-Contributed by Danielle Bernert
It’s no secret that CCHP is renowned for its extensive collection of manuscripts, media, and other materials from famous psychological research. Since the first collection of Harry and Leta Hollingworth papers was donated in September of 1966, the Center has always served as a repository for psychologists to bequeath their work so that others may learn from it. However, this year I was given the chance be a part of something completely different: starting a new collection. More specifically, I am helping to establish a collection about the CCHP itself. Since its inception on October 11, 1965, the Cummings’ Center for the History of Psychology has undergone incredible changes, one of which was the name of the organization itself (it was originally called the Archives of the History of American Psychology). With all of this rich history behind it, CCHP is more than worthy of its own archival collection, and this KSU graduate intern is incredibly excited to be a part of the whole process.
My work began only a few short weeks ago, and I have already felt like I have been here for much longer. This is one of the things I love about archives: you always underestimate the power that archival material can have on your sense of history. You couldn’t imagine how looking at the leftover materials of events can possibly make you feel as though you were there…until you’ve looked at 300 of them. I’ve skimmed so many of CCHP founder John Popplestone’s letters I feel like we are now on a first-name basis. And I have seen so many posters, publications, letters, receipts, and photographs that it’s like I’ve worked here for years. Will I be able to write a complete history of CCHP before my brief internship is over? Only time will tell.
Archival fascination aside, beginnings are always a process; full of guesses, adjustments, and moments of clarity. The most challenging question by far: does this item fit into the focus of the collection? Or better yet: what exactly is the focus of our collection? After a few short weeks, these and other questions are being answered. I now know that the focus is materials that capture the essence of CCHP and its history. Even so, these obstacles cannot always be predicted. Nor can they always be solved with an easy answer. Rather, they should be answered as process unfolds. And even then, the solution is never definite. I have since learned that it helps to have a firm idea of the materials to look for, but don’t be afraid to make exceptions. There will always be a few, and it’s what keeps archival work interesting. In the end, all you can hope is that you have made the best decision for the collection and that it will reflect the greatest aspects of CCHP. Over the course of the next two months of my internship, this will be my number one goal.