Posts Tagged ‘Staff Picks’

– 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.


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?



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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-Contributed by Adam Beckler.

We are now receiving Book of the Month contributions from students and interns! Adam Beckler is an undergraduate student assistant with Reference & Digital Projects. He is a Junior at the University of Akron studying Political Science and History.

BOOK: Leviathan, or the matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill by Thomas Hobbes (1651)

What makes authority possible?

This is the question that Thomas Hobbes set out to answer when he wrote Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civill. Having lived through the English Civil War, Hobbes did not write in a political vacuum. England’s national struggle over who had the right to rule resulted in the beheading of King Charles I and served as the impetus for the publication of Leviathan. The Center for the History of Psychology has a rare, genuine first issue of Leviathan, published in London in 1651. The authenticity of this first issue can be told by the woodcut ornament on the title page, which consists of a winged head and pots of flowers.

Leviathan Title Page

Leviathan Title Page

Leviathan is one of the most influential works in the history of political philosophy. Hobbes imagined a hypothetical state of nature in which there is relative equality among mankind. Hobbes took a materialistic view of human psychology. He believed that human beings are mechanical, operating according to scientific laws of physics and predictable desires. If equal men desire something which cannot be mutually enjoyed, these men will become enemies. Without the presence of a power higher than the individual, nature is a war of “every man, against every man.” In arguably the most famous passage of Leviathan, Hobbes describes man’s life in nature as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"

“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”

Hobbes suggests that to avoid a war of all against all, men will form a contract with each other to establish a civil society. This “social contract” vests authority in a powerful sovereign, or “Leviathan.”

The Leviathan

The Leviathan

According to Hobbes, men give up freedom to commit violence in order to gain protection from violence. This is the nature of political authority.

As a student of political science and history, I have studied Leviathan in multiple classes. That it is still studied on its own merits and not as a historical document is a testament to the intellectual legacy of Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan is significant to me because it represents an early attempt to answer fundamental questions about mankind and the civil society that we take for granted. While the answers will not satisfy everyone, simply thinking about these questions can make us collectively better off.

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– contributed by Jodi Kearns.

Book of the Month is starting a new feature: Staff Picks!  Each month, a CHP staff member will select a book from the collection.  This month’s selection is by Dr. Jodi Kearns, Digital Projects Manager.

BOOK: An Atlas of Infant Behavior: A Systematic Delineation of the Forms of Early Growth of Human Behavior Patterns by Arnold Gesell, (1934) 2 volumes.

The CHP houses an estimated 13,000 reels of film; roughly one third of these are part of the Child Development Film Archives.


Among the CDFA films are reels of raw footage from Arnold Gesell’s research from as early as the 1910s when he was filming infants and children performing tasks that hadn’t previously been captured as moving images. Tasks filmed represent stages of development, such as an infant rolling from front to back, using a spoon to feed himself, playing with blocks, or kicking his legs in bath.

By no small stretch of the imagination, one can figure that multiple copies of reels of 35mm film and projectors to play them on were not immediately available for use by those studying child development and infant behavior in 1930s America. The Atlas of Infant Behavior was created to bring observable, sequenced movements to studies in child development.


In the Atlas prefatory summary, Gesell describes the statistical processes by which he and his team objectively selected still frames from the hours of moving images to use as representative of the complete sequence of infant movements.


The research team’s final selections provided students of child development with “patterned organization of the movements” so that students need not have access to the actual films in order to observe “developmental sequences of infant behaviors.”


Today, we would call Gesell’s statistical and objective cinema analysis keyframe analyses, which have been accomplished by computers for several decades for the purposes of using structural compositions of the film’s data stream itself in order to determine keyframes that could be used to represent whole films in information retrieval systems.

This two-volume atlas of child development is my pick for CHP’s Book of the Month because it offers a brilliant example of 100-year-old methods of film analysis and generous information overlap between the history of psychology and my own field, Information Science.

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