Category Archives: News

Music from the Asylum

As the old adage goes, there is more than one way to share  history. A new project that takes this idea to heart will be made available to the public next week. The Telegraph has reported that Edward Elgar’s “Music for Powick Asylum” will be available from Somm Recordings on March 3rd, 2014 (a book of the written music is already available).

Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar (1857–1934) was an English composer who, at the age of 22, was conductor of the attendants’ band at the Worcester and County Lunatic Asylum in Powick, England. In this role, he reportedly both coached his fellow musicians and wrote the music they played.  As was commonly practiced during the period, the institution’s resident physician, James Sherlock, encouraged these musical performances as part of the Friday night dances that were held for patients.

The music written by Elgar for the Asylum band between 1879 and 1884 was forgotten until it was re-discovered by contemporary British conductor Barry Collett. First re-played for the closing of the institution in 1988, the collection has now been recorded by the Innovation Chamber Ensemble. In describing the music, The Telegraph quotes Collett as saying “Some are quirky, some are foot-tapping and some are full of grace. I love them all.”

Personally, one of the reasons I am so fascinated with this project is the auditory experience that it provides of the historical record. This recording brings to life the “sounds of the asylum” – or at least those that were heard on Friday nights. Dolly MacKinnon, of the University of Queensland, has written about the importance of the historical soundscape of asylums and the Elgar project provides an opportunity for contemporary listeners to glimpse into this auditory world. Needless to say, I have already ordered a copy of the album.

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New HOP Journal: European Yearbook of the History of Psychology

A new peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the history of psychology is coming our way in 2014! The journal will be edited by Mauro Antonelli, professor of psychology at the Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca in Italy.

The announcement making its rounds on listservs describes the scope of the new journal:

The European Yearbook of the History of Psychology will be a peer-reviewed international journal devoted to the history of psychology, and especially to the interconnections between historiographic survey and problems of epistemology. The Journal will welcome contributions that offer precise reconstructions of specific moments, topics, and people in the history of psychology via the recovery and critical analysis of archival as well as published sources. Critical editions of relevant primary texts or archival sources will be welcome. Research papers should be preferably in English, while the critical edition of texts may also be in French, German, and Italian. The national traditions in Europe will be respected not only in their own right and in their interrelations, but also in their further connection to and confrontation with non-European research traditions. With this focus, the Journal aims at uncovering paths to aid the understanding of the common and of the specific roots of European scientific thought, and its building connections with non-European traditions.

With an eye on the interdisciplinary nature of cultural studies, the Journal will pay special attention to those common areas between psychological research and its adjacent disciplines, in particular the human and the life sciences (philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychiatry, physiology, neurology, biology, zoology, etc.).

Aimed primarily at historians and philosophers of psychology, epistemologists, historians of philosophy, and historians of human sciences, the Journal will also be open to contributions from all areas of psychology that address a phenomenon or topic of interest in psychology from a historical perspective and/or with an epistemological approach.

Besides original essays, the Journal will encompass the following sections: Unpublished and archival material; Discussions (a space where authors can confront one another and discuss specific topics); Interviews; Book reviews and reading recommendations.

H/T to Cathy Faye (@CLFaye)

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In Memoriam, John Popplestone (1928-2013)

We here at AHP are saddened by the news of the passing of John Popplestone on September 15, 2013. Popplestone, along with his wife Marion McPherson White, founded the Archives of the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio in 1965. He served as its original director until retiring in 1999. Popplestone has left behind one of the most pre-eminent collections dedicated to the history of psychology for many generations to come.

In his honour, the Center for the History of Psychology (which today encompasses the Archives), has recently posted a series of photographs from their founder’s past and we invite you to visit their site.

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New AHP Series: Inside the Digital History of Psychology

Starting tomorrow, Advances in the History of Psychology will begin running a special series of posts related to work on the digital history of psychology. As you may be aware, the blog is based out of the History and Theory of psychology program at York University. Many of the blog’s contributors are also members of the institution’s PsyBorgs Lab, a research collective  dedicated to undertaking research on the discipline’s past using the methods of the digital humanities. The research group is headed by professors Christopher Green and Michael Pettit. More information on the group’s members can be found here. In the weeks and months to come we’ll provide you with an inside look at some of this work, including both its methods and results.  Expect to see regular posts on this work the first Tuesday of each month, with a few bonus posts sprinkled in between.

Visit us tomorrow for the first of these posts: a discussion of networking the discipline’s non-human research organisms by Michael Pettit.

The full series of posts can be found here.

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Call for Nominations: History of Psychology Journal Editor

History of Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association, has issued a call for nominations for journal editor. David Dunning, PhD has been appointed chair of the search. The nomination deadline is January 11, 2014 and the candidates should be prepared to start receiving manuscripts in 2015. The journal is described as,

History of Psychology features refereed articles addressing all aspects of psychology’s past and of its interrelationship with the many contexts within which it has emerged and has been practiced. It also publishes scholarly work in closely related areas, such as historical psychology (the history of consciousness and behavior), psychohistory, theory in psychology as it pertains to history, historiography, biography and autobiography, the teaching of the history of psychology, and data mining regarding the history of psychology.

