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contributed by reference archivist and mother – Lizette R. Barton 

One of my favorite things about working with archival collections is that I get a glimpse into the personal lives of the psychologists whose papers we house. Everyday I see reminders of real life – personal notes and letters, journals,  family photos and home videos.

Catharine Cox Miles (1890-1984) was a “supermom” well before that term even existed.

A student of Lewis Terman at Stanford, Catharine Cox earned her PhD in 1925 and her dissertation, focused on the assignment of IQ estimates of several hundred prominent figures who lived prior to IQ testing, was published in 1926 as the second volume in Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius series. While working as Terman’s research assistant in 1927 she met Walter R. Miles (a widower).  They were married that same year and Catharine Cox Miles became the stepmother of three teenagers.

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Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, V57

In 1928 Catharine and Walter welcomed a daughter and a portrait of Catharine as a mother is preserved through a folder of personal letters between Walter and Catharine during their daughter Anna’s first year. Three cheers for (relatively) complete archival manuscript collections!

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Tomorrow is her birthday, 7 months. Thank thee, dear husband, for making me so happy and giving me this precious little person. [WR & CC Miles papers, M1129.25, folder 1]

The Miles family moved east in 1930 as Walter took a sabbatical from Stanford at the Institute of Human Relations at Yale. Catharine took a position in the Institute as well. The letter below is one of several seeking day care options for their young daughter. As a mother of a recent preschool reject myself, I appreciated the multiple letters and name dropping. Looks like some things never change.

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Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1123, folder 10

The Miles’s went back to Stanford but eventually returned to Yale in 1932 as Walter took a position at the Institute and Catharine accepted a professorship.

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Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1104, folder 1

While at Yale, Catharine continued work on a Masculinity-Femininity scale she had started with Lewis Terman at Stanford and in 1936 they published “Sex and Personality.”

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Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1104, folder 1

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1936 was a good year! Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, V55, folder 15

Catharine and Walter both retired from Yale in 1953. They traveled to Istanbul where Walter taught for several years and later returned to the United States to settle in Connecticut. Catharine Cox Miles died on October 11, 1984.

Catharine Cox Miles was a clinical psychologist, a professor, and a researcher. She is known for her work in intelligence and aging and the assessment of femininity-masculinity. She traveled the world.

And she managed all that while being a mom to four children. Happy Mother’s Day Catharine Cox Miles. I salute you.

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Walter and Catharine Cox Miles papers, V57

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– contributed by Kate Gray.

Kate describes the process of designing, researching, and installing an exhibition to fulfill course requirement for 1900:302 Foundations in Museums & Archives II. 

The concept of time has baffled the greatest minds in human history, while timekeeping devices originally left the students of Museums and Archives II equally bewildered. When beginning work on this exhibition, we were each given about seven or eight time pieces from the Cummings Center’s collections.

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The artifacts varied greatly in the background information already provided on them. Some of us had a manufacturer, date, and specific classification of the instrument. Others received pieces simply classified as “timers.” At times, this made research very difficult. However, all of us were up to the challenge.

We began by combing over the Cummings Center’s archives for any information on the pieces, manufacturers, or individuals who created them. Once we compiled that material, we then moved on to outside databases to supplement our findings. Our main goals were to track down what psychological experiments these time pieces were used in and who used them. When visiting the exhibit, you will learn about the time pieces themselves, the individuals who created them, and the psychologists who use them in their work.

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After discovering the desired information, we then moved on to planning how to display the time pieces and data. We debated artifact groupings, the objects’ placements, exhibit colors, and which display cases to use.

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As I write this blog, we are on the homestretch for this exhibit. We have already begun the to install the exhibition, finalize the displays, and have confirmed our color scheme. Through this experience, we learned about  the immense planning that goes into creating a museum exhibit. Everything from the font size to the display case choice impacts the success of the exhibition. This project led us on a challenging yet rewarding journey through time.

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Please Join Us for:

The Test of Time: Chronometry in 19th and 20th Century Psychological Laboratories

Opening reception:

  • May 10, 2018 from 2:30-4:30pm
  • Free admission for the opening event

After the opening reception, the exhibit will be open during regular hours of the National Museum of Psychology beginning June 28.  This temporary exhibit will be open June 28 through September 2018.

Location:

  • Gallery C / RDWY 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

Contact: ihsc@uakron.edu; 330-972-7285

For More Information go to http://www.uakron.edu/chp/education/student-exhibit

Program info: This project fulfills the requirements for students in 1900:302, Foundations of Museums and Archives II at the Institute for Human Science and Culture.  Contact Dr. Jodi Kearns jkearns@uakron.edu for information about the Museums and Archives certificate program.

