the radio. Incidentally, the authors note that broadcasters recognized this, and therefore began including “forced laughter” from a studio audience in an effort to encourage at-home-audience enthusiasm!

The Psychology of Radio shows that psychologists were interested in the effects of everyday listening in 1935. At this time, however, psychologists were not just studying radio; they were also becoming frequent guests on the radio. In the years leading up to World War II, psychological experts could be heard on the radio discussing all kinds of topics relevant to wartime, including fear and propaganda.

Social psychologist Gardner Murphy discusses fear on a WNYC radio program. From the Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers.

Social psychologist Gardner Murphy discusses fear on a WNYC radio program. From the Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers.

Radio talk on propaganda given by Paul T. Young in 1940. From the Paul T. Young papers.

Radio talk on propaganda given by Paul T. Young in 1940. From the Paul T. Young papers.


Psychologists also used the radio to give out advice on everything from understanding nervous children to curing a stutter.

Knight Dunlap explains nervous children in 1940. From the Knight Dunlap papers.

Knight Dunlap explains nervous children in 1940. From the Knight Dunlap papers.

Psychologists even became experts on radio itself, lending their expertise to studies of children’s programming. Child psychologist Martin Reymert edited scripts for the popular children’s radio program Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy. He developed standards for making the program educational and entertaining.

An article by Reymert describing his work on Jack Armstrong. From the Martin Reymert papers.

An article by Reymert describing his work on Jack Armstrong. From the Martin Reymert papers.

Indeed, in the 1930s and 1940s, psychologists were taking full advantage of radio, studying it and using it as an outlet for their work.

As I think about these early studies and uses of radio, I come back to a question posed by Cantril and Allport in Psychology of Radio: why do we like the radio so much?  They suggest that it is because we enjoy being part of a limited audience, where we can react in any way we choose:

The listener may respond in any way he pleases with no more constraint than that imposed upon him by the few people who may listening with him. He feels no compulsion to laugh at stale jokes, to applaud a bad actor, or to cheer…If he chooses, he can sing, dance, curse, or otherwise express emotions relevant or irrelevant (pp. 10-11)

I am inclined to agree. And I will remember this the next time I carelessly shake my head in complete disagreement during Morning Edition or laugh shamelessly and loudly at the really bad jokes on Car Talk.

Contributed by Jon Endres

In my job as the main media digitization person here at the Cummings Center, I have the opportunity to hear and see things that sometimes have not been seen or heard in decades or longer. This is one of my favorite aspects of the job – outside of being able to actively do a service for the study of history – and sometimes we find things that we did not know we had, or even existed.

My most recent project involved digitizing audio recordings from wire spools. On these spools,  Dr. David Pablo Boder recorded fascinating things, from interviews with people displaced by the 1951 Kansas City Flood to speeches and radio programs.

IMG_1120.JPGThe three boxes of spools in the AHAP collection

Boder’s most famous work was done in 1946 when he traveled across Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland and collected interviews with displaced persons–many of them Holocaust survivors–in the aftermath of World War II. Most of the recordings were uncovered in the late 1990s between the Library of Congress and the Illinois Institute of Technology, spurring much interest in Boder’s work.

Boder off trainFrom a 16mm film of Boder in Germany

There was one wire spool that was never found, being referenced in his work but not found in the various Boder collections. This spool was of Jewish songs from a displaced persons camp in Henonville, France.

As I went through the three boxes of spools that we have at the archives I began to take stock of what we knew we had on spools versus what we had no idea about. Among these “confused” wire spools was the one below.



The spool above had been erroneously entered into the finding aid as “Heroville Songs” when the collection was originally processed in the 1960s. It did not take me long to realize that the tin says “Henonville? Songs.” But this was no guarantee that this was the content on the spool. Even the tin itself seemed a bit unsure about its own content.

It took me a few days to get comfortable enough with the medium to put the Henonville Songs on to digitize – these are very fragile and I did not want to risk destroying history – but when I did I was blown away.

