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contributed by Aubrey Baldwin, Phillip Fischio, Anthony Greenaway, Laura Loop, and Katelynn Olsen (students in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program).

Fire, arson, danger. Most people don’t associate these words with children; however the work of George A. Sakheim might suggest otherwise.

Card taken from Sakheim’s original collection, which states his research. Box M6591; Folder 1

 

George A. Sakheim, a clinical psychologist, did most of his research on the fire-setting behaviors of children during the 1970s to the early 2000s. Dr. Sakheim’s discoveries led to various published works on child arsonists. Overall, his work contributed to a greater understanding of a topic that previously was not well understood.

Most of the information was garnered through therapy sessions with minor fire-setter case studies.  Many of the children that Dr. Sakheim worked with suffered from mental illness, which may have contributed to their fire-setting behaviors. Part of his work involved assessing the level of risk exhibited by each child. He ranked each patient as minor, moderate, or severe. Dr. Sakheim performed many different tests to create these rankings. One such test was an exercise allowing the children to draw something associated to what they were discussing in therapy.

Example of a patient’s drawing. Box M6592; Folder 11

 

The various cases that Dr. Sakheim reviewed of child and adolescent fire-setters made him an expert on the subject. His expertise secured him a consulting position with the New York State Office of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation. He also wrote several books and articles on the topic, helping the psychological community gain a better understanding of the phenomenon. 

Juvenile Firesetters in Residential Treatment by George A. Sakheim et al. Box M6609; Folder 2

 

Dr. Sakheim’s archival papers documenting this work are now available at the Cumming’s Center for the History of Psychology. The papers contain 20 letter size document cases and 1 record storage box, all relating to Dr. Sakheim’s work. All of the patient files are restricted, including cassette tapes of interviews with firesetters, but Dr. Sakheim’s research and written works are open for research.  View the finding aid for the George Sakheim papers for more details.

The processing of this archival collection fulfilled requirements for students enrolled in the course Foundations of Museums and Archives I.

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Contributed by Christina Gaydos.  Christina is a Kent State Library and Information Science student, completing her Spring practicum before graduation in May 2016. Christina is focusing on cataloging, assisting in cataloging print and manuscript collections, among other projects, including ContentDM.

Etiquette. The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. AKA Manners. For a two year old, two phrases that often appear in our tiny memory banks of phrases are “Please” and “Thank you”. Manners and polite behavior, generally, were instilled upon us by our parents at an early age, so that by adulthood, we could use these skills without thinking. This training is not new, and will–fingers crossed–continue into the future. A small price to pay for continued civility within our society, right?

Now, take a step back in time with me. Manners and etiquette have not always been this cut and dry: Please and Thank you. Holding a door open. Inside voices. Sharing. Exchange of pleasantries. While cataloging a number of items from the CCHP print collection, I came across a large number of etiquette books for men, women and children. Etiquette books, really? Flip one open and you will quickly see just how complex being a polite member of society would have been some 100 or so years ago!

I am providing three interesting examples of etiquette books. The first is solely for the polite gentlemen, the second an educational read for boys and girls, and the third for both men and women alike. Be sure to look over the table of contents to see the many ways in which correct etiquette could be applied to your lives!

[1] The gentlemen’s book of etiquette and manual of politeness, being a complete guide for a gentleman’s conduct in all his relations towards society—Containing Rules for the etiquette to be observed in the street, at table, in the ballroom, evening party, and morning call, with full directions for polite correspondence, dress, conversation, manly exercises, and accomplishments. From the best French, English, and American authorities— by Cecil B. Hartley

Published: 1860

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Yes, this is the whole title! As the Introduction will so kindly point out, gentlemen in society must effortlessly be able to assess a situation and conduct themselves accordingly– “To make your politeness part of yourself, inseparable from every action, is the height of gentlemanly elegance and finish manner” (p.4). For those of you who are curious, “manly exercises” include maintaining one’s health through riding [horses], driving, boxing, sailing, hunting, skating and cricket.