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contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

While working in the Walter and Catharine Cox Miles papers recently I came across a string of correspondence from 1928 between Walter Miles and Margaret Floy Washburn in which they reference a “motion picture film taken at Carlisle.”

I’ve always known this film as the “Titchener Film” due to the first two minutes taken at the 1927 meeting of the Experimentalists but there are 11 minutes of footage post Titchener and it’s really good stuff.

This blog was supposed to be a fluff piece for Women’s History Month to show Margaret Floy Washburn on film. But instead, and you know this is coming if you’ve read any of my contributions to this blog, I went down the rabbit hole….

I Googled, experimental psychology + Carlisle and the second hit was a 2010 History of Psychology journal article by my friend Jim Goodwin titled, “The 1928 Carlisle conference: Knight Dunlap and a national laboratory for psychology.”

And a bonus – on page 379 he appears to reference the film in question, “…a brief film, with most scenes featuring Margaret Washburn walking around the Dickinson College campus in the company of various clusters of male attendees.” 

I watched the film and noticed this.

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Walter & Catharine Cox Miles papers, Film 5-5

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Walter & Catharine Cox Miles papers, Film 5-5

Johnson…Johnson…that name was familiar….

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“I consider it [the film] very flattering, except for the indoor view of Miss Johnson and myself, and there it is comforting to observe that the beautiful and comparatively youthful Miss Johnson also suffers from the poor illumination.”  Walter & Catherine Cox Miles papers, M1121, folder 13

Due to the context of the times and the fact that Goodwin wrote that of the 32 attendees Washburn was, “...the only woman invited to the Carlisle meeting….” I assumed the woman in the still frame above was a Mrs. Buford Johnson – the wife of a man named Buford Johnson who joined him at the conference. I went back to Goodwin’s article and the footnote on page 388 includes Buford Johnson as a conference attendee. But in the letter above Margaret Floy Washburn refers to a MISS Johnson not a MRS. Johnson.

I pulled the 1928 APA Directory (the year of the Carlisle Conference) from our reference library and found Buford J. Johnson listed as an APA member. Johnson was at Johns Hopkins (as was Knight Dunlap – organizer of the Carlisle Conference) and experimental psychology was listed as an interest which would make sense for a psychologist attending a conference centered around the creation of a National Laboratory of Experimental Psychology.

But then I noticed Johnson was a graduate of LaGrange College.

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Wait a minute? Wasn’t LaGrange a women’s college? Wikipedia confirmed my suspicions. LaGrange was a women’s college until  1934 and Johnson earned an A.B. in 1895.

A quick google search of “Buford Johnson” + LaGrange and I was rewarded with a fantastic blog by two LaGrange College librarians titled, “Interesting Alumni: LC’s Extraordinary Women of the Past.”

Extraordinary WOMEN of the past? Was Buford J. Johnson a woman?!

I went back to the APA directories and started leafing through all of them until I hit pay dirt in 1948.

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It turns out Dr. Buford Jeannette Johnson earned her PhD at Hopkins in 1916 and in 1924 became the first woman to be appointed professor of psychology in the department. She was also the founding editor of the journal Child Development and the first woman to be elected president of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology.

I did a search across our collections for Buford Jeannette Johnson and besides the film and letter in which she is mentioned in the Miles papers there was only one other hit – a postcard from 1929 from Johnson to Sarah Dunlap (Knight Dunlap’s daughter) in the Knight Dunlap papers.

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“I am…going to a reception tonight… for the International Congress of LIBRARIANS.”  International Congress of Librarians? Oh my goodness! Buford Johnson is too good to be true! Knight Dunlap papers, M569, folder “Postcards”

Buford Jeannette Johnson died in 1954 at the age of 74. Her death certificate, located by my genealogical-research savvy colleague Dr. Jodi Kearns, indicates Johnson died of acute nephritis with antecedent causes of cerebral arteriosclerosis and “nervous breakdown from excessive study.”

Reading her death certificate broke my heart a little bit. Realizing Dr. Buford Jeannette Johnson is darn near invisible in the history of psychology broke my heart a lot.

What are Buford Jeannette Johnson and Margaret Floy Washburn talking about in this film? Did their laughter stem from the gallows humor almost certainly necessary for  women in the field of experimental psychology in the 1920s? Or maybe it was lighter than that. Maybe they were just friends. Or simply colleagues.

In any case, here are two incredibly talented and bright psychologists sharing a laugh.

