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Archive for the ‘Stories from the Stacks’ Category

 contributed by Tony Pankuch.

Browsing the contents of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection, one is likely to come across some eyebrow raising titles and headlines from throughout the 20th century. The contents of the collection range from field standard publications like Psychology Today to the long-running Fate magazine, which featured parapsychological phenomena and headlines like “The Severed Head Spoke“. Yet as a queer person interested in the history of psychology and the LGBTQ+ community, the collection provides a fascinating opportunity to explore how LGBTQ+ individuals understood and sought to express their identities in relation to dominant psychological ideologies.

Article headline titled "A Lesbian Speaks Her Mind: An inside account of the feminine side of the female homosexual." Black and white photograph shows a woman placing a hand on another woman's shoulder.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 33, No. 3, October 1966, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

If you’re familiar with the broad strokes of psychology’s historical relationship to the LGBTQ+ community, you likely know that prior to the 1970s there was little opportunity for the open expression of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities within the mental health fields. As explored by works like Henry L. Minton’s Departing From Deviance and the CCHP’s online exhibit A Clockwork Lavender, LGBTQ+ identities were viewed as disorders to be cured rather than legitimate expressions of human diversity.

Yet in popular sexology magazines, articles featuring the firsthand testimony and perspectives of LGBTQ+ individuals were not altogether uncommon prior to the 1970s. In an era when criminalization, medicalization, and inhumane treatment of LGBTQ+ identity was common in the U.S. and abroad, individuals were able to use the space in magazines to advocate (often anonymously) for their own humanity. An early example of this sort of article appeared in the September, 1934 issue of Sex: Sane Sex Standards:

Article excerpt titled “An Interview with An Invert” by Kemit Riedner. Excerpt text included below.
Sex: Sane Sex Standards, Vol. 4, No. 3, September 1934, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

After hearing my case, can you safely say that I have committed any crime by acting in a way that to me is normal? If God created us any different from other people. He must have had a purpose in my view, and I think that the inverts of the world will join me in asking that we be given a chance to live as He sees fit to create us. We do not appreciate the efforts His usurpers have spent in improvising on His handiwork.

In this article, author Kemit Riedner interviewed an “intelligent, educated man” who identified himself as an “invert” (a common sexological term for homosexuality at that time). In the excerpt above, the anonymous man challenges the idea that homosexuality is abnormal or worthy of criminal status. The last portion of this excerpt, in particular, seems targeted at those who sought to “cure” LGBTQ+ identities through conversation therapies.

By the 1960s, articles of this nature had begun to appear regularly in Sexology magazine, which was founded in 1933 and paired sensational headlines and occasionally scandalous imagery with educational articles on a wide variety of topics. Take for instance this 1967 article from the pseudonymous “Rod Chase”:

Article excerpt titled "Inner Thoughts of a Homosexual: Autobiographical notes of a young man's experiences with the "straight" world" by Rod Chase. Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 33, No. 11, June 1967, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

I see sad homosexuals in gay bars and the only thing comparable is sad heterosexuals in normal bars. I see many unhappy heterosexuals, many unhappy marriages. Look at the divorce rate! Look at the wretched destructive marriages! But from this I do not conclude that heterosexuality is an illness.

On the other hand, in spite of prejudice, there are many homosexuals who are free human beings and who have capacity for love. They are creative and not sorry for themselves. They are never considered when doctors write about homosexuality.

Sexology provided LGBTQ+ contributors and interview subjects an opportunity to speak out emphatically to an audience that was, by nature of the magazine’s existence, likely to be sympathetic or at least open to the diversity of human sexual experiences. In this way, it followed in the footsteps of early sexology researchers like Havelock Ellis and Richard von Krafft-Ebing. As explained by Henry L. Minton in Departing From Deviance, “for many homosexual research participants, the research process became a proactive vehicle for changing public opinion and constructing more empathic and realistic understandings of homosexuality.” Though this research may have still contributed to pathological understandings of queer identity, research participants were able to exercise agency through their participation and testimony.

Article excerpt titled "Why I became a Lesbian" by "E. N." Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 31, No. 8, March 1965, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

What went ‘wrong’ with me? From my point of view, nothing. When I was 19 and a college student, I met a girl nearly my own age with whom I developed an intense friendship. We were happy only when we were together and miserable when we were apart. As soon as we were able to earn our own livings we went to live together and enjoyed our first serious physical contacts. We have loved one another ever since.

