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Archive for September, 2013

Dr. John A. Popplestone, founder and original director of the Archives of the History of American Psychology passed away in Akron, Ohio on September 15, 2013.

Photograph taken by Rick Zaidan (1991)  for 'Akron Magazine'

Photograph taken by Rick Zaidan (1991) for ‘Akron Magazine’

Dr. Popplestone earned his doctoral degree in psychology from Washington University in 1958 and was a faculty member in the psychology department at The University of Akron from 1961 to 1999.

He and his wife, the late Dr. Marion White McPherson, established the Archives of the History of American Psychology in 1965 with support from The University of Akron.

He directed the Archives until his retirement in 1999.

Photo taken in 1992 upon receiving a plaque in Recognition of Exceptional Contributions to Research in History from the American Psychological Association

John A. Popplestone and Marion White McPherson with a plaque in Recognition of Exceptional Contributions to Research in History from the American Psychological Association (undated)

We in the history community owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Popplestone and Dr. McPherson. The Center has come a long way since John and Marion began collecting and storing psychology’s history in a small room in the university library. The Center has grown in ways that our early founders could not have anticipated and we are grateful for their early  foresight and perseverance.

John Popplestone, W. Horsley Gantt, and Bernard Weiss at the annual APA Meeting (1969)

John A. Popplestone, W. Horsley Gantt, and Bernard Weiss at the annual APA Meeting (1969)

Dr. Popplestone and and AHAP student assistant examine a tropostereoscope (undated)

John A. Popplestone and an AHAP student assistant examine a tropostereoscope (undated)

Marion White McPherson and John A. Popplestone in the AHAP Stacks (1992) Photograph by Rick Zaidan

Marion White McPherson and John A. Popplestone in the AHAP Stacks (1992)
Photograph by Rick Zaidan

Marion White McPherson, John A. Popplestone, Sharon Ochsenhirt, and Dorothy Gruich at the annual APA Meeting in ____

Marion White McPherson, John A. Popplestone, Sharon Ochsenhirt, and Dorothy Gruich at the annual APA Meeting in 1992

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contributed by Emily Gainer.

Reflecting on his career, Sigmund Koch wrote this: “psychology is populated by a vast hypersufficiency of heroes but as yet not a single anti-hero…It is important that someone step in to fill the anti-heroic void in psychology.  I herewith submit my credentials” (Vagrant Confessions of an Asystematic Psychologist: An Intellectual Autobiography, 1977, page 2, Box M5042, Folder 1).  In his unique style of wit and reflection, Koch outlined his views of psychological theories and how they differed from the mainstream views of mid-century.  Researchers can explore these “credentials” and many other primary sources in the Sigmund Koch papers, which were recently processed and now open for research.

Sigmund Koch, 1993 (Box M5124)

Sigmund Koch, 1993 (Box M5124)

This noteworthy collection, consisting of 105 boxes (34.31 linear feet) of archival material, documents nearly 60 years of Koch’s professional career.  Sigmund Koch (1917-1996) was a professor of psychology at Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Boston University.  He was also director of the Ford Foundation’s Program in the Humanities and the Arts for three years.

Sigmund Koch, circa 1950s (Box M5124)

Sigmund Koch, circa 1950s (Box M5124)

In 1952, he was asked by the American Psychological Association to direct and edit an analysis of psychology at mid-century.  A significant amount of material relates to Koch’s editor files for this six-volume set, Psychology: A Study of a Science (1959-1963).  As Koch describes, this study “brought me into contact with most of the influential psychological theorists of our times” (Vagrant Confessions, page 3, Box M5042, Folder 1).  Files related to this important publication include planning, correspondence with contributors and those who declined to contribute, drafts, and Koch’s Volume 7 files – a volume that he never completed.

In addition to the archival papers, the CHP houses the six-volume set, Psychology: A Study of a Science, 1959-1963.

In addition to the archival papers, the CHP houses the six-volume set, Psychology: A Study of a Science, 1959-1963.

Turning from the mainstream psychological theories of the mid-twentieth century, Koch argued a more humanistic approach to psychology, countering the trends of behaviorism. Later in his career, he researched psychology as related to the humanities, specifically artists and creativity.

The collection contains correspondence with some of the most influential psychologists during mid-century.  The papers also document Koch’s professional positions as a teacher and administrator, his involvement in APA, his research files containing handwritten notes, his publications, and his speaking engagements. Search the finding aid for more information.

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Contributed by Leah Schmidt.

During Summer 2013, Leah worked at the CHP for her culminating experience to earn her MLIS from Kent State University School of Library and Information Science. She graduates in Fall 2013.

I spent time with the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection, during the summer of 2013, as a Kent State MLIS student completing a Culminating Experience Project. Admittedly, the idea of unpacking, sorting, inventorying, indexing, and re-housing 1,367 magazines was initially a little intimidating. However, once I started to unpack and sort the psychology magazines, I began to really appreciate and enjoy the experience.

