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Archive for the ‘Artifacts’ Category

-contributed by Veronica Bagley, undergraduate student in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program.

What do a polygraph kit, ouija board, and Stanford Prison experiment skateboard have in common? They’re all objects in the Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology artifact collection, and they’re all going to be on a temporary exhibit in Glimpses into the History of Psychology through Artifacts. These are just a few objects students in the Foundations of Museums and Archives class have been researching for their final project, putting together an exhibit.

Some of the objects that will be on exhibit.

Students in the Foundations of Museums and Archives Class have been spending this semester putting together an exhibit, from start to finish, to be displayed at the CCHP. In the first half of the class during Fall semester, each student selected a few items from the collection that they found interesting. Now during Spring semester, those objects are becoming one exhibit. Students picked objects covering multiple fields of psychology, including paranormal, perception, animal training, education, and popular psychology.

Though the objects in the exhibit are all very different, students have studied how they relate to psychology or how they may have been used by psychologists. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to learn about the history of psychology through a variety of fields. One of the objects I spent a large amount of time researching was a homemade “Spirit Writing Board,” for which we had little information on. I was able to use resources in the archives to research the practice of spirit writing, and through my research I learned about the field of “Parapsychology.” I even contacted an expert from The Parapsychological Association who sent me even more resources about this board and how it may have been used. Before I took this class, I did not even know this field of psychology existed! Visitors to the exhibit will be able to see the Spirit Writing Board on display, along with other objects from the field of Parapsychology. From visiting this exhibit, we hope visitors will be able to learn how broad the field of psychology is, and how it is applied in other fields.

Though the research process could be frustrating at times, especially with objects without much information attached to them, the class had some great finds! An object previously labeled as “Unidentified” became identified as a Polarimeter. Stacy Young, another student in the class, selected this object and had the task of researching it for the exhibit. From the tag on the object, she was able to start some research in the archives and found a journal that described the unidentified object. It was an incredible discovery and required some serious detective work! The Polarimeter will also be on display in the exhibit.

The label Stacy used to start her research on the Unidentified Object.

After spending the first eleven weeks of the semester researching objects and making decisions about exhibit design, the last several weeks will be spent installing the exhibit. The exhibit is also sponsored by the EX[L] Center: https://www.uakron.edu/exl/. We are very grateful for their donation to help us put together this exhibit!

The opening reception for Glimpses into the History of Psychology through Artifacts will be May 6, 2017 from 4-6 pm, and regular open hours will be Tuesdays May 9 through August 15, 2017, from 1-3pm. Admission is free. It will be located at:

Gallery C, First Floor Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

The University of Akron Roadway Building

73 S. College Street

Akron, OH 44325-4302

The final exhibit project for this class fulfills the requirements for students in 1900:302 Foundations in Museums and Archives II at the Institute for Human Science and Culture. The class is a requirement for a Museums and Archives Certificate through the University of Akron. If you are interested in the program, contact Dr. Jodi Kearns at jkearns@uakron.edu for information.

Objects for the exhibit, laid out for research.

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– contributed by guest blogger Dr. Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has a large collection of some of the most important apparatus and objects related to psychological science and practice covering the past 150 years.  There are brass chronoscopes from the 1800s that measured reaction time in one-thousandths of a second.  There are a variety of rat mazes, tachistoscopes, and Skinner boxes.  The “shock” machine used by Stanley Milgram in his famous obedience studies is in the Center’s collections as are a Bobo doll from Albert Bandura’s research, guard uniforms from Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford prison study, a surrogate monkey head from Harry Harlow’s studies of love in monkeys, and one of B. F. Skinner’s air cribs.  The Center is always looking to add to its collections, including items that were of questionable scientific value.  One such item is the Psycho-Phone pictured below.

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Similar in principle to audio devices today that play messages during a person’s sleep, for example, alleging sleep learning, the Psycho-Phone was the invention of Alois Benjamin Saliger (1880-1969) who patented his machine in 1932 as an “Automatic Time-Controlled Suggestion Machine.”  The device was essentially an Edison-style phonograph with a timer that played the contents from a wax cylinder during the period of sleep.  Saliger believed that the messages delivered during sleep would enter a person’s unconscious and have a powerful influence on the individual’s behavior.

 

The device was first advertised in the June 1927 issue of the popular psychology magazine, “Psychology: Health, Happiness, Success.”