It wasn’t just gay and lesbian writers who wrote to Sexology. Transgender contributors were featured, as in the August 1960 issue:

Article excerpt titled "'Sex Change' Operation: The difficult and costly ordeal of surgery is not an 'open sesame' to happiness for the 'female in a male body.'" by Lana. Photo depicts a transgender woman seated in a long flowing dress. Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 27, No. 1, August 1960, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

Many of us, who feel that we are ‘females in a male body,’ are willing to pay whatever price is necessary. For many like myself, the surgery offers an opportunity to emerge from a world of shadow in which there is no possibility of happiness.

Although we cannot bear children, we are as much female as any man could wish, physically and emotionally. Doctors declare us to be women, and the law allows us to become so legally.

Let us hope that, in time, an understanding public will also sympathetically accept us as such.

Despite the ominous introduction—”surgery is not an ‘open sesame’ to happiness”—the article focused on physical recuperation and societal prejudice rather than any sort of psychological distress associated with trans identity, and Lana described herself as having “absolutely no regrets” for pursuing life as a transgender woman. This open and positive tone toward transgender identity makes sense for Sexology; for decades the magazine’s Board of Medical and Sexological Consultants included Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pioneer in gender-affirming surgery for transgender people, who wrote the introduction to Christine Jorgensen’s autobiography.

I’ll leave you with one more article, contributed by Lorynca Rome, from November, 1950:

Article excerpt titled "I'm Glad I'm a Homosexual!" Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 17, No. 4, November 1950, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

I do not feel as if my mind were ‘sick or diseased.’ I do not feel repressed or frustrated nor emotionally starved, nor that I am any of the terrible things that homosexuals are supposed to be. And yet, things have not always been as perfect in my life as I have longed them to be—perhaps they never will be. But I have no regrets, for I have had some of the happiest of moments—days—years. And I am glad that I was born a homosexual!

Through these articles, LGBTQ+ contributors challenged the dominant narrative that queer life was abnormal and unfulfilling. They expressed themselves as individuals comfortable in their identities and without shame. They were, in a very literal sense, celebrating Pride.

Browse the finding aid to the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection.

Explore more materials on the history of LGBTQ+ psychology from the Cummings Center.


References

Jorgensen, C. (1967). Christine Jorgensen: personal autobiography. P. S. Eriksson.

Minton, H. L. (2010). Departing from deviance. University of Chicago Press.

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contributed by Lizette Royer Barton. For a screen reader compatible pdf of this post and documents contained within, click here.

I asked my colleagues who their favorite women were in our collections. Here are a few of the responses.

Processing Archivist Emily Gainer replied with Erika Fromm. Emily processed the Fromm papers a few years ago and you can review the finding aid for the 115-box collection here: Erika Fromm finding aid. Emily told me, “At one point, she [Erika Fromm] had a student harassing/stalking her.  Campus admin told her if he called, not to answer.  She said she would answer, because that’s what she does – help people.”

Erika Fromm (1909-2003) earned her PhD in experimental psychology in 1933 from the University of Frankfurt while studying with Max Wertheimer (Emily processed those papers too); worked as a research associate in clinical psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Wilhelmina Gasthuis (University Clinics), Amsterdam; established the first psychology laboratory in a Dutch state hospital; fled the damn Nazi’s; and eventually emigrated to Chicago, IL where she established a private psychotherapy practice and became a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Being a foremost expert on hypnosis and hypnoanalysis, Erika Fromm was approached by psychologists in Germany requesting permission to translate some of her work to German. The Erika Fromm papers contain several folders of correspondence with the journal editors and correspondence she received from readers (both positive and negative) regarding her decision not to allow the translation. Instead, she wrote a paper titled, Personal Feelings of a Nazi Refugee: Why I do not Want to be Honored by Germans, which was published in the German journal Hypnose Und Kognition instead of her translated work on hypnoanalysis. Fromm considered the translation of her work an honor, but was deeply conflicted about receiving such an honor from a German journal. Her paper is hard to read and harder still to fathom what she survived. And while we all hold our own feelings about forgiveness, perhaps sometimes, we have to simply respect when a person just can’t do it.

Erika Fromm papers, box M5199, folder 10

Dr. Cathy Faye, Director of the CCHP, couldn’t give me just one name.