 

 

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Contributed by Jodi Kearns & Hillary Nunn.

We went hunting in the estimated 200,000+ postcards in the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection for a Valentine to post today, and we found this card sent on New Year’s Eve 1920 and postmarked in Akron, Ohio at Firestone Park Station. What a gem!

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The message reads: “12-31-20 Hellow got to Akron seven thirty am. All well but I am sleepy. Ha Ha had the blues after I left you dont think I will get over it. How are you feeling since I left you sure miss the [illegible] but [illegible] I can [illegible] over it. good by will write tomorrow Tom

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CCHP staff have written about this postcard collection in past blogs, such as this one about women’s right to vote and this one about National Postcard Week.

The collection is so full of gems that we are co-teaching an unclass for students to investigate this postcard collection. The collection is housed primarily in binders categorized by the Dr. David Campbell. Students will be digitizing postcards in selected binders, and making them available on the digital repository. Additionally, students will be researching related topics of their choosing, which –so far– include topics such as the suffragette movement, privacy, code breaking, postmarks, transcription, and card images that don’t “match” card messages (like Tom’s Valentine postcard sent to Huldah on New Year’s Eve).

To learn more about the postcards, the unclass, and the students, please follow along with the unclass postcard project on the Institute for Human Science and Culture Blog, where students will be posting regularly. The inaugural post introduces the project: In an Unclass of its Own.

The unclass is supported by the EXL Center. Digital Humanities in the Archives is taught in the English Department and hosted at the Cummings Center.

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contributed by Lizette R. Barton.

Like countless others I considered Dr. Joseph White a mentor and a friend and I was heartbroken to learn of his sudden passing in November. Joe White changed my life. He truly, honestly changed the course of my life and I will be forever grateful to him. I know that many of us have Joe White stories – stories of friendship, mentorship, inspiration, and education. I’d like to take this opportunity to share mine.

In 2003 I was a third year undergraduate psychology major at The University of Akron and I was enrolled in the History of Psychology course. David Baker, now my colleague but at the time just my professor for the course, invited Joe White to speak to our class.

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Joe White addressing Dave Baker’s History of Psychology class in 2007

He was insightful and his lecture was thought provoking. I think we can all agree that he was an incredible public speaker who could totally command an audience. At one point in his talk he mentioned the book Even the Rat was White by Robert Guthrie. I headed to the library directly after class and got that book and read it that night. I know this sounds totally cliche but as a white girl who grew up in a very rural, very white community Joe’s lecture and that book were a watershed moment. I quickly learned there is no “the history” but rather “a history” and oftentimes people are silenced and omitted from “the” history so many of us learn about in school.

Dr. Baker encouraged me to contact Dr. White and we quickly struck up a friendship. He wrote me letters of recommendation for graduate school and when I didn’t get in and was heartbroken he helped me reevaluate and realize that I had a real passion for history and archives so maybe not getting into a psychology graduate program wasn’t the worst thing on earth.

As a student assistant in the archives, and later a part-time staff member, I was assigned to process the Robert V. Guthrie manuscript papers and Joe offered to help fund my travel to Hollywood, CA in 2005 in order to see Dr. Guthrie recognized as an elder at the National Multicultural Conference and Summit. My favorite memory from the trip was sharing Manhattans and laughs seated between Dr. Guthrie and Dr. White at the hotel bar. They were impressed I could hold my alcohol “for a country girl” and I wore that as a badge of honor.

We stayed in touch for years and  would make a point to get together for drinks or dinner during his many trips to Akron for UA’s annual Black Male Summit.

By 2007 I was a full-time staff member at the Cummings Center. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity for free UA classes and enrolled in Dr. Zach Williams’ History of Hip Hop class. The topic of the “generational gap” came up again and again in course lectures and readings and when it came time to complete a final project I knew I had to talk to Joe.

The following audio clip was part of my final project for the class. I recorded my interview with Joe and then put some of his words to music. It’s “not safe for work” in that it contains explicit language but Joe’s words are powerful and I am just as inspired by them now as I was then.

Rest easy, Joe. And keep the faith.

 

 

 

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Contributed by Jillian Phipps, Pennie Fordham, and Katherine Gray.

Have you ever wondered where the idea that positive actions should be rewarded came from? Have you ever wondered where the concept of bad behavior being its own punishment came from? If so, then check out the Sidney Bijou papers, which are now available for research at the CCHP.

Sidney Bijou (1908-2009) was a psychologist who specialized in child psychology, behaviorism, and studies on autism. Many of Bijou’s studies showed that encouraging good behavior led to more good behavior, more so than when bad behavior was punished. Bijou traveled all over the world to give symposiums on his research.