Details of the nomination procedure follow below.

Candidates should be members of APA and should be available to start receiving manuscripts in early 2015 to prepare for issues published in 2016. Please note that the P&C Board encourages participation by members of underrepresented groups in the publication process and would particularly welcome such nominees. Self-nominations are also encouraged.

Nominate candidates through APA’s EditorQuest website.

Prepared statements of one page or less in support of a nominee can also be submitted by email to Sarah Wiederkehr, P&C Board Search Liaison.

Deadline for accepting nominations is January 11, 2014, when reviews will begin.

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Visiting Robbers Cave: A History of Psychology Roadtrip

Robbers Cave signThis is a special post co-authored by Jacy Young and Jennifer Bazar and published simultaneously at both the Advances in the History of Psychology (AHP) and FieldNotes blogs.

This June, following a successful Cheiron meeting in Dallas, Texas two of AHP’s bloggers (Jacy Young and Jennifer Bazar, the latter also of FieldNotes) along with Kelli Vaughn-Johnson traveled to Robbers Cave State Park in Southeast Oklahoma. Our goal was to track down the Boy Scouts camp used as the site of the now infamous 1954 Robbers Cave experiment and see what remains nearly 60 years later.

In the summer of 1954 psychologist Muzafer Sherif, along with a group of research assistants posing as camp personnel, brought a group of twenty-two eleven and twelve year old boys to Camp Tom Hale in Robbers Cave State Park. The goal of this study, like the two conducted before it in Connecticut and New York State, was to induce and observe intergroup conflict and cooperation. To do so, Sherif and his colleagues instituted a three stage plan. In stage one, the boys were split into two groups (eventually known as the Eagles and the Rattlers) and encouraged to form strong in-groups. Stage two involved initiating competition between the groups through a tournament that saw the the Eagles and Rattlers compete in activities such as baseball and tug-o-war (not to mention various acts of sabotage by the researchers). Once the groups were sufficiently hostile toward each other (coming to refer to those in the other group as “stinkers,” “braggers,” and “sissies,”) the third and final stage was initiated. The aim of this stage was to reduce conflict between the  groups. This was done by introducing superordinate goals, which could only be achieved if both groups worked together. These goals included restoring the water supply to the camp and moving the broken down camp truck.

Although conducted on a relatively small scale, Sherif intended the study to have far reaching consequences. It is was his hope that in experimentally inducing both intergroup conflict and cooperation a better understanding of the roots of prejudice and discrimination would be achieved and, more importantly, that insight into ameliorating both would result. Conducted in the post-war era, the Robbers Cave study was an attempt to put psychology to work in the service of world peace. You can read the full account of the study in Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment by Muzafer Sherif, O. J. Harvey, B. Jack White, William R. Hood, and Carolyn W. Sherif.

On the day we visited Robbers Cave the temperature was – as our luck would have it – just shy of a thousand degrees. Despite the heat, we perserved in our goal of tracking down what remained of the 1954 camp, using Sherif’s map of the experiment site (below, numbers in red our addition) as our guide. To be fair, this undertaking it not completely original. In 2012 Gene Perry and Gina Perry (no relation), traveled to Robbers Cave for much the same purpose (you can read an account of that trip here). Unfortunately, according to our reconstruction of the site, the one cabin featured in their story was not in fact used as part of Sherif’s Robbers Cave study.

After hiking up and around Robbers Cave itself (1), and visiting the Stone Corral (2), we made our way past a parking lot and through a field to explore a series of buildings. Although the campsite was occupied, the family renting it out was nice enough to allow us to poke around a bit as we tried to reconstruct the layout of 1954 campsite. Below, numbered to correspond with Sherif’s map, are the buildings and locations we were able to identify. Where possible we’ve paired photographs from the original study with images of the camp today. By far our favourite pairing is the Rattler cabin past and present (4), where the stone facade from 1954 clearly matches that of the cabin as it stands today (although the windows appear to have been changed over the years). Altogether we were able to track down nine locations, including both the Eagle (7) and Rattler cabins, as well as the dock (8) and dam (9). Not wanting to travel too far off the beaten path, and more than a little warm by this point, we skipped venturing past Robbers Cave in search of the Water Tank, Pump House, and Reservoir. During our hunt we saw no sign of the Upper Camp or Athletic Field, but were admittedly overheated and slightly cranky by the end so did not put as much effort into this search as we might have otherwise. The lure of an air conditioned car was strong. On the plus side, we have a great excuse for planning a return trip one day – just preferably at a cooler time of year.

Scroll through below to see all our photographs of the Robbers Cave site. All photographs from the 1954 experiment are taken from Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment.

robbers cave map_legend

Robbers Cave

Robbers Cave

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Congrats Society for the History of Psych Award Winners!

Congratulations to the Society for the History of Psychology‘s 2013 award winners: Saulo de Freitas Araujo (left), Joshua Clegg (right), Jill Morawski (centre), and Graham Richards! Freitas Araujo and Clegg have been awarded the Society’s Early Career Award, while Morawski and Richards are recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards will be officially conferred during the Society’s programming at the American Psychological Association‘s Annual Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 31st-August 4th. The Society’s convention programming can be found online here.