“I’ve always liked Ruth Cruikshank Bussey. Mostly because I liked the photos of her in the collection. I think there were a couple good ones of her from her time in the WAVES and personal journals and scrapbooks. I just remember browsing those and liking her a lot. I’d love to know more about Jewish psychologist Sylvia Scribner….early on, she was quite a union activist, I think. Not sure if the collection reflects any of that.”

Ruth Cruikshank Bussey (1911-2007) earned her BA at Elmira College and went on to earn her MA and PhD from Brown University. During the Second World War she served in the Air Service Command (ASC) and later enlisted with the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), a division of the Navy. She continued her work in psychological testing at the Psychological Corporation. And Cathy was right, the scrapbooks and journals in this collection are incredible. Bussey has letters, report cards, clippings, announcements, and more glued and taped to the pages alongside her handwritten words in scrapbooks and journals from her time in high school well into old age. There are hundreds of treasures but this assignment from her Elmira College course, “Life Work Choice” is among my favorites. The assignment was for students to list their first three choices for work to which Ruth Cruikshank answered, “My work must be with science…I know of its hardships for I have a family none too eager to see me as a woman doctor, stepping in a career belonging only to men.”

Ruth Cruikshank Bussey, box M4963, folder 6

Sylvia Scribner (1923-1991) was the valedictorian of her class at Smith College in 1943 and went to work as the research director for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. She later returned to school, earning her MA from the City University of New York (CUNY) and a PhD from the New School of Social Research in 1970. She was on the faculty at CUNY, worked as a senior research associate at Rockefeller University, the associate director of the National Institute of Education, and as a senior scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics. She focused on cultural literacy and learning, worker’s rights, women’s issues in society and the workplace, minority concerns, and labor practices and the more I learned about her, the cooler she became.

Scribner took up a research project at a dairy processing plant to study learning and knowledge through recall between different groups at the dairy – customers, office workers, warehouse workers, and delivery drivers. The collection has detailed interview notes and materials from the study. In her published work from the study, Scribner writes that the observations at the dairy were useful in that they, “…stimulate new ways of thinking about knowledge and practice that avoid the old entrenched dualisms” and “social knowledge is differentiated from, but not opposed to, individual knowledge.” Scribner conducted similar recall research studies in Liberia and concluded, “…recall output tends to reflect the organizational structure subjects impose on material” and regardless of culture, age, or geography these processes seemed to be universal.

Notation on back: 1/15/1977. Sinkor. Hamidu Getaweh and Sylvia
Sylvia Scribner papers, box V81, folder 8

In describing Scribner’s research to Dr. Faye she said to me, “It’s the human and social element. Each place has its own society and its own forms of social knowledge that work for that place and those people.”

Dr. Jodi Kearns, Director of the Institute for Human Science & Culture told me Molly Harrower was her favorite because, “she seems badass.” Also, when asked by T. Kraweic in his oral history series about her philosophy of life, Dr. Kearns told me that Harrower gives the “Best. Answer. Ever.”

Molly Harrower (1906-1999) took some psychology classes while at Beford College, University of London with Beatrice Edgell but never earned a psychology degree. She worked with Charles K. Ogden and with a helpful letter from him, Harrower arrived at Smith College on a fellowship to work with Kurt Koffka. She earned her PhD in 1934 and went on to work with Wilder Penfield at the Montreal Neurological Institute, established a private practice and did work in psycodiagnostics and psychotherapy, consulted in the military, served as Research Director of the Children’s Court of Manhattan, wrote poetry, and eventually joined the faculty at the University of Florida, teaching clinical psychology until her retirement.

The Molly Harrower papers include numerous still images and I asked Dr. Kearns to pick a couple of her favorites.

Molly Harrower papers, box V53

And Dr. Kearns was right. When T. Kraweic asked at the end of an hour long oral history interview her philosophy of life, she laughed and gave the best answer ever. “I practically have no prohibitions….If it isn’t fun, what is it? There are millions of things you can do and doing one you don’t like doesn’t help anybody….If you can harness all your energy and all your enjoyment and all your creativity into some form of action that’s what you should take. And that’s what I try to do.”

Hearing Molly say these words is mostly certainly better than reading them.

So listen here:

Theophile S. Krawiec collection, box A13, tape 40

There are numerous inspiring and important women in the collections here at the Cummings Center. Women who changed the course of the history of the field. But when it comes down to brass tacks, “numerous” isn’t actually very accurate. Of the 466 processed manuscript collections we house, just 81 of them are the personal papers of women. So, who is my favorite woman in the collection? I’m not sure and maybe her papers aren’t here yet.

