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Posts Tagged ‘Special Collections’

 contributed by Tony Pankuch.

Our collections contain a range of unusual artifacts, but one that might surprise you is that we have our very own Ouija Board. Ouija Boards and similar tools have a long history in the field of psychology.

We’d like to share a few fun facts for the Halloween season.

A Ouija board displayed upright in a darkened reading room.
Ouija Board. Artifacts collection, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Most may associate the Ouija Board with the supernatural, but it has been used as a tool for the psychological study of the unconscious mind. In 1957, Frank X. Barron included the Ouija Board in a battery of tests used to study well-known creative writers. Barron’s research notes include detailed descriptions of his subjects’ interactions with the Ouija Board:

Scanned research notes.
Research notes, 1957. Box M5426, Folder 13, Frank X. Barron papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

[redacted] tried to recall the name of a man who had been a school teacher of his. He was not clear about what grade he had had this teacher in, nor was he able to remember his name, though he could visualize the person quite well. The Ouija board traced the following path:

Q P O 1 P T C Q U V W 9 8

When the table paused over 8, [redacted] with some excitement interrupted to report that something extraordinary had happened. He was aware that the pointer had rested over W and then moved to 8. When it came to 8 he remembered all of a sudden that the teacher whose name he was trying to recall had been his teacher in the 8th grade, and it was at the same moment he remembered that his teacher’s name began with W; was, indeed, Weaver.

Barron wasn’t looking to have his subjects communicate with spirits—rather, he and other psychologists who used the Ouija Board hoped that the words and patterns created by their subjects’ hand movements might reflect their unconscious thoughts, feelings, or desires.

Similar to the Ouija Board, this Spirit Writing Board, donated to the Cummings Center by Hobart-William Smith College, was used by researchers to produce “automatic writing”—writing which allegedly comes from the unconscious thoughts of the writer.

A homemade wood-framed spirit writing board displayed in a darkened reading room. It appears as a felt surface under a glass cover.
Spirit Writing Board. Artifacts collection, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

Then there’s the Automatograph. Historian Arthur Blumenthal described the Automatograph as a “scientific-instrument version of the Ouija board.” It doesn’t record writing or messages, but its free moving ball bearings make it ideal for documenting the slightest involuntary movements.

Cover of the Marietta Apparatus Company catalog displayed under a catalog entry for an automatograph.
Marietta Apparatus Company Catalog, undated. Instruments, Apparatus, and Other Manuals and Catalogs, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.

The automatograph records involuntary movements of the arm. It consists of two horizontal glass plates separated by ball bearings. The lower glass is framed and provided with grips for holding the record paper. The subject’s forearm rests on the paper which moves freely on the ball bearings. The slightest involuntary movement of the subject’s arm is recorded by a stylus which moves with the upper plate. Complete with storage case.

The Automatograph was developed by psychologist Joseph Jastrow in the mid-19th century. Jastrow was an strong opponent of spiritualism, and his Automatograph was designed to debunk spiritualism by documenting a psychological, rather than spiritual, basis for unconscious movements.

So, while the Ouija Board may initially seem disconnected from psychological science, the concept of automatic movement—either by spiritual intervention or unconscious impulse—has fascinated psychologists for well over a century. Thus explaining its place in the Archives of the History of American Psychology.

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  • contributed by CCHP student assistant Isabella Pieri with an introduction from reference archivist Lizette R. Barton

INTRODUCTION

The Archives has a lot of material – a lot – in a variety of formats, in different housing, on multiple floors of the building. It can be intimidating. The best way to get to know AHAP is to just spend some time perusing, which is why I like to give my new student assistants a scavenger hunt on their first day on the job. Isabella’s task was to locate 10 different items in the building. I tried to select items from all the different collections. Isabella had no trouble at all cracking my scavenger hunt and she was able to familiarize herself with the building and the collections all while getting a bit lost in the coolness of archives. I think we’re going to get along just fine. – Lizette R. Barton

A SCAVENGER HUNT THROUGH THE CCHP’S ARCHIVES: A FIRST WEEK ADVENTURE

Cultural nuances and histories have held my interest since a young age, stemming from an obsession with the religious beliefs and mythology of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Native American tribes (which are present, today). Entering my fourth year of study as an Anthropology major an perusing a minor in History as well as a certificate in Museum and Archival studies, an opening for a Student Assistant to the Reference Archivist at the CCHP was an opportunity I had to take. To help better acquaint myself with the innerworkings of the institution and the layout of the archives, my first assignment was a scavenger hunt!

I was overwhelmed with how much material I had access to and often found myself getting sidetracked by an interesting title or curious looking box. I really took my time to wander through the stacks, explore each shelf, and familiarize myself with the layout of everything. The CCHP’s archives are home to an incredibly diverse collection, as it’s the world’s largest repository of documents, media, and artifacts pertaining to the history of psychology and other related human sciences. To be totally honest, I did get lost once (or twice), but who’s counting?

Between finding a Kansas State Insane Asylum Report from 1919, a children’s questionnaire about their attitudes, a recipe for a Kaffee Klatsch cake, and letters between a congressman and a psychologist discussing shared interests, I found a curious thread that connected a few of the other items on my list.

What could a book, a collection with a reference to General Mills Inc., and a photograph of a chicken have in common? Animal psychology, apparently (at least in this situation).

One of the items on my docket was a book by the name of The Animal Mind by Margaret Floy Washburn (1917). Washburn upheld the notion that the animal mind could be inferred by observing and recording their behavior and used her own research as well as the experiments of other psychologists and physiologists to support this notion.

Seeing an opportunity in the behavioral principles that were developed by way of these experiments, Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) began to train animals for commercial use. General Mills was an avid customer ­- being producers of cereal, granola, and grain – and often used ABE’s animals to advertise their products. Below is a letter from J.L. Coulombe of General Mills’ advertising to Marion Breland, one of the founders of ABE, listing some of the peculiar requests they have for “acts” and “units”, including that of a fortune telling chicken.

Scanned letter from J. L. Coulombe of General Mills, Inc. to Marion Breland requesting the shipment of several chicken "acts"
Animal Behavior Enterprises papers, box M4288, folder 2

For a screen reader compatible version of this document, click here.

There was also a pencil sketch of an idea for a chicken playing baseball act.

Top-down diagram on lined notebook paper of a miniature baseball field arrangement designed to be operable by a chicken. The device includes a bat for the chicken to peck at and a feeder to supply food to the chicken.
Animal Behavior Enterprises papers, box M4288, folder 2

The chicken would complete an action in exchange for a snack, triggering a mechanism to achieve the desired result and entertain the people watching. Below are two photos of a machine that was used in an act that shares a similar function to the drawing.

Two black and white photos. The first is of a chicken standing on the edge of a miniature baseball field display. Tiny figurines of baseball players are arranged on the field, and a large bat is connected to the batter with a lightweight ball positioned in front of it. The second is of a mechanical box with wires connected to make the baseball display work.
Animal Behavior Enterprises papers, box V115, folder 9

Overall, a very interesting and informative first week on the job looking through the archives here at the CCHP. I’m excited to get more assignments and continue become more comfortable working with the archives!

(And hopefully not get lost again).

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 contributed by Tony Pankuch.

Browsing the contents of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection, one is likely to come across some eyebrow raising titles and headlines from throughout the 20th century. The contents of the collection range from field standard publications like Psychology Today to the long-running Fate magazine, which featured parapsychological phenomena and headlines like “The Severed Head Spoke“. Yet as a queer person interested in the history of psychology and the LGBTQ+ community, the collection provides a fascinating opportunity to explore how LGBTQ+ individuals understood and sought to express their identities in relation to dominant psychological ideologies.

Article headline titled "A Lesbian Speaks Her Mind: An inside account of the feminine side of the female homosexual." Black and white photograph shows a woman placing a hand on another woman's shoulder.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 33, No. 3, October 1966, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

If you’re familiar with the broad strokes of psychology’s historical relationship to the LGBTQ+ community, you likely know that prior to the 1970s there was little opportunity for the open expression of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities within the mental health fields. As explored by works like Henry L. Minton’s Departing From Deviance and the CCHP’s online exhibit A Clockwork Lavender, LGBTQ+ identities were viewed as disorders to be cured rather than legitimate expressions of human diversity.

Yet in popular sexology magazines, articles featuring the firsthand testimony and perspectives of LGBTQ+ individuals were not altogether uncommon prior to the 1970s. In an era when criminalization, medicalization, and inhumane treatment of LGBTQ+ identity was common in the U.S. and abroad, individuals were able to use the space in magazines to advocate (often anonymously) for their own humanity. An early example of this sort of article appeared in the September, 1934 issue of Sex: Sane Sex Standards:

Article excerpt titled “An Interview with An Invert” by Kemit Riedner. Excerpt text included below.
Sex: Sane Sex Standards, Vol. 4, No. 3, September 1934, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

After hearing my case, can you safely say that I have committed any crime by acting in a way that to me is normal? If God created us any different from other people. He must have had a purpose in my view, and I think that the inverts of the world will join me in asking that we be given a chance to live as He sees fit to create us. We do not appreciate the efforts His usurpers have spent in improvising on His handiwork.

In this article, author Kemit Riedner interviewed an “intelligent, educated man” who identified himself as an “invert” (a common sexological term for homosexuality at that time). In the excerpt above, the anonymous man challenges the idea that homosexuality is abnormal or worthy of criminal status. The last portion of this excerpt, in particular, seems targeted at those who sought to “cure” LGBTQ+ identities through conversation therapies.

By the 1960s, articles of this nature had begun to appear regularly in Sexology magazine, which was founded in 1933 and paired sensational headlines and occasionally scandalous imagery with educational articles on a wide variety of topics. Take for instance this 1967 article from the pseudonymous “Rod Chase”:

Article excerpt titled "Inner Thoughts of a Homosexual: Autobiographical notes of a young man's experiences with the "straight" world" by Rod Chase. Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 33, No. 11, June 1967, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

I see sad homosexuals in gay bars and the only thing comparable is sad heterosexuals in normal bars. I see many unhappy heterosexuals, many unhappy marriages. Look at the divorce rate! Look at the wretched destructive marriages! But from this I do not conclude that heterosexuality is an illness.

On the other hand, in spite of prejudice, there are many homosexuals who are free human beings and who have capacity for love. They are creative and not sorry for themselves. They are never considered when doctors write about homosexuality.

Sexology provided LGBTQ+ contributors and interview subjects an opportunity to speak out emphatically to an audience that was, by nature of the magazine’s existence, likely to be sympathetic or at least open to the diversity of human sexual experiences. In this way, it followed in the footsteps of early sexology researchers like Havelock Ellis and Richard von Krafft-Ebing. As explained by Henry L. Minton in Departing From Deviance, “for many homosexual research participants, the research process became a proactive vehicle for changing public opinion and constructing more empathic and realistic understandings of homosexuality.” Though this research may have still contributed to pathological understandings of queer identity, research participants were able to exercise agency through their participation and testimony.

Article excerpt titled "Why I became a Lesbian" by "E. N." Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 31, No. 8, March 1965, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

What went ‘wrong’ with me? From my point of view, nothing. When I was 19 and a college student, I met a girl nearly my own age with whom I developed an intense friendship. We were happy only when we were together and miserable when we were apart. As soon as we were able to earn our own livings we went to live together and enjoyed our first serious physical contacts. We have loved one another ever since.

It wasn’t just gay and lesbian writers who wrote to Sexology. Transgender contributors were featured, as in the August 1960 issue:

Article excerpt titled "'Sex Change' Operation: The difficult and costly ordeal of surgery is not an 'open sesame' to happiness for the 'female in a male body.'" by Lana. Photo depicts a transgender woman seated in a long flowing dress. Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 27, No. 1, August 1960, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

Many of us, who feel that we are ‘females in a male body,’ are willing to pay whatever price is necessary. For many like myself, the surgery offers an opportunity to emerge from a world of shadow in which there is no possibility of happiness.

Although we cannot bear children, we are as much female as any man could wish, physically and emotionally. Doctors declare us to be women, and the law allows us to become so legally.

Let us hope that, in time, an understanding public will also sympathetically accept us as such.

Despite the ominous introduction—”surgery is not an ‘open sesame’ to happiness”—the article focused on physical recuperation and societal prejudice rather than any sort of psychological distress associated with trans identity, and Lana described herself as having “absolutely no regrets” for pursuing life as a transgender woman. This open and positive tone toward transgender identity makes sense for Sexology; for decades the magazine’s Board of Medical and Sexological Consultants included Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pioneer in gender-affirming surgery for transgender people, who wrote the introduction to Christine Jorgensen’s autobiography.

I’ll leave you with one more article, contributed by Lorynca Rome, from November, 1950:

Article excerpt titled "I'm Glad I'm a Homosexual!" Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 17, No. 4, November 1950, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

I do not feel as if my mind were ‘sick or diseased.’ I do not feel repressed or frustrated nor emotionally starved, nor that I am any of the terrible things that homosexuals are supposed to be. And yet, things have not always been as perfect in my life as I have longed them to be—perhaps they never will be. But I have no regrets, for I have had some of the happiest of moments—days—years. And I am glad that I was born a homosexual!

Through these articles, LGBTQ+ contributors challenged the dominant narrative that queer life was abnormal and unfulfilling. They expressed themselves as individuals comfortable in their identities and without shame. They were, in a very literal sense, celebrating Pride.

Browse the finding aid to the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection.

Explore more materials on the history of LGBTQ+ psychology from the Cummings Center.


References

Jorgensen, C. (1967). Christine Jorgensen: personal autobiography. P. S. Eriksson.

Minton, H. L. (2010). Departing from deviance. University of Chicago Press.

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Contributed by Rose Stull, student assistant.

Gilbert Gottlieb was a research scientist and clinical psychologist.  He was the first graduate student in Duke University’s joint psychology-zoology graduate training program.  At Duke, he became interested in imprinting in waterfowl.  After working at Dorothea Dix Hospital from 1961-1982), Gottlieb became a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (1982-1995).

The Gilbert Gottlieb papers document his career through written works, correspondence, research files, academic files, unpublished experiments, administrative files, photographs, and slides. We are happy to announce that these papers are now available for research at the CCHP.

Gilbert Gottlieb in his office at Dorothea Dix Hospital, undated. Box M6569, Folder 21

Gottlieb researched early social development in different species of precocial birds in the field and in the lab. He is known for his contributions to the fields of developmental science, and his research focused on ducks and their prenatal and postnatal imprinting behaviors.

Ducklings in Broods with Models, audio visual experiment test shots, undated. M6569, Folder 15

The collection contains hundreds of photographs and slides of Gottlieb and his team conducting research in the field and inside his laboratory at the Dorothea Dix hospital. Gottlieb examined the nuances of development, including the idea of critical periods and imprinting. His focus on imprinting involved auditory and visual testing, examining the development of naturalistic imprinting tendencies. This is a small sample of photographs taken from the Gottlieb collection. In the next few weeks, we’re digitizing the photographs and slides and adding them to the CCHP’s online database.

Gottlieb inspecting nest boxes at Dorothea Dix Field Research Station, undated. Box M6569, Folder 20

 

Nest boxes at Dorothea Dix Field Research Station, undated. Box M6569, Folder 3

 

Audio vs. visual Tests, 1966. Box M6569, Folder 4

 

Chick or duck embryo, undated. Box M6569, Folder 10

 

Duckling in Head Holder; 8th Nerve Dissection, undated. Box M6569, Folder 16

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– contributed by Lizette R. Barton (sitness guru).

While rifling through the David Shakow papers I came across a Navy/Marine Corps booklet titled “Shape Up: A New Program of Exercise to Build Fitness Right at Your Desk.”

shakow_m1312_pamphlets_01_wm

Fitness right at my desk? Tell me more.

The news got even better when I opened the booklet and learned a bit more about Isometrics. #1 It’s a science. #2 It’s exercise without movement and #3 it requires just 54 seconds per day. SOLD!

shakow_m1312_pamphlets_02_wm

“Using the nine basic exercises described here, you can work toward physical fitness right at your desk – and in 54 seconds a day.” 

My own enthusiasm led me to believe that my colleagues here at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology might be interested as well. I was right.

02_handpress_sidebyside_wm

Assistant Processing Archivist Emily Gainer demonstrating “The Hand Press”

 

04_neckpresser_sidebyside_wm

Building coordinator Dorothy Gruich demonstrating “The Neck Presser”

05_tummytightner_sidebyside_wm

Assistant Director Dr. Cathy Faye demonstrating the “Tummy Tightener”  (complete with facial expression to really sell it)

06_criss-cross_sidebyside_wm

IHSC curator and instructor Fran Ugalde demonstrating “The Criss-Cross”

07_bodylift_sidebyside_wm

Director Dr. David Baker demonstrating “The Body Lift”

The nine exercises highlighted in “Shape Up” were, “…designed specifically for those individuals in the Navy and Marine Corps whose duties or location restrict their ability to engage in athletic activities or other fitness programs….and those in other sedentary occupations.”

If you have a chair and a desk along with some initiative, pride, and desire maybe it’s time you take your exercise sitting down this year.

New year, new you. Am I right?

shakow_m1312_pamphlets_allnineexercises

David Shakow papers, M1312, folder “Pamphlets”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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-contributed by Arianna Iliff.

As a Graduate Student Assistant here at the CCHP, I get to explore our collections for researchers and find resources to assist them in their research. In the process of doing so, I find some truly interesting gems, and record them in a word document called “Nifty Surprises.” I thought I would share some with you today:

Harrower_SquareDancing_OS67_MapCaseDrawer5

Molly Harrower papers, OS67, map case 5

 

I’ve had the chance to get to know Molly Harrower: not just as a psychologist, but as a person. She was a skilled writer, and throughout the Harrower papers, you can even find snippets of poetry. But did you know that we have her “Bachelor of Square Dancing” degree?

OS67, Map Case 5 (molly's cats 2)

Molly died in 1999. If Molly were alive today, I bet she’d get a huge kick out of internet cat videos–clearly a gal after my own heart. Molly Harrower papers, OS67, map case 5.

How about this lovely chalk drawing of her cat? That’s one thing that I’ve enjoyed about my time here: when you have access to data, manuscripts, and unexpected errata such as this, history becomes more tangible than anything you could read in a textbook.

Maslow_M4413_folder7 (Huxley pamphlet)

I wish my favorite author would send me an autographed pamphlet. I’m not bitter though. Abraham Maslow Papers, box M4413, folder 7.

Finding this gem made my jaw drop: “THE Aldous Huxley? Sci-fi writer extraordinaire?” Oh yes! Abe Maslow and Aldous Huxley were indeed friends, due to their mutual interest in peak experiences and the Human Potential Movement. Interestingly, one of my favorite family therapists, Virginia Satir, was also a part of the movement!

V37_folder 2 (furiosa and max)

 Henry H. Goddard papers, V37, folder 2.

Stay with me on this one: okay, have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? You know that scene where Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa aims a shot off of Max’s shoulder? My first thought when I found this image in the Goddard Papers was of exactly that!

Unfortunately, this image is not labeled with names or any such identifiers, and we don’t know who these people were in relation to Goddard. So when I think of this image, I just think of it as “that picture of early 20th century Max and Furiosa.”

V35_folder6 (D Johannsen, M Crook, R Leeper, Bony)

Three grad students, studying at a table with a model human skeleton. Caption: Caption on reverse states “graduate student life at Clark,” listing the names Dorothea Johannsen (Crook), Mason N. Crook, Robert W. Leeper, and Bony. AHAP Still Images collection, V35, folder 6.

When I came across this photo in our photo archives, I think that as a second-semester graduate student, I related to Bony the skeleton on a spiritual level. I felt that this photo needed a hilarious caption, such as “I’m coping with the workload just fine,” or “finals week is a real killer,” or perhaps ”I choose the sweet embrace of death over one more day in this program.”

On a serious note, I’ll say this: as an undergraduate, I chose studying sociology over psychology because for some reason, the sociological perspective was easier for me to connect with. However, since I’ve been working at the CCHP, I’ve had the opportunity to physically touch history, learning while helping others learn. Most people are surprised when I tell them the only place like this in the world is in Akron, but the fact of the matter is that the famous psychologists we learn about in 100-level classes, or whose research we draw upon, are more than just vague, long-deceased monoliths, but human beings who lived, worked, and thought. It excites me tremendously that you, too could experience history like I have, once our museum re-opens to the public. I hope you’ll stop on by!

 

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– contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

April is National Poetry Month.  In recognition of all of those terrible poems you wrote in high school, and in honor of armchair poets everywhere, CCHP is posting a blog about creativity.

with painted clothes upon a bridge, she was not iodined with garnishes; those

passing there, seared and grotesque.  did she jump, or wail, or swing on other

clothes?  did she spread her teeth inventing whistles for the quaying bikes, or

stiff snouters turned in grey?  she did not, nor did she cow or pace about in

ruins, or tray her hiked up shoes more nearly like galosh or spidern heels she

cut among the grass.

[Excerpt from untitled poem written by ‘Larry’ (Laurence d’A. M. Glass), from the Silvan Tomkins papers, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology]

What makes “good” poetry, and how do you know when you see it?  Can poetry be judged on simple merits of being good or bad?

