“The Long and Winding Road: 125 years of the American Psychological Association”

Having just wrapped up the convention celebrating the 125th anniversary of the American Psychological Association, this is a good time to reflect back on the the association’s history. John Greenwood does just that in a new piece in Behavioral Scientist:

It began humbly enough. In 1892, Granville Stanley Hall, professor of psychology and president of Clark University, invited 26 American psychologists to join him in forming a psychological association. A dozen invitees attended the first organizational meeting, in Hall’s office, on July 8, 1892. There, they founded the American Psychological Association. The participants learned that many psychologists who could not attend the meeting, such as John Dewey and Lightner Witmer, had agreed to join, and they selected two psychologists who had not been originally invited, Hugo Münsterberg of Harvard and Edward Titchener of Cornell. They elected Hall as the first president and scheduled their first meeting, at the University of Pennsylvania, for December of that year.

….

From its inception, membership in the APA was inclusive, at least with respect to religion and gender. The charter members included Edward Pace, a Catholic, and Joseph Jastrow, a Jew, who devised conventions for reporting that evolved into APA style. Two women, Mary Calkins and Christine Ladd-Franklin, were elected members in 1893.

But membership did not guarantee equal standing. Calkins studied at Harvard under James and Münsterberg, who judged her dissertation on learned paired associates to be the best produced in the Department of Philosophy. Yet Harvard declined to award her a degree because Harvard did not then grant degrees to women. Calkins went on to found her own laboratory and psychology program at Wellesