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contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

Welcome back for the fourth installment of CCHP Pandemic Projects.

First of all, let me be the first to say that there is no substitute for working with physical archival materials in the Charles L. and Marjorie S. Brewer reading room. But since we can’t do that right now we are trying our best to provide some meaningful archival projects suitable for remote learning.

I think one misconception about teaching with archival materials is that you have to have all the pieces of the puzzle and you have to tell a complete story. In all reality, for instructors and students just getting started with primary sources, that can be a bit overwhelming.

Let me share a CCHP pro tip – one of the best ways to get started with primary sources is with a single letter or one page document. For real!

You’ll find everything for this project here: A Single Letter or Document Analysis.

Check out this one. It’s one of my favorites. I use it for onsite “introduction to archives” sessions all the time.

Martin Reymert papers, box M2896, folder 5

As you are probably aware, the meeting is a “Men Only’ affair, so for God’s sake, don’t bring along any women.

If you are into the history of psychology you likely know all about the Society of Experimental Psychologists (aka The Experimentalists) and their exclusionary history. They were the very definition of “an old boys’ club.” This letter is pretty excellent evidence for that so it’s perfect for helping to tell that story.

But you don’t have to be teaching a history of psychology course to use this letter in your coursework. You can use this letter to help tell the story of women in science in 1920s. You can use it for a lesson on presentism and have students consider how folks likely interpreted this letter in 1926 versus how it would be interpreted today. You can have your students use this letter as a jumping off point for a bit of research about the roles of women in America in general during this time period.

I have a general document analysis sheet available in our CCHP Pandemic Projects folder but remember, you can adapt it however you see fit. And don’t forget, the National Archives has some fantastic resources online for getting started with document analysis. See here: NARA Educator Resources.

How about another letter? This is another one of my favorites.

Walter & Catharine Cox Miles papers, box M1199.5, folder LHH-GS

It’s easy to determine who received the letter (Dr. Walter Miles at Stanford University) but who sent it? If nothing else, this is a great lesson on the time it can take to decipher handwriting in the archives.

So, who wrote the letter? Can you tell? You can find the answer here.

Now that you know it’s First Lady Lou Henry Hoover you can use the letter in a variety of ways. Use it as evidence of her involvement with the Girl Scouts of America. Use the letter to help teach about the history of Girl Scouts or for biographical research on Lou Henry Hoover. Maybe dig deeper and try to determine whether or not there is some kind of connection between Walter R. Miles and Lou Henry Hoover. Hint – there is a connection.

And finally, how about we move away from correspondence? Check out the cover page of the “Gay Issue” of the Psychologists for Social Action‘s Social Action (1975) newsletter.

CCHP Special Interest collection, folder “Psychologists for Social Action”

The front page of this newsletter has two pieces, a note to readers and also a note from the editor. Both are powerful statements and can really help facilitate some critical thinking about who is doing the research. Remember, homosexuality wasn’t removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) until 1973. In the DSM-I (1952) being gay was a sociopathic personality disturbance and in the DSM-II (1968) being gay was considered a sexual deviation.

Were LGBTQ+ psychologists and psychiatrists doing the research and creating those labels or were heterosexual psychologists and psychiatrists creating those labels? Did LGBTQ+ folks consider themselves mentally ill prior to 1973? Who determines what ends up in the DSM anyways? Talk about that with your students!

People assume that men can write about women and whatever applies to men can also apply to women (in a direct or reverse fashion)….As we have had to learn in traditional psychological literature, our knowledge about males does not really tell us anything about females, except with the possible exception that this literature has clued us into the extensiveness and nature of the suppression of women. So read on, but keep a good check on your thinking.

So read on, but keep a good check on your thinking. I love that. How can you facilitate a discussion with your students to help them keep that in mind as they conduct literature reviews and as they work to consider sources as evidence throughout not only your class but throughout their lifetime?

And who were the Psychologists for Social Action? Are they still around? Did they morph into another group? What else were they doing in the 1970s?

I assume, like me, you think the first page of the newsletter isn’t nearly enough. I know! I know! This is supposed to be an analysis of a single page but I’m a “see more” kind of gal so I just can’t help myself. Access the entire 1973 newsletter here.

Go ahead and get started teaching with archives. Start small, work your way up, and get your students engaged with primary sources. Even a single letter can spark interest and provide an opportunity for critical thinking.

A note to instructors and students: we would love to hear back from you if you have used any of these projects in class. Your feedback helps us as we continue to develop archival projects that can be completed remotely.