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The machine was quite expensive, selling for $235 in 1929.  That would be the equivalent of $3,250 in 2017.  It came with several wax cylinders, each with messages relating to a different theme; one was labeled “Prosperity”, another “Life Extension,” and a third “Mating.”  Eventually Saliger expanded the record library to more than a dozen titles, even one in Spanish.  According to a story in The New Yorker in 1933, the message on the Mating recording included the following statements: “I desire a mate.  I radiate love.  I have a fascinating and attractive personality.  My conversation is interesting.  My company is delightful.  I have a strong sex appeal.”  Saliger was convinced of the effectiveness of the Psycho-Phone noting that 50 of his customers reported finding a mate.  He did not say how many of the Mating recordings had been sold.

Saliger ran monthly advertisements in the popular psychology magazines of the late 1920s touting the remarkable benefits of his Psycho-Phone.  Here is another of his ads.

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In looking for expert endorsers of his machine, Saliger might have chosen someone other than Dr. Quackenbos, whose name would not conjure up images of a charlatan.

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By 1933, Saliger claimed that he had sold more than 2,500 of the Psycho-Phones.  If such a number is even close to being accurate, a number of these devices should still exist today.  But despite our best efforts, we have not been able to find one to add to our collections at the Center.  If you have one of these or know of the location of a Psycho-Phone we would appreciate your contacting the Center at ahap@uakron.edu.  If you would like to donate one to the Center as a charitable gift, it would be most appreciated.

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Contributed by Charity Smith

In July 1961, in a basement in New Haven, Connecticut, newly-minted psychologist Stanley Milgram gave the prod for the first (faux) “shock” felt ‘round the world. Milgram, a first-year professor at Yale, set up shop in the University’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall—home to what would become one of the most famed experiments in the history of American psychology.

Like any good social psychologist, Milgram’s interest in the study of obedience was likely influenced by a healthy mix of both the person and the situation. For Milgram, that meant the combination of his academic heritage and events occurring on the world’s stage. Milgram was a student of pioneering personality psychologist, Gordon Allport, before assisting social psychologist Solomon Asch, in studying “group think” and conformity. From 1959-1960, Milgram watched subject after subject forego their own conclusions and conform to majority rule.

As Milgram’s time with Asch was ending, the 1960 trial of Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, was just beginning. His defense was the same heard at the Nuremberg trials, over a decade earlier: he was just following orders. For Milgram, the case of Eichmann added a layer of moral complexity not found in Asch’s study—one that begged the question: how far will we go to adhere to authority, even when it violates our moral code? Thus, at the intersection of Asch and Eichmann, Milgram’s Obedience to Authority study was born.

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In Obedience and Authority, Milgram (1974) wrote: “Could it be that Eichmann, and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” Ostensibly, this frames Milgram’s research questions as centering on the motivation that drove the Nazis to commit the horrific atrocities of WWII—questions that ask about what those people did, why they were driven to savagery. However, the crux of these questions has less to do with them and more to do with us. What Milgram (and the rest of the world) really wanted to know was: Are we really all that different?

As it turns out, we’re not. And, as for the original “how far?” question, the answer is: too far. Using a simulated shock generator—which participants believed would deliver actual current to an unseen person (also simulated) when they flipped the switch—Milgram added an important variable to the study of conformity: human suffering. Of participants, 100% were willing to obey authority, even when doing so meant causing physical harm; 65% were willing to continue to obey, knowing the consequences could be grave.

Milgram Simulated Shock Generator Smaller

Fifty-five years later, both psychology and the world-at-large remain fascinated with Stanley Milgram’s study of obedience. In fact, his simulated shock generator is likely our most photographed artifact. In 2009, Dr. Jerry Burger, social psychologist at Santa Clara University, posed essentially the same question as Milgram’s initial query: Are we any different? With findings in-line with those observed in 1961, Burger’s replication of Milgram’s work yielded a succinct answer which, hopefully, gives us all cause for pause: No. No we are not.

 

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-Contributed by Cori Iannaggi.

As a volunteer for the CCHP, I have had the opportunity to do a variety of different projects. When I first started in the summer of 2012, the first task assigned to me was to go through and identify the uncataloged objects within the collection. To me this was like being a kid in the candy store! I would open up the boxes and find all of these cool and unusual objects – some of them being objects I was familiar with, but most of them being objects I had no idea what they were. As undergraduate in psychology, I went into this project thinking I was going to be able to identify these objects with no problem, but it soon became apparent to me that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did (shocker?…not really).

