-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?