Archive for June, 2014

-Contributed by Nicky Dunlap.

Although I usually leave the archives at the CHP with a little something extra (usually it’s dirt on my face, tape on my clothes, or packing peanuts stuck to my body), sometimes that little something extra is an experience. Today, I had the opportunity to travel back through time. Before Facebook, before Netflix, before wi-fi. I took a trip back to 1981 (before I was even born!). So, buckle up. I’m going to take you on a ride. Together, we’re going on a journey to the past!


It’s crazy to think of our world without the technology we have today. I was born in 1990, so I grew up around technology, and I’ve watched it evolve in so many ways. Sometimes it’s nice to get a little taste of what our world was like before technology. You imagine how exciting it must have been when the first computers were beginning to emerge. Little did we know that our whole world was about to change.

Today while I was doing my thing, processing artifacts, going through object after object, I came across a big box that was almost too heavy to lift. Inside was a blast from the past. A computer system so big that I couldn’t even wrap my arms around it. Not quite the same as the mini iPads and notebooks we have today.

It’s 1981. A new machine has just been invented. A computerized testing system that was used to perform psychological testing on subjects. Dr. Ann M. O’Roark, a prominent clinical psychologist, was deep into the process of opening testing centers for these machines to be used.


The machines were very large and heavy, and they look similar to a big computer monitor. They had letter and number keys, recall and next buttons, and “yes,” “no,” and “don’t know” keys. Participants would sit at these machines, answering questions displayed on the screen. These machines were used to practice decision making skills and for other psychological assessment purposes.

Dr. Ann M. O’Roark was determined to open several assessment centers where these machines would be installed. We can see from her correspondence with her partner, Del R. Poling, that she had many ideas for the development of these centers.


Along with correspondence with Poling and other miscellaneous notes, we were also provided with manuals and brochures for the Psychometer 3000 and a box of floppy discs full of data for the testing system.


Here is one letter from Dr. O’Roark to Poling that I find to be personal and charming, yet still expressing the importance of the project they were working on and setting it in motion:

“Del,                                                 October 18, 1981

Hope you are feeling better in at least a dozen ways.

I have updated a statement of our agreements. It was surprising how many things had changed. Sure would be great if we can get flying now – for your psychological perspectives and for my last quarter’s red balance.

If you will take the time, stay in touch and follow through, there is no reason this shouldn’t be a good show.


I don’t know about you, but I just find something about reading old letters so fascinating. It’s almost like you can picture Dr. O’Roark sitting down to write that letter to Poling. These kinds of things I find in the archives really add a whole new dimension to working at the CHP.

I hope you enjoyed our little trip to the past. Stay tuned for more interesting findings and adventures with me at the CHP!

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-Contributed by Nicole Dunlap.

Have you ever been given the task (or pleasure) of exploring your grandparents’ attic or storage unit? You sit down and go through boxes and boxes of items full of history and character. Some items dated back to long before you were born; touched by people you’ve never met. You try to imagine the items being used by your grandparents or even being used at all. Some of the items you’ve never seen before. What are these things? How was this used? What was this used for? A black and white movie plays in your head of what things were like back then. What would it be like to live in a world where these types of things were used daily? These are questions I ask myself regularly while interning at the Center for the History of Psychology. Except instead of my grandparents, it was psychologists, doctors, professors and intellectuals that were handling these items.


My name is Nicky, and while interning here at the CHP, I’ve learned a lot. Not only about the history of psychology, but also about the art and science of preserving, displaying and providing access to these items. Being a student of Library Science with a background in psychology, I am fascinated with the things I find in the archives at the CHP. My job is to sort through these items, collect information about them, photograph them, and share them with the public through our online collections here at the CHP. Like a kid exploring her grandparents’ attic, I relish in the smell of dust and the magic in the air as I dive into these boxes like they are portals to a past world; a world full of psychological apparatuses, measuring devices, and experimental equipment. Okay, so not all of the items I come across would be considered “magical,” but there are lots of really cool and interesting instruments with intriguing backstories. You can check out our online collection of these psychological artifacts here!


In future blog posts, I hope to give you a little taste of the archival adventure that is my internship, but here’s a little breakdown of my daily tasks. I am working on sorting through dozens of boxes full of psychological artifacts that need to be added to our online collection. My job is to find out what these items are, what they were used for, and where they came from. After recording this data, I photograph and edit the items in a consistent way to upload to our online collection. Finally, I create labels for the boxes, and place them back on shelves, making sure to record the new location.





It’s a lot of work: organizing, deciphering, photographing, editing, and labeling; but in reality, the CHP is similar to a big playground for me. I’m learning so much and having fun. What more could I ask for?

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~ contributed by CHP student assistant Adam Beckler.

Saturday, May 17th marked the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. This landmark Supreme Court case overturned the doctrine of “separate but equal” that was established by Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. The Supreme Court’s unanimous 9-0 decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Brown v. Board of Education was the central starting point for ending segregation in American schools and marked a major victory for the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Kenneth B. Clark

Kenneth B. Clark

The Supreme Court’s decision was influenced by the work of social psychologist Kenneth B. Clark. Clark and his wife Mamie studied the psychological effects of skin color on young black students.

From the Center for the History of Psychology’s exhibit on Psychology and Social Change:

“The Clarks examined the racial preferences of 253 African-American children from segregated nurseries and public schools. The children were presented with four dolls – two black and two white. They were asked which doll they would like to play with or which doll they liked best. More than 65 percent of children chose a white doll.”

“Testimony given by Kenneth Clark and other psychologists was used in Brown v. Board to argue against segregation in the schools…This was the first time that social science research was explicitly cited in a Supreme Court decision. “


Exhibit in CHP Psychology Museum

Exhibit in CHP Psychology Museum

Part of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. book collection, Racial Identity in Context: The Legacy of Kenneth B. Clark edited by Gina Philogène uses Clark’s work as a foundation to discuss the role of racial identity in the ongoing struggle for equality for African Americans. Racial Identity in Context examines topics including, but not limited to, racial integration today, the role of racial identity in managing daily racial hassles, resilience and self-esteem in African-Americans, and immigration.

Radical Identity in Context: The Legacy of Kenneth B. Clark

Radical Identity in Context: The Legacy of Kenneth B. Clark

The Brown v. board case was significant in the social history of the United States and it was also important in psychology’s history. As Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. and Ellen M. Crouse suggest in the book’s conclusion, the Brown v. Board of Education decision “marks the public validation of psychology as a science.”

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