These are the missing songs Boder recorded from those survivors, recorded more than 60 years ago. The feeling of knowing what I had found and the understanding that I was  listening to something few before me had heard was a very different and personal thing for me. It felt like I was helping in some way to bring these voices to the present, voices that had become somewhat lost to the historical record.

The discovery of this single canister holding a lost recording means that  these songs can be heard again, they can be studied, and they can inform us in a new way about the experiences, the joys, and the frustrations of these displaced persons.

Below are several samples from the Henonville Songs spool. Please give them a listen, they’ve been waiting a long time.

Dr. Boder’s Introduction: Song Clip 1:Song Clip 2:Song Clip 3:

[Note: If you’re interested in hearing or using Boder’s work for research, please contact us at ahap@uakron.edu.]

Contributed by Charity Smith

In July 1961, in a basement in New Haven, Connecticut, newly-minted psychologist Stanley Milgram gave the prod for the first (faux) “shock” felt ‘round the world. Milgram, a first-year professor at Yale, set up shop in the University’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall—home to what would become one of the most famed experiments in the history of American psychology.

Like any good social psychologist, Milgram’s interest in the study of obedience was likely influenced by a healthy mix of both the person and the situation. For Milgram, that meant the combination of his academic heritage and events occurring on the world’s stage. Milgram was a student of pioneering personality psychologist, Gordon Allport, before assisting social psychologist Solomon Asch, in studying “group think” and conformity. From 1959-1960, Milgram watched subject after subject forego their own conclusions and conform to majority rule.

As Milgram’s time with Asch was ending, the 1960 trial of Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, was just beginning. His defense was the same heard at the Nuremberg trials, over a decade earlier: he was just following orders. For Milgram, the case of Eichmann added a layer of moral complexity not found in Asch’s study—one that begged the question: how far will we go to adhere to authority, even when it violates our moral code? Thus, at the intersection of Asch and Eichmann, Milgram’s Obedience to Authority study was born.

shock generator

In Obedience and Authority, Milgram (1974) wrote: “Could it be that Eichmann, and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” Ostensibly, this frames Milgram’s research questions as centering on the motivation that drove the Nazis to commit the horrific atrocities of WWII—questions that ask about what those people did, why they were driven to savagery. However, the crux of these questions has less to do with them and more to do with us. What Milgram (and the rest of the world) really wanted to know was: Are we really all that different?

As it turns out, we’re not. And, as for the original “how far?” question, the answer is: too far. Using a simulated shock generator—which participants believed would deliver actual current to an unseen person (also simulated) when they flipped the switch—Milgram added an important variable to the study of conformity: human suffering. Of participants, 100% were willing to obey authority, even when doing so meant causing physical harm; 65% were willing to continue to obey, knowing the consequences could be grave.

Milgram Simulated Shock Generator Smaller

Fifty-five years later, both psychology and the world-at-large remain fascinated with Stanley Milgram’s study of obedience. In fact, his simulated shock generator is likely our most photographed artifact. In 2009, Dr. Jerry Burger, social psychologist at Santa Clara University, posed essentially the same question as Milgram’s initial query: Are we any different? With findings in-line with those observed in 1961, Burger’s replication of Milgram’s work yielded a succinct answer which, hopefully, gives us all cause for pause: No. No we are not.


Contributed by Jodi Kearns. The third installment of the “Psychology of…” book item of the month blog series is a sound recording called “The Psychology of Modern Woman” (1970) http://collections.uakron.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15960coll18/id/3461


The Internet is abuzz with mansplaining, a word coined probably fewer than ten years ago for a phenomenon that emerged much earlier.

Mansplainer and moderator Bob Hale (a television and radio personality from Chicago), for example, moderates a panel of experts with the core mission of deciphering “what kind of person a woman is, or whether you are a person at all.”


The panel of experts is made up of four extraordinary women.

Here are some highlights from the recording.

The panelists discuss the identity crises facing women as they become bored with the tasks of domesticity, have so many modern conveniences to make household tasks easier, and have more time on their hands to think about it from not needing to make clothing. “Oh come on. Ladies wait! May a husband jump in here and say…? Who are you kidding? Come on. Really?” Oh boy. Moderator Bob continues in his raised voice above the panelists attempting to be heard and asks the rhetorical question, if women don’t like being in the kitchen, then “Who’s buying all the stoves?!”


