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Posts Tagged ‘historical photographs’

– 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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 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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-contributed by Emily Gainer.

October is American Archives Month and National Family History Month.  Two important topics in one month!  In recognition, I wanted to share a little bit about how an archivist (me) thinks about storing family treasures.

Most people have important items that document their family’s history.  It might be photographs, diplomas, cookbooks, or a Bible.  The items may have historical value or sentimental value.  Whatever your treasured items are, there are some general tips for preservation.

General advice for preserving family treasures:

  • Store important items in a cool, dry area with a stable environment. This generally means no basements or attics.  Fluctuation in temperatures and humidity can be very damaging.
  • Store items away from water tanks, water pipes, humidifiers or anything else that introduce moisture to your historical materials.
  • Similarly, store items away from a heater, fireplace, or furnace. This includes displaying items by hanging them on the wall.  Don’t hang family photographs directly over a heating vent.
  • Store items away from light. Sunlight and light bulbs can cause photographs and ink to fade over time.  Before displaying items in your home, consider the amount of light they will be exposed to.
  • Store paper documents and photographs unfolded and unrolled. Folds can weaken the paper and cause tears over time.
  • Family treasurers are meant to be shared and enjoyed! When sharing those items with family during the holidays, use clean hands.  Wash lotions off, and keep the items away from the dinner table or drink glasses.  When handling photographs, wear cotton gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints and oils.

This oversize photograph at the CCHP was folded and rolled. You can see the damage it has caused. It is recommended to store items unfolded and unrolled. I’ve been working on unrolling this photograph by enclosing it an archival folder and placing heavy books on top.  Over time, it will relax but will never go back to its original state.

There are many resources available to provide more details about preservation.  The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) publishes a series of preservation leaflets.  The Image Permanence Institute specializes in storage guides for photographs, including digital images.  Additionally, many archivists order archival supplies, such as folders, boxes, and photograph sleeves, from Gaylord.

White cotton gloves are recommended for handling photographs, negatives, and glass plates. No fingerprints! I keep a pair of gloves in my desk drawer at all times.

So this month, think like an archivist!  Look at your family history treasures and consider what you can do to ensure their long-term preservation.

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– Contributed by Jodi Kearns

Fall 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Archives of the History of American Psychology. The April 2015 book-of-the-month selection pays tribute to this rich history  that CCHP staff and students have dedicated the past 50 years to preserving. In 2015, the mission of the Cummings Center is to support access to the complete historical record of psychology and related human sciences in order to foster understanding of the human condition.  The Illustrated History of American Psychology, 2nd edition, published 17 years ago, was an early project in providing access to the historical record of American psychology.

Populated largely by photographs and digitized materials from CCHP collections and written by the co-founders of the Archives, Drs. John A. Popplestone and Marion White McPherson, the Illustrated History describes in words and illustrations with more than 350 pictures the (at the time) just over 100-year story of American psychology . The book visits experimental psychology laboratories, writings and works of prominent figures, military testing for intelligence and vocation, and more.

The photographs and objects from the Archives in the Illustrated History are still in the CCHP collections today.

exhibit in Museum of Psychology showcasing artifacts from CCHP collections

exhibit in Museum of Psychology showcasing artifacts from CCHP collections

The phrenology bust on page 37, for example, is on exhibit in the Museum of Psychology. (Can you find it in the above gallery photograph?)

An Illustrated History of American Psychology, page 37

An Illustrated History of American Psychology, page 37

So, too, is the pseudophone now on display in the Museum depicted in this 1928 image on page 86. (Do you see it in the gallery photo?)

An Illustrated History of American Psychology, page 86

An Illustrated History of American Psychology, page 86

Additionally, images in the Illustrated History of manuscript papers and testing materials remain in the CCHP collections and available to researchers.

An Illustrated History of American Psychology,  page 127

An Illustrated History of American Psychology, page 127

An Illustrated History of American Psychology,  pages 148-149

An Illustrated History of American Psychology, pages 148-149

Dorothy Gruich, CCHP Coordinator, helped Drs. Popplestone and McPherson put the first edition together while she was an undergraduate student assistant at the Archives.

Please visit the University of Akron Press for information about other CCHP publications.

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Molly Harrower, 1906 – 1999

 

-Contributed by Stephanie Cameron.

Stephanie Cameron has volunteered and worked at the Center for the History of Psychology for several years and is currently processing photographs from the Molly Harrower papers.

Molly Harrower (1906-1999) received her Ph.D. in 1934, working with E.G. Boring, Arnold Gesell, and Kurt Koffka. Over the course of her career, she focused on  electrical brain stimulation, the Rorschach test, psychodiagnostics, consulting, and psychotherapy. She also served as a Military Consultant for the United States Air Force and Army.

Medical Field Service School

Medical Field Service School

As one of the first women to practice psychology in a male dominated profession, Harrower experienced the effects of prejudice and inequality by men and women. Refusing to waver in her aspirations, she accomplished many of her goals and became the first woman to dine in the Montefiore Hospital doctor’s dining room.

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At the age of 61, Harrower joined the University of Florida as a faculty member and taught Clinical Psychology.

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Harrower, tubing with her students.

 

While Harrower dedicated her life to the field of psychology, research, practice, and writing, she had several hobbies. She was passionate about animals and their care, writing poetry, swimming, and golfing. For her 80th birthday, she took an opportunity to swim with manatees.

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Based on the interpretation of the rich Molly Harrower collection housed at the Center for the History of Psychology, Harrower would have encouraged us to work past our barriers, think outside of the box, and to LIVE!

As she said in 1946, “Life, you will lose a lover when I die!” (cited in Harrower, 1946, Time to squander, time to reap. New Bedford, MA: Reynolds)

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