 

[2] A book for boys and girls; Our business boys / by Rev. F.E. Clark. Art of good manners / by Mrs. S.D. Powers. Business openings for girls / By Sallie Joy White

Published: 1884, 1895

 

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Composed of three booklets written in an “instructive and entertaining way” to educate children on proper etiquette, our particular copy was a Christmas present to a “Clarence” From Aunt Leola Xmas 1924. Cannot help but feel overwhelming disappointment at this Christmas gift—or was our little Clarence that much of a trouble maker? We will never know!

 

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[3] Book of Etiquette Volume I and II By Lillian Eichler

Published: 1921, 1923

 

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The first thing you will notice with these volumes is the extent to which they go into detail on every aspect of important doings in society. Seemingly endless ways to subdivide proper etiquette from Dress to Traveling, Weddings to Invitations. One of the authors actually notes how ridiculous some of the codes of etiquette have become. She uses the example of a gentlemen about to save a drowning man, but upon realizing he has not been formally introduced, he continues on– leaving the man to drown, happy to have avoid a social faux pas.

The overarching goal of etiquette in these volumes, was the same– good manners and etiquette are important because they improve everyone’s quality of life and create a more polite environment. A nod to all those lovely ladies on PBS’s Downton Abbey, I certainly would have given up a long time ago.

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– contributed by Rhonda Rinehart

This month’s selection is by Rhonda Rinehart, Manager of Special Collections.

BOOK: Better Living Booklets for Parents and Teachers: Junior Life Adjustment Booklets/Life Adjustment Booklets, Published by Science Research Associates, Inc./Grolier, New York

Among CHP’s thousands of books, you will find tucked between larger, more prominent volumes, a smattering of thin, nearly undetectable booklets on parenting and child development.  Written by various authors for the Better Living Booklets series produced by the Science Research Associates, Inc. throughout the 1940s and 1950s, these booklets focus mainly on advising adults and caregivers on helping children adjust to the many social situations they will encounter on the road to adulthood.  Many more were also written specifically for children and adolescents to help them understand feelings they may be experiencing as they grow up and preparing them for decisions they will need to make as they adjust to becoming adults.  And still a few were written with the idea of helping adults understand themselves and their life situations.  Authors include child psychologist Mary Louise Northway; children’s author Doris Gates; essayist Sidonie M. Gruenberg; education specialist Ruth Strang; and novelist Hilda Sidney Krech.

As tools for comparison, these booklets offer a wealth of ideas and attitudes that can help us place psychology within its historical context.  Although many of the ideas portrayed in these booklets would certainly be considered outmoded, all of the topics are still relevant today.  Learning, development, feelings and emotions, relationships, and social issues are all topics that are discussed and written about today.  How we have come to understand these topics culturally, socially and professionally, is very different from attitudes in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Cover images of Junior Life Adjustment Booklets/Life Adjustment Booklets

Cover images of Junior Life Adjustment Booklets/Life Adjustment Booklets

The historical context in which these booklets were written places them firmly within an era that was beginning to see changes that would guide movements of the 1960s and 1970s.  Sex and gender roles, both common topics of these booklets, were steeped in traditional thinking about men and women, but the fact that these subjects were beginning to be discussed at all rather than the common practice of hiding them away indicates changing attitudes about these often-considered taboo subjects.

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Not every idea presented in this series is completely outmoded or naive, however.  Consider modern views about popularity, managing money, and educational testing and it could be argued that though our culture and society have changed in attitude about these topics, is it necessarily an improved, advanced or “better” one?

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As with any of the materials at the CHP, studying these booklets can allow us to see where we’ve been, compare where we are now and hopefully help us learn for the future.

The entire catalog list of Better Living Booklets titles available at the CHP can be viewed here:  http://tinyurl.com/mguwwgx

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