To access more CCHP remote learning materials click here: CCHP Pandemic Projects and for specific questions please email me directly – lizette@uakron.edu.

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– contributed by Lizette R. Barton.

Recently the CCHP served as host for the 50th anniversary conference of everyone’s favorite international society for the history of the behavioral and social sciences – Cheiron. It was a pleasure to have so many great historians here in Akron and I figured since we’d have them in town we might as well share what we are doing in regards to archival education and instruction here at the Cummings Center. Thankfully the committee accepted my submission and they put me on the program.

We host visiting classes at the Center from the University of Akron and around the country. And we offer a variety of hands-on archival projects and activities – namely document analysis exercises. So even for a room full of historians I started with the basics.

I annotated the scanned letter below in order to draw attention to some of things we want the students to notice and I waxed poetic about just how much we can get from a single document.

 

AbrahamMaslowPapers_StagnerLetter_BoxM4495_folder3_IntermediateMarkup

Abraham Maslow papers, box M4495, folder 3

Just look at this gem of a letter between Ross and Abe! It’s got all my document analysis favorites – it’s missing last names, it provides societal context (The Goodyear Rubber strikes), it references someone who eventually changed their name (Krechevsky aka David Krech), it mentions the very beginnings of an unnamed psychological society (SPSSI), and it provides information on what both the receiver and writer of the letter were working on at the time (anthropology, fascist attitudes, and social psychology).

Next up – analyzing a photograph.

Coover_Houdini_Miles_1924Stanford_Page_1

Coover_Houdini_Miles_1924Stanford_Page_2

Walter and Catharine Cox Miles papers, box V43, folder “Yale”

We discussed challenges associated with analyzing photographs. And we discussed issues specific to this image including how to interpret handwriting and what had been written by the owner of the image (names and dates) and what had been added later by other parties (M1199.16 is the box number from which his photograph came).

After all this talk it was time to let the Cheironians do some analyzing of their own so I reused a project we created for a UA sociology professor and her Social Inequalities class.

DavidGrantPapers_M1024_folderCorr1957I_1pg (man)_WM_Redacted_PRESENTATION

DavidGrantPapers_M1023_Corr63I_1pgs (woman)_Redacted_PRESENTATION_Redacted

David Grant papers, boxes M1023 and M1024

I distributed redacted, but unannotated copies of each of these two letters to the Cheironians and asked them to work in groups to complete a document analysis sheet. The analysis sheet first asks participants to list adjectives used to describe each candidate followed by questions including, “What do you notice about the similarities and differences in the language used to describe each candidate?”; “What might account for the differences?”‘ and “What if this same language was used in reference letters in 2018?”

I gave the groups about 15 minutes or so to work and and just like when we worked with the UA students on this project we had a great discussion! The historians had all kinds of theories. It was excellent!

For our last group project I distributed copies of Operations of the Government Hospital for the Insane (1857) – the second annual report of the first government asylum in the United States that would become known as St. Elizabeth’s – and another analysis sheet. This was a riff on a project we created for another UA sociology professor’s Sociology of Health and Illness class.

participants

Look at all these Cheironians doing history! So awesome!

The analysis sheet asked participants to locate illnesses and conditions for which patients were hospitalized. It asked participants to determine if the language describing any of the illnesses had changed over time and how similar illnesses or conditions would be described and treated today. The sheet also asked participants to look for costs associated with the running of the hospital and statistics regarding patients. And finally, “What did you find out from this document about mental health and mental health treatments you had not already known?”

Whew! What a discussion! It was excellent.

I think the coolest part was that so many people asked poignant questions regarding the history of mental health care in American and state hospitals. I took that as an opportunity to point out that while I didn’t know the answers to the majority of their question these are exactly the kinds of questions a project like this should evoke and it’s why we often let visiting instructors lead the discussion. We at the Cummings Center are experts in access but the instructors we work with are the content experts. That’s why we make such a great team!

The best part of this activity was that I was able to share with the Cheironians they could do this one with their own students since we are actively working on upload our entire collection of Cushing Memorial Library Collection of Asylum Reports to our digital repository in full-text as downloadable PDFs. Woohoo!

Cheiron was such a great time and I was so pleased to be able to share the educational work we do at the Cummings Center with such an engaged and supportive group. If you’re interested in learning more about the projects discussed here and/or working together to create an archival project please contact us at ahap@uakon.edu.

 

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