–contributed by Nicole Merzweiler.
The start of summer has filled me with a mix of excitement for the break, and dread of my senior year, which begins in the fall. I was comforted though, when I found these two books, and I was reminded that even famous psychologists had to begin at “the bottom” as a student. I found my choices while I was finishing up on the digitization of the Professor Robert H. Wozniak Collection of Books on the History of Psychology. After the recent CCHP Board of Directors meeting, Professor Wozniak suggested that I add some of the interesting signatures and bookplates in the collection. During this process, I came across a bookplate that caught my eye from Kurt Koffka.
The bookplate was inside two unpublished carbon copy notes on lectures given by Carl Stumpf at the University of Berlin; the first Psychologie Winter Semester 1906/1907 and the second Logik & Erkenntnis Sommer Semester 1907.
The notes belonged to Kurt Koffka and were taken from a class in psychology and the second in logic and epistemology. Both sets of bound notes include not only his bookplate, but hand corrections made by Koffka. Among other things, he added page numbers to the table of contents.
Koffka went on to become one of the cofounders of Gestalt psychology along with Wolfgang Köhler and Max Wertheimer, who all studied at the University of Berlin. Koffka finished his PhD in 1909, completing his thesis under Stumpf’s guidance. Gestalt psychology,a school of thought focused on perception, emphasizes the idea that people see the whole of something independently of its individual parts. These ideas have changed the way perception is viewed, and it is very exciting to get to see the beginning of that through Koffka’s class notes.