Sidney Bijou towards the start of his career, undated. From box M6303, Folder 6

 

Sidney Bijou later in his career, undated. From box M6303, Folder 6

 

Name badge from the Portage Conference in Hiroshima in 1998. From box M6292, Folder 9

Some of Bijou’s major works include Behavior Analysis of Child Development (1993) and Childhood Development: The Basic Stage of Early Childhood (1976).   He contributed to other works, such as New Directions in Behavior Development and Behavior Modification: Contributions to Education, both with Emilio Ribes-Inesta.

The Sidney Bijou papers include his academic works, from when he was in college as a student to when he was teaching as a professor; his research files for his written works; manuscripts of the written works themselves; reference files that show what he was working on year to year; and biographical information on his career that he compiled himself. His papers contain 13 boxes of archival materials. These files contain most of his work in child psychology, behaviorism, and autism research.

Of special note in Bijou’s files is his work on effective teaching and treatment methods for autistic children (1990-1998). In these files, Bijou has different curricula, class designs, and possible ways to assist autistic children in integrating into the public school system.

Example of the worksheets Bijou used to assess how well schools were integrating autistic children. From box M6293, Folder 7.

 

The processing of this archival collection fulfilled requirements for students enrolled in the course Foundations of Museums and Archives I and was generously sponsored by the EX[L] Center at the University of Akron.

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-contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

When “Psychic Killer” was released in 1975, there wasn’t much on the surface to set it apart from other horror movies of the same ilk.  There was violence.  There was gore.  There was sex.  There were victims.  “He freed his mind and body to commit the most sensual and shocking acts imaginable!” promised the movie poster.

Such claims probably don’t mean all that much in the 40-something rearview mirror of Leatherface and Michael Myers but one thing did set “Psychic Killer” apart from other movies and that was The Kirlian Effect.  Based on a 1939 concept developed by Russian inventor Semyon Kirlian that all living things project an energy field, and these energy fields can be photographed, The Kirlian Effect received some attention; at best as a sort of pseudo-psychology and at worst as a complete myth.  The technique developed to capture these energy fields came to be known as Corona Discharge Photography, so named for the electrical discharge brought about by connecting an object to both a photographic plate and a high-voltage electrical source, and snapping a picture of the resulting electro-discharge.  And so Kirlian Photography, as it is also known, was born – and “Psychic Killer” was created in its wake.

Though the movie didn’t quite get it right – turns out the protagonist was astral projecting (a story for another blog) rather than discharging any coronal impulses – Kirlian Photography was indeed the muse for the film’s screenwriter and producer, Mardi Rustam, and, surprisingly, for a handful of psychologists in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

One of those psychologists, Willard Caldwell, was hanging out in a cute little cottage named Kipling Arms, tinkering with his own coronal discharge equipment around the same time that Rustam was conceiving his psychic killer.  While photographing electromagnetic discharges or “auras” of everything from lizards and grasshoppers to vials of his own blood, Caldwell wasn’t just playing a 1970s version of Dr. Frankenstein.

Vial of Willard Caldwell blood.

Willard Caldwell’s left and right frontal lobes.

Willard Caldwell’s hands.

Rather, Caldwell was developing techniques that would come to focus on the effects of magnetic fields upon behavior, schizophrenia, and neuropsychology.  Caldwell worked to incorporate the neuroscience of brain damage and schizophrenia through the use of Kirlian photography into a more serious application, though he did take time to further develop Kirlian photographic techniques for other living things.

Coronal discharge from a grasshopper.

Caldwell’s notes on handling the grasshopper during photography

Biting grasshoppers aside, the applications of Caldwell’s techniques were reported by him in numerous research papers on topics as diverse as cancer and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Though mostly unpublished, Caldwell’s prolific research did get some academic attention, but Kirlian photography remains an outlier in health and psychological research.

But perhaps Kirlian, Caldwell and Rustam were on to something.  The brain, as we know, is a powerful tool.  It stands to reason that we would want to know more about how it works and how it relates to our being.  How we get there is up to us.  We can make movies or we can do research.  Either way, the result is only part of the journey.

Sketch of Kirlian photographic techniques, by Caldwell.

 

The Willard Caldwell papers are located at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron.  View the collection finding aid here: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/OhAkAHA0036.

Photographic equipment Caldwell used in his experimentation is also located at the Cummings Center: http://cdm15960.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15960coll7/id/1713/rec/1

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