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Posts Tagged ‘apparatus’

-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 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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