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Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton, Reference Archivist.

Ross Stagner is well known in the history of psychology for his work in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, the study of personality, and his involvement with the founding of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

And it started here in Akron, Ohio!

StagnerUAyearbook1936_PICASA

Ross Stagner’s 1936 Tel-Buch faculty photograph
Photo credit: Archival Services, University Libraries, The University of Akron

Ross Stagner accepted his first regular faculty position at The University of Akron in 1935 and the United Rubber Workers organized that very same year. According to Stagner’s SIOP autobiography, “My enthusiasm soared when, on my first day in that city, I saw a huge banner welcoming the “Rubber Workers Organizing Committee….”[and] before long I had gotten involved in educational and organizational efforts of this group.”

At one point Akron was the Rubber Capital of the World as companies like Goodyear, Goodrich, Firestone, and roughly twenty other lesser known rubber factories called Akron home. The rubber industry employed 40,000 Akronites at its peak but according to Brecher (1972) by 1933 nearly half of Akron’s rubber workers were unemployed. Firestone and several other factories had closed and Goodyear was operating on a two-day work week.

The early 1930s were an interesting time in the history of industry and a critical time in Akron industry. Among other things, Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 and section 7A included a provision that allowed employees the right to organize and bargain collectively without interference or coercion from employers. This opened the gates for thousands of Akron rubber workers to join local trade unions and the United Rubber Workers Union (URW) was established in 1935.

Stagner’s arrival in Akron coincided with the height of trouble in the Akron rubber industry. In response to increased production demands and decreased wages, workers organized numerous strikes at several different companies in the early 1930s. Then, on February 14, 1936 tirebuilders in Goodyear’s Plant No. 2 shut off their machines and sat down signaling the start of a giant “sit-down” strike.  In addition to the sit-downs, workers also organized long picket lines and production at Goodyear Tire and Rubber came to a halt.

A settlement was reached on March 22, 1936 with the management at Goodyear accepting the majority of the workers’ demands.

Industrial/Organization Psychology wasn’t Ross Stagner’s focus in graduate school and in fact he’d never even had a single course on the topic. However, he admitted to learning a great deal about industrial working conditions from the rubber workers and according to Zickar (2004) he went on to be one of only a handful of early researchers in the field to take a pro-union stance. He conducted numerous research studies throughout his career that focused on union commitment, collective bargaining, and union socialization. And aside from his pro-union work in Industrial/Organizational Psychology he was also a pivotal, founding member of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues in 1936 – a group dedicated to using psychology to make social change.

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Ross Stagner to Abraham Maslow, April 1936
Abraham Maslow papers, box M4495, folder 3
Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron

References:

Brecher, J (1973). Strike!. Straight Arrow Books, San Francisco, CA.

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Records, 1898-1993. Archival Services, University Libraries, The University of Akron.

Lachman, S. J. (1998). Ross Stagner (1909-1997). American Psychologist, 53(4), 482-483.

Abraham Maslow papers. The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Ross Stagner papers. The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Zickar, M. J. (2004). An analysis of industrial-organizational psychology’s indifference to labor unions in the United States. Human Relations, 57(2), 145-167.

 

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contributed by Nicole Merzweiler.

The CCHP recently received an interesting new collection that I would like to share! It is the Frank B. Gilbreth Collection of Stereoscopic Photographs. If you have read, or watched the original movie version of Cheaper by the Dozen, then you may recognize the name Frank B. Gilbreth. The book, written by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and his sister Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, describes life with their parents, who were known as efficiency experts. Gilbreth Sr. and Lillian were business partners who studied efficiency and output in industrial work places. Frank, an engineer, and Lillian, who had her Ph.D. in psychology, used time-and-motion studies to streamline employee movements and increase comfort and productivity.

The set of stereoscopic photographs includes a letter dated March 19, 1914, from Frank Gilbreth to Hugo Münsterberg. The letter provides detailed descriptions for the photographs. Letter_001

Gilbreth wanted to show Münsterberg, a pioneer of applied psychology who also had interest in industrial/organizational work, the projects that he had been working on and sent photographs which were mainly from his time at The New England Butt Company in Providence, Rhode Island.

You’ll notice something unique about these photographs – there are two side-by-side images. Stereoscopic photographs are used to create depth in the picture. If you look at these through a stereoscopic viewer they will become three-dimensional. The collection consists of 54 stereoscopic photographs, including 13 on 8 x 9.25 inch cards, 24 on 3.5 x 7 inch cards, and 17 photographs without card backing in a variety of sizes. All of the photographs in this collection have been digitized and are available to view online.

Some of my favorite from the collection include:

According to the letter, “1026 shows the experiment room where my micro-motion study first took place. The floor is cross-sectioned, and the two clocks can be seen half way up on the right hand side of the picture.”

According to the letter, “1026 shows the experiment room where my micro-motion study first took place. The floor is cross-sectioned, and the two clocks can be seen half way up on the right hand side of the picture.”

 

According to the letter, “618-G70-2. This picture shows ten cycles of folding ten handkerchiefs, taken from the right side in put in a box in front”

According to the letter, “618-G70-2. This picture shows ten cycles of folding ten handkerchiefs, taken from the right side in put in a box in front”.

 

According to the letter, “#618-G71-C shows an operator making more than 150 motions in folding one of these pieces of cloth. The operator should do this work in 16 motions.”

According to the letter, “#618-G71-C shows an operator making more than 150 motions in folding one of these pieces of cloth. The operator should do this work in 16 motions.”

 

According to the letter, “S10-B. This is a cyclegraph of a surgeon tieing [sic] a knot in a suture around an artery. This is also a dummy operation.”

According to the letter, “S10-B. This is a cyclegraph of a surgeon tieing [sic] a knot in a suture around an artery. This is also a dummy operation.”

Many thanks to Milt and Lee Hakel for these fabulous materials!

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