To twist Molly’s words a bit, “If history isn’t inclusive, what is it?”

Happy Women’s History Month.

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– contributed by Chelsea Chamberlin, Doctoral Candidate, University of Pennsylvania.

CCHP: Dates of on-site research visit at CCHP:

CC: June 25, 2018 – July 13, 2018

CCHP: What led you to the CCHP?

CC: Having completed my comprehensive exams in the spring, the CCHP was my first big research trip for my dissertation. I first learned about the archives in Akron from the citations in Paul McReynolds’s biography of Lightner Witmer while writing a research paper in my first year. A quick search of their catalog revealed they had the papers of so many people I knew would appear in my dissertation! Little did I know that McReynolds would provide even more exciting information in the archive itself.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

CC: The CCHP has the personal collections of a number of psychologists who are important figures in my dissertation, among them Henry Herbert Goddard, J.E. Wallace Wallin, and Leta Stetter Hollingworth. Although I had read some of these psychologists’ published works, I was hoping that their collections would hold more insight into their day-to-day lives, and especially how their professional and personal lives intersected with each other.

CCHP: What did you find?

CC: These collections did not disappoint. I gained a much better understanding of each of these psychologists’ ideologies, personalities, and personal and professional networks.

The person I feel I got to know best was J.E. Wallace Wallin. Very little has been written about Wallin; his reputation as an educational psychologist celebrates the sheer number of diagnostic clinics and “special school” systems that he established throughout the US. His correspondence, though, indicates that this accomplishment was no intentional plan of Wallin’s, but rather a consequence of his quite cantankerous personality. He was rarely happy where he was, and the people around him were rarely happy either. And so, he shuffled about the country from position to position, looking for administrators who wouldn’t infuriate him and the reputation he felt he deserved. This isolation and discontent, I suspect, helped him speak out against the spread of and reliance on intelligence testing, despite the fact that testing’s founder and advocate, H.H. Goddard, was one of his mentors. Indeed, Goddard and Wallin corresponded regularly, though often with frustration as Wallin complained and Goddard told him to sit tight and suck it up. Perhaps my favorite find was a line in a letter when Goddard finally lost his temper, writing: “The fact is, Wallin, there are several points of resemblance between you and a jack-ass.” Quite a surprise coming from the otherwise mild-mannered Quaker!

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

CC: This question brings me back to Paul McReynolds, whose papers are also held at the CCHP. These papers are mostly the physical manifestations of his research method for the Witmer biography. They not only provided an enlightening (for me) look at how one did research before the internet age, they also revealed a separate collection that had not been accessed in over a decade, and which had not shown up in my catalog searches. Lightner Witmer founded the nation’s first Psychological Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896, and in his research McReynolds had accessed the records of that clinic. The records had been placed on microfilm and sent to the CCHP, and the originals at Penn destroyed. A letter between McReynolds and John Popplestone, the founder and then-director of the archives, mentioned this microfilm. I showed the letter to Lizette Barton, who set upon a search and found the microfilm! These case records can shed light on some of the central questions of my project: What motivated parents to bring a child to a clinic? How did they narrate their child’s perceived disability? What factors shaped the diagnoses and treatment recommendations given, and how did parents implement or ignore those recommendations?

CCHP: Any let downs? 

CC: The microfilm raised new and important ethical questions. These clinic records contain the lives of real people, and because visitors were often young children, some of them may still be alive. Archivists are stewards of not only paper records, but the lives and dignity of the people contained within them. Historians, too, are responsible for honoring the lives and personhood of our subjects, and this means respecting their privacy as much as we can. For me, this duty is magnified by the nature of how my subjects entered the historical record: as often involuntary patients, as children, many of whom were institutionalized. The let down, then, was discovering that the records exist, and then deciding with the archivists that these ethical considerations meant I could not look at them–yet.

CCHP: What’s next?

CC: Because the names of these patients must be protected, the CCHP is working to find out how the records can be duplicated and redacted. This way, these valuable sources can be accessed, not only by me, but by other researchers as well, while keeping identifiable information out of the public record.

CCHP: Have any final thoughts?

CC: I want to thank the CCHP, especially Lizette Barton and Arianna Iliff. Three weeks is a long time to spend in one archive, and they pulled an absurd number of boxes without complaint. Lizette shouldered the task of finding the microfilm, unearthing it’s provenance (where it came from), and determining how to balance privacy with access. All the staff at the CCHP were welcoming and helpful–even loaning me a bike so I could explore Akron and commute to the archive each day! And they did all of this immediately after hosting a conference, a daunting and exhausting tasks. Thank you!

ChelseaChamberlin2018_WM

Chelsea working in the reading room during her visit – summer 2018

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Contributed by Stacy Young, University of Akron student/CCHP Student Assistant.

CCHP: What led you to us?

SY: I previously attended the Museums and Archives class that is offered by the University of Akron and the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

SY: We were assigned to go through contentDM and browse through the artifacts. We were then to choose four artifacts that we liked the best. One of the objects that I chose was titled “Unidentified”, but it was part of the Walter Miles collection. I was hoping that within searching his collection I would come across documentation pertaining to the object.

CCHP: What did you find?

SY: Searching the collection I came across a diary that Walter Miles kept. Within this diary, there was a chapter that dated to the exact date that was located on the tag of my artifact.

Diary page from the Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1160, Folder 2.

Diary page from the Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1160, Folder 2.

 

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

SY: The diary gave interesting information that not only pertained to the day, but also to the artifact. In the chapter Miles stated that he was sending a piece of the object back to Rudolph due to it being dull. With further research I was able to find out that during the 1930s O.C. Rudolph was not only an inventor, but creating and manufacturing polarimeters here in the United States. By researching the polarimeters and comparing it to the artifact I have found that my artifact was constructed similar to O.C. Rudolph’s polarimeter and the manufactures mark is located on top of the artifacts case.

CCHP: What’s next?

SY: The next step I took was bringing all of my research to my peers, Dr. Kearns, and Fran who were as excited about the find as I was. My peers and I were able to include all of the research that was obtained into our exhibit. Since then Dr. Kearns and Emily have informed me that the contentDM will be changed from reading “Unidentified” to reading “Polarimeter”.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

SY: Although researching the object was an assignment for our project, it was extremely exiting to find and I encourage everyone that is able to include research from an archives to do so. Being able to do research at an archives not only gives you an opportunity to have primary sources of information, but it also gives you an opportunity to observe the object yourself.

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Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

Every day researchers gather materials from the archives to tell all kinds of different stories. The stories don’t all make it into academic publications and in fact many are not destined for publication anyways – some research is just for funsies!

As the reference archivist here at the Cummings Center I get to hear these stories and some are so great I share them with the rest of the staff. This got us thinking that maybe all of you would like to hear some of these great stories, so we’re starting a new series to highlight the Stories from the Stacks.

Stories from the Stacks Vol. I: Searching for Molly. 

Michael F. Vogel, M.S.Ed. – CAGS is a self-employed financial trader and former mentee of psychologist Molly Harrower.

CCHP: What led you to us?

MFV: Trying to locate Molly Harrower’s  home/office in New York city.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

MFV: Molly’s street address on New York’s upper east side. I like to visit the sites where great psychology happened.

CCHP: What did you find?

MFV: I found it and discovered that Woody Allen is currently living there!

[Reference Archivist note: I located a piece of Molly Harrower’s letterhead, scanned it, and sent it to Michael as proof of her address.]

harrowerlh_m842_misc1

Molly Harrower papers, box M842, folder “Misc. 1”

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

MFV: Yes!  Woody Allen could have known Molly and possibly was her patient!

CCHP: Any let downs?

MFV: None.

CCHP: What’s next?

MFV: A return to Orgonon –  Wilhelm Reich’s  home/office/observatory in Rangeley Maine.  I have been there many times.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

MFV: Pilgrimages to the locations where the master practitioners of psychology  practiced keeps them alive within oneself.  I was once the Director of Psychology Services in the Pediatric rehabilitation hospital where Dr. Jonas Salk developed the Polio Vaccine.  Three (3) Months into this position I learned from the Hospital Administrator that my office was Dr. Salk’s Office !!!  I met him several times when he would return.  He lives within me (as does his original vaccine).   This is probably why I enjoy my pilgrimages.

[Reference Archivist note: CCHP houses the  Lee Salk papers – brother to Jonas Salk!]

mollys-house

Michael paying tribute to his mentor Molly Harrower and keeping her alive in his heart at 118 East 70th St.

 

 

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