Mansplainer Bob tells the panelists that women find gratification through marriage and domesticity. To prove his point he reminds them that “We have an instance here, however, where one of the members of the panel is not married.” Presumably, he means the Sister, so it is likely she who asks the question, “Am I the only unmarried member?” After a few audible I’m nots, it is revealed that the moderator is, in fact, the only married person present. After laughing this one off, he tells the panel that the source of their gratification is their careers.


In spite of all the progress in equality for women and a history of objectifying women and second-rate citizenry, the mansplainer reminds the panel that it is still, even in 1970, the man’s responsibility to find a mate, to initiate the romantic cycle.


I feel grateful to these women and their cohort for ensuring my not having to explain why I wanted to enter a man’s profession and don’t have to ask my husband permission to see a female doctor. It’s a darn good thing this moderator was there to explain the psychology of the modern woman to you experts.

I may just take their advice and start my day tomorrow with this little pep talk.


Have a listen to the full panel discussion for more context and the complete dialogue: https://youtu.be/FTdPz4RfVl0.





Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton. This is the second installment of the “Psychology of…” book of the month blog series.

Two years ago I was 38 weeks pregnant and looking for a little parenting advice so I turned to the CCHP Book Collection for help. Fast forward to 2016 and I have a two-year old and a 7-month old and once again I’m desperate for help. I could really, really use some sleep.

The Psychology of Sleep  by Bolton Hall was originally published in 1911 as The Gift of Sleep. The CCHP houses the second edition, published in 1916, exactly 100 years ago. That seemed fitting since it seems like it’s been 100 years since I’ve had a good night’s sleep. But I digress….


Bolton Hall – this guy looks like he sleeps well, no?

Before I even cracked the book I just knew I was going to see that darn, “sleeping like a baby” hooey. Yep, page 1, there it is, “…the best sleepers…sleep like a child.” Every time I see something like that I think to myself, “Whose child?!” Certainly not mine!

I skimmed through The Psychology of Sleep looking for tips but didn’t find much regarding getting a child to sleep. Though, Chapter XV titled “Opiates” did seem promising.

Since I wasn’t finding anything that really excited me I decided to Google Bolton Hall and see what he was all about. Wow! Now, I was excited!

Bolton Hall (1854-1938) is probably my new favorite person.

Hall was born in Ireland in 1854 and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1868. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he graduated from Princeton in 1875. In 1881 he earned his law degree from the Columbia Law School. He was a founder of the American Longshoremen’s Union (now the ILA) and the New York Tax Reform Association.  He was arrested for distributing birth control information in Union Square in 1916. And best of all, he was the originator of the back-to-the-land movement at the turn of the century.

Bolton Hall was a champion for the poor and the working class and an advocate for returning the land to the people. He established the Vacant Lot Gardening Association in New York City in 1906 that later morphed into The Little Land League which had over 200 members by 1909.  These organizations helped provide farming education and housing for New Yorkers, including several families who lived on 30 acres of land in the Bronx owned by the Astor family. They also helped construct a year-round tent city that housed a half a dozen families in Bronxville.

Wild side note – the president of The Little Land League in 1909 (Hall was treasurer) was  P. Tecumseh Sherman, son of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Hall established Free Acres, a co-operative/mini-municipality/kinda-sorta Utopian community in 1910 in Berkeley Heights, NJ through the donation of roughly 70 acres of land. And people still live there today! Check out the Flickr site – it’s awesome.

Whew! When I signed up to write a blog about The Psychology of Sleep I did not think I’d end up here. Dear reader, you just witnessed someone tumbling down the researcher rabbit hole!

And the Bolton Hall rabbit hole led me to his book Three Acres and Liberty. 

By thought and courage, we can help ourselves to own a home, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, flowers and poultry….life belongs in the garden (Hall, 1918, p.1 & p.10).

Right on, Bolton. That helps me sleep at night.


Lizette – and the two kids who keep her up all night – tending their turkeys, October 2015