Whether the above poem elicits provocative imagery or just annoys the reader with a bunch of made-up words and awkward sentence structure (the spellcheck was practically shouting at me while typing), we can probably agree that something creative like poetry is indeed quite subjective.  And like other creative endeavors, writing poetry is an intensely personal act.  But so is reading it.  The exact elements of Glass’s poem that make us appreciate it or shrink from it, are creativity in action.  No rules.  No inhibitions.  As Dan Wieden so famously (and creatively) proclaimed for Nike, “Just do it.”

Plenty of CCHP collections possess poetry written by psychologists; still others contain poems from colleagues and family members, like this one from the L. Joseph Stone papers about adolescence, from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

If poetry is subjective and arcane, why would we attempt to judge it by a simple scale of good or bad?  Or by a right way or wrong way of writing it?  Maybe it’s an attempt to make the unscientific more scientific.  Perhaps the more pressing question is, should we judge it from those perspectives at all?

Two professors – one of education and one of English – developed “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry” in 1921, to assist students in acquiring an “increased ability to tell good [poetry] from bad, and increase preference for the good”.  To do this, original poems were sampled, accompanied by sets of varying versions of the original that represented sentimental, prosaic, and metrical forms of writing.  From there, it was simply a “which do you prefer?” choice.  Similarly, “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry”, a test developed by Rewey Belle Inglis, asks students to determine prevailing emotions of various poems from a given set of emotions.

Test preamble and sample poem for “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry (Exercises in Judging Poetry)” by Allan Abbott and M. R. Trabue, 1921; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

 

Test page from “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry” from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

But making constrained decisions about something that is personal and subjective from pre-selected lists and writing samples feels a little restrictive.

Instead of right and wrong answers, or answers that are compared to regulated determinates, tests like “The Symbolic Equivalents Test”, allow for more fluctuation in the answers.  Rather than judging one’s ability to recognize the good and the bad from staid lists, the test-taker is asked to think of his or her own ways to answer each sample.  Answers might feel less like straight answers, and more like cleverness and ingenuity.  Indeed, creative writing (in the form of poetry or prose) should feel this way.

“The Symbolic Equivalents Test” with some imaginative notes, from the Frank X. Barron papers; Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Elizabeth Starkweather conducted research on the subject of creativity, particularly in school children.  She describes creativity as something that cannot be coerced, and in order to take place, it must happen in an environment of free expression without inhibition.

Excerpt from a paper on creativity by Elizabeth Starkweather; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Special Interest Collection

Whether taking a test on one’s own abilities or judging others’ creative abilities, we might be wise to ruminate on the ideas posed by Starkweather, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and others who recognized that creativity has a lot to with the act and less to do with judging other creators’ works.  Think, too, about how the act of creating serves an important purpose in those self-actualization theories.  Your poems may get published, you may get recognized for being a great talent; but probably not.  Write them anyway.  In the mechanized grind of life, creativity helps us to feel human.

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Contributed by Emily Gainer.

Which psychologist would have letters from Paul Newman, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and E.B. White?  Frank Barron, whose work included creativity research, collected these letters (and more).  The Frank X. Barron papers are now available for research at the CCHP.

Frank X. Barron, 1969. Box M5404, Folder 16

Frank X. Barron, 1969. (Box M5404, Folder 16)

Francis Xavier Barron (1922-2002) was a psychologist with a specialization in creativity research. He developed standardized tests to measure the characteristics of a creative person. These tests included the Inventory of Personal Philosophy, the Ego-Strength Scale, and the Barron-Walsh Art Scale. Barron’s major publications include Creativity and Psychological Health: Origins of Personal Vitality and Creative Freedom, Creativity and Personal Freedom, and Creative Person and Creative Process.

The Frank X. Barron papers, which contain 94 boxes of archival materials, include biographical files, correspondence, administrative files, teaching files, tests, research files, and written works. The files document Barron’s wide variety of research interests, including creativity, twins, nuclear war, and artists.

Of special note are the files relating to Barron’s creative writers study (1957-1958). In this study, Barron interviewed and tested numerous notable writers, including Truman Capote and Normal Mailer. Some files are restricted.

Author E.B. White's response to Frank X. Barron's invitation to participate in a creative writers study (1957). Box M5422, Folder 11

Author E.B. White’s response to Frank X. Barron’s invitation to participate in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 11)

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote's participation in a creative writers study, 1957. Box M5422, Folder 7

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote’s participation in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 7)

The Written Works series includes published and unpublished works, including unpublished notes and drafts of “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” and “A Baby Named Death”. Both were autobiographical works; “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” was a memoir of Barron’s relationship with Timothy Leary.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view the manuscript materials.