As I began going through the collection, I found myself coming across a lot of the same items, like shock boxes, timers, lenses, and of course, tuning forks (it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t come across at least one a day)! While all of these regular finds were intriguing and valuable to the field of psychology, it was the days that I came across the abnormal and curious that were the best.

Lens kit #329b from Walter R. Miles and Catharine Cox Miles papers

Lens kit #329b
from Walter R. Miles and Catharine Cox Miles papers

Master shocker unit #419 Donated by Ryan Tweney / Bowling Green University

Master shocker unit #419
Donated by Ryan Tweney / Bowling Green University

Tuning Forks!

Tuning Forks!

Fast forward two years later, and I am now a graduate student in the Kent State University Library and Information Science program specializing in museum studies. Even though the collection project I did only lasted one summer, I regularly thought about how much fun I had working with the collection, and of all the wonderful objects I was in contact with on a daily basis. It then dawned on me that the fascinating and unusual objects I found would make a terrific exhibit. This would give me a chance to work with the collection again and allow the public the opportunity to see objects they normally wouldn’t have the chance of seeing (win-win in my eyes!).

Cori Iannaggi with her Cabinet of Wonder

Cori Iannaggi with her Cabinet of Wonder

Located in the CCHP’s reading room, Cabinet of Wonders highlights all of my favorite finds from the collection project back in 2012. The exhibit is broken in to two sections:

  • The Unusual – Highlighting the exciting, surprising, and simply put, cool objects, found in the collection.
  • The Unknown – A selection of objects I was unable to identify during my research.

The unknown section also gives visitors an opportunity to share their psychology knowledge with me by encouraging them to identify the unknown objects on exhibit. A notebook was placed outside the case and provides space for visitors to tell me anything they know about the objects I could not identify. Once the objects are identified, they will be removed and another object will be added. If you are unable to make it to the exhibit, we will also be posting pictures of the unknown objects on the CCHP Facebook and Twitter pages in the hopes of increasing the odds of identification.

In fact, why not start now?! Do you know what this object is and how it’s related to the field of psychology?

Unidentified Object #212

Unidentified Object #212

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-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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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“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.

Ann”

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.

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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!

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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.

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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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Emily Winters, an MLIS student at Kent State University, has been diligently working on creating the CHP’s first online exhibit. As a practicum student here at the CHP, she quickly became an expert on the exhibit’s focus–the IQ Zoo. Emily has now completed her practicum (and is nearing completion of her degree!) and we are happy to say that the exhibit will be launched this May.

-Contributed by Emily Winters.

For the past four months I have spent 150 hours creating “The IQ Zoo” an online exhibit for the Center of the History of Psychology (CHP).  During that time, I’ve learned more than I ever imagined about a company called Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) and the folks who worked there.  I’ve even used their techniques to train my cat Rocky to “sit up!”

Rocky_1Rocky_2

The exhibit that I have compiled goes through a brief history of the ABE, but its focus is really on the IQ Zoo.  The Brelands (and later the Baileys) trained thousands of animals between 1947 and 1990.  These included everything from cockroaches to whales.

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The IQ Zoo was a way for them to show the public the outcomes of their training methods, while bringing in an income.

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Each of the exhibits in the IQ Zoo could be shipped anywhere in the world.  There were IQ Zoo exhibits at the New York World’s Fair, in Japan, and in Mexico to name a few.  The animals were always treated with care and respect.  The Brelands insisted that if there was a problem, they must be contacted prior to anything being done to their animals.

While you may not have heard of the Brelands or the Baileys, or ABE for that matter, you are probably somewhat familiar with the technique of training dogs with clicker devices. 

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This was a training method that came directly from the Brelands and their company.  Keller Breland even wrote a dog training manual all about clicker training in 1963.

There are amazing papers, pictures, and artifacts that delve into great detail about ABE.  I feel like I have come to know some of the characters through my weeks of research and it is not without a twinge of sadness that I leave the CHP and the many unread stories of ABE.  However, this is where you can step in for me!  Go to the archives if you have a chance and browse the records online.  Read Marian’s very detailed memoir, written in a very thoughtful, detailed way that makes you feel like you are sitting with her listening to her stories.  Look at the inventions (and patents) of Grant Evans, Keller Breland and Bob Bailey.  Check out the large “Skinner boxes” that were the IQ Zoo exhibits.  I know you will find something amazing, just as I have.

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