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Roger Barker and Oskaloosa, Kansas as Laboratory

AHP readers interested in the history of ecological and environmental psychology will be interested in a recent piece in Harper’s Magazine (unfortunately accessible in full only to subscribers). In “Our Town: How Roger Barker made Oskaloosa, Kansas, His Laboratory” writer Ariel Sabar describes Barker’s Oskaloosa based “behavior settings” research. He also tracks down one of his research participants, Raymond, the title character of Barker’s study One Boy’s Day. As Sabar describes,

Not long after moving to Oskaloosa, a town of 725 people in the hills of northeastern Kansas, Roger Barker, the new chair of the psychology department at the University of Kansas, approached a young couple who lived near him with a request: Might a group of researchers follow their seven-year-old son around for a day, documenting the boy’s every word and movement?

Jack Birch, a salesman at the town hardware store, and his wife, Joan, a clerk at the county courthouse, said yes, and on April 26, 1949, eight observers with timers and clipboards, working in half-hour shifts, assembled a minute-by-minute account of an ordinary day in the life of Raymond Birch.

Harper & Row published the report in 1951 as One Boy’s Day. An editor of The New York Times Magazine found the book interesting enough to pay Oskaloosa a visit. In an August 1951 article she rhapsodized about how Barker and his colleagues “brought child psychology out of the laboratory to study children in their natural habitat, much as a botanist goes into the fields to study flowers.” Townspeople knew the good that came from agricultural research stations, so they accepted “the idea that perhaps some day as much can be known about raising children as raising corn.”

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The Expert: A Novel Based on the Life of Rosalie Rayner

Author Andromeda Romano-Lax has crowd funded, through USA Projects, a book in progress on the life of Rosalie Rayner (left). Tentatively titled The Expert, Romano-Lax’s the novel will be a fictionalized account of Rayner’s short life (1899-1935). Most famously, Rayner was John Watson’s graduate student assistant during the Little Albert study. Following a scandal caused by their affair, while Watson was married to someone else, they married and had two children.

As described on the project’s now closed fundraising site,

He was the founder of behaviorism and the most influential American psychologist of his day—a famous parenting “expert” who counseled mothers never to kiss or cuddle their children, and who went on to apply behaviorist principles to Madison Avenue advertising. She was the 19-year-old graduate student who assisted his research—and within a year, found her own career derailed when their steamy affair made front-page news in the East Coast newspapers.

John Watson is well known in psychology circles, but his second wife, Rosalie Rayner, the narrator of this based-on-real-events novel, is known mostly as a textbook footnote—a woman involved in scandal who retreated from her own career ambitions to support her larger-than-life, controversial husband before dying at the tragically young age of 35. Rayner’s own little-known story (informed by the stories of other women psychologists and professionals of the same time period) aims to shed light on the life of a 1920s Vassar-educated woman and mother, part of a post-suffragette, interwar, Jazz Age generation that looked to science, technology, and corporate slogans for expert answers on how to live.

….I will use project funds to continue the first phase of research (which began with a visit to Baltimore MD, Washington DC, and Poughkeepsie NY and continues with ongoing follow-up historical research) necessary to write dramatically about a woman of cultural and scientific significance who left almost no paper trail. It would be easier to write about her famous husband, but it is the little-known quality of Rosalie’s life – and the story of forgotten women like her – that draws me to this project. To recreate Rosalie Rayner’s life, I will continue to seek out scarce primary sources on Rayner, visit places that were formative to her development, and also continue to learn more about women psychologists and Baltimore life from 1900 to the mid-1930s.

Although this crowd funded project is a literary endeavour — one that just happens to overlap with the history of psychology — this kind of funding initiative raises questions about the future of funding for historical work more generally. What role, if any, will crowd funding have in future research in the history of psychology?

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Call for Papers Psicologia em Pesquisa


The Brazilian journal Psicologia em Pesquisa has issued a call for papers for a special issue dedicated to the history of psychology. The issue will be edited by Annette Mülberger (left) and Sérgio Cirino (right). Submissions, in English, Spanish or Portuguese, are due by July 31, 2013. The full call for papers follows below.

Psicologia em Pesquisa, a Brazilian journal edited by the Graduate Program in Psychology of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, is preparing, together with the Working Group on the History of Psychology of the ANPEPP (Brazilian National Association of Graduate Training in Psychology), a Special International Issue dedicated to the History of Psychology. The Guest Editors are Sérgio Cirino (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and Annette Mülberger (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Paper manuscript submissions are encouraged with a focus on topics related to the broad field of the history of psychology, including theoretical and methodological discussions, empirical studies and literature reviews. Manuscripts should follow the general guidelines of the APA (American Psychological Association, Publication Manual, 5th ed., Washington, DC) and cannot exceed 30 double-spaced pages (including references). For more details, see our website: http://www.ufjf.br/psicologiaempesquisa/1632-2/

Manuscripts can be submitted in English, Spanish or Portuguese to revista.psicologiaempesquisa@ufjf.edu.br.

The deadline for the submission of manuscripts to this special issue is July 31, 2013.

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