 

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Contributed by Jon Endres

In my job as the main media digitization person here at the Cummings Center, I have the opportunity to hear and see things that sometimes have not been seen or heard in decades or longer. This is one of my favorite aspects of the job – outside of being able to actively do a service for the study of history – and sometimes we find things that we did not know we had, or even existed.

My most recent project involved digitizing audio recordings from wire spools. On these spools,  Dr. David Pablo Boder recorded fascinating things, from interviews with people displaced by the 1951 Kansas City Flood to speeches and radio programs.

IMG_1120.JPGThe three boxes of spools in the AHAP collection

Boder’s most famous work was done in 1946 when he traveled across Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland and collected interviews with displaced persons–many of them Holocaust survivors–in the aftermath of World War II. Most of the recordings were uncovered in the late 1990s between the Library of Congress and the Illinois Institute of Technology, spurring much interest in Boder’s work.

Boder off trainFrom a 16mm film of Boder in Germany

There was one wire spool that was never found, being referenced in his work but not found in the various Boder collections. This spool was of Jewish songs from a displaced persons camp in Henonville, France.

As I went through the three boxes of spools that we have at the archives I began to take stock of what we knew we had on spools versus what we had no idea about. Among these “confused” wire spools was the one below.

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The spool above had been erroneously entered into the finding aid as “Heroville Songs” when the collection was originally processed in the 1960s. It did not take me long to realize that the tin says “Henonville? Songs.” But this was no guarantee that this was the content on the spool. Even the tin itself seemed a bit unsure about its own content.

It took me a few days to get comfortable enough with the medium to put the Henonville Songs on to digitize – these are very fragile and I did not want to risk destroying history – but when I did I was blown away.

These are the missing songs Boder recorded from those survivors, recorded more than 60 years ago. The feeling of knowing what I had found and the understanding that I was  listening to something few before me had heard was a very different and personal thing for me. It felt like I was helping in some way to bring these voices to the present, voices that had become somewhat lost to the historical record.

The discovery of this single canister holding a lost recording means that  these songs can be heard again, they can be studied, and they can inform us in a new way about the experiences, the joys, and the frustrations of these displaced persons.

Below are several samples from the Henonville Songs spool. Please give them a listen, they’ve been waiting a long time.

Dr. Boder’s Introduction: Song Clip 1:Song Clip 2:Song Clip 3:

[Note: If you’re interested in hearing or using Boder’s work for research, please contact us at ahap@uakron.edu.]

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– contributed by Cate Conley, Museums & Archives Certificate student.

 

“We shape our buildings, therefore they shape us.” – Winston Churchill

 

When looking at the buildings that make up The University of Akron, most people will immediately recognize the newer structures on campus, such as Infocision Stadium, the Student Union, Stile Athletics Field House, and the new dorms.  But, not many people think of the buildings that existed on campus before they were considered University property and their roles in shaping not only The University of Akron, but the community of Akron, Ohio as a whole.  As students, faculty, and staff at the University or as members of the community, we have an obligation to ourselves and to those who have yet to experience Akron, to participate in the discussion of what shapes us… what shapes our city.

On May 7, 2016 from 3-5pm students will hold an opening reception to unveil an exhibit within the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Special Collections showcase titled The University of Akron Repurposes Akron History: Polsky’s, Quaker Square, Roadway, & St. Paul’s. The exhibition highlights the significance and value of these buildings to the University, the community, and Akron’s history. The exhibition opening is free to the public, so come visit and tell us what you think! We ask you to participate in the conversation of preservation  and the adaptive reuse of these historical buildings.  Their continued use and/or demolition shapes our future not just as students, but as members of this community.

This exhibit opens during with May’s Akron Art Walk and will be available for viewing during the Akron-Summit County Public Library, Main Library (60 S. High Street, Akron, OH 44326) from May 7 through August 21, 2016. You can visit during regular library hours.

[This exhibit is designed and installed by students participating in the Museums and Archives certificate program run by the Institute of Human Science and Culture (IHSC) at the Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CCHP). For more information about enrolling in the program, please contact Dr. Jodi Kearns, jkearns@uakron.edu.]

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