Popular Psychology magazine organization and rehousing

Popular Psychology magazine organization and rehousing

After about 100 hours, I finished rehousing the collection, according to archival standards, and the finding aid and collection are now available for use by patrons of the Center for the History of Psychology.

Popular Psychology magazines processed and rehoused

Popular Psychology magazines processed and rehoused

I was and remain amazed at the extensiveness of Dr. Benjamin’s collection. The magazines date from the late nineteenth century through the twenty-first century, and the range of titles is astounding. I was also surprised at who I found among the contributing authors, such as Sherwood Anderson, James S. Coleman, and Jonathan Kozol.

My favorite find, in the collection, is a series of four comic books from 1955, Psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis, 1955

Psychoanalysis, 1955

The artwork on the covers of many of the magazines is fascinating. To me, the cover art is not only beautiful, but it is also a reflection of the social, cultural, and economic climate of the period.  As I went through the magazines, I thought that a study of the collection’s cover art would make an outstanding research project.

Why, 1954 Psychology Today, 1978 Personality, 1928 Character Reading, 1936

Why, 1954
Psychology Today, 1978
Personality, 1928
Character Reading, 1936

While working with the collection, I came up with an idea for an assignment for a course I teach for Kent State, Education in a Democratic Society. The complete assignment will be available as part of the online exhibit that I am developing for the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection. My students have already begun to work with articles they selected from a shortlist I provided from this collection, and the feedback has been positive.

Finally, Shelley Blundell, a Kent State Doctoral Student from the College of Communication and Information, approached me about co-presenting at the October 2013 ALAO conference. We met and discussed our ideas, and Shelley put together an outstanding proposal. The proposal was accepted and we will soon be presenting our ideas about archival literacy in the round table discussion “Using Collaborative Strategies to Meet Common Core Primary Resource Requirements.”

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-Contributed by Cathy Faye.

The CHP received a couple pretty great gems today from historian of psychology, Benjamin Harris. The first is a comic about John Watson’s Little Albert study.

Albert front coverThe author describes innate and learned fear responses and gives an illustrated interpretation of Watson’s study.

Little Albert inner pageThe second item is a graphic novella, written in Italian and titled Six Degrees of Separation. The novella opens with a description of Milgram’s small world studies.

Six Degrees of Separation cover

Both were created by comic artist, Dr. Matteo Farinella. Farinella, who has a PhD in neuroscience, combines comics with science, resulting in a rather novel form of science communication. Farinella also recently teamed up with neuroscientist Hana Ros to create Neurocomic, a graphic novel that, according to the authors “takes the reader on an exciting and visually captivating adventure through the brain, populated by quirky creatures and famous neuroscientists.”

These two items will be added to the CHP Special Interest collection. You can view the Little Albert comic and the first four pages of the graphic novella (in English) online at Farinella’s blog.

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– contributed by Jodi Kearns.

Book of the Month is starting a new feature: Staff Picks!  Each month, a CHP staff member will select a book from the collection.  This month’s selection is by Dr. Jodi Kearns, Digital Projects Manager.

BOOK: An Atlas of Infant Behavior: A Systematic Delineation of the Forms of Early Growth of Human Behavior Patterns by Arnold Gesell, (1934) 2 volumes.

The CHP houses an estimated 13,000 reels of film; roughly one third of these are part of the Child Development Film Archives.

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Among the CDFA films are reels of raw footage from Arnold Gesell’s research from as early as the 1910s when he was filming infants and children performing tasks that hadn’t previously been captured as moving images. Tasks filmed represent stages of development, such as an infant rolling from front to back, using a spoon to feed himself, playing with blocks, or kicking his legs in bath.

By no small stretch of the imagination, one can figure that multiple copies of reels of 35mm film and projectors to play them on were not immediately available for use by those studying child development and infant behavior in 1930s America. The Atlas of Infant Behavior was created to bring observable, sequenced movements to studies in child development.

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In the Atlas prefatory summary, Gesell describes the statistical processes by which he and his team objectively selected still frames from the hours of moving images to use as representative of the complete sequence of infant movements.

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The research team’s final selections provided students of child development with “patterned organization of the movements” so that students need not have access to the actual films in order to observe “developmental sequences of infant behaviors.”

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Today, we would call Gesell’s statistical and objective cinema analysis keyframe analyses, which have been accomplished by computers for several decades for the purposes of using structural compositions of the film’s data stream itself in order to determine keyframes that could be used to represent whole films in information retrieval systems.

This two-volume atlas of child development is my pick for CHP’s Book of the Month because it offers a brilliant example of 100-year-old methods of film analysis and generous information overlap between the history of psychology and my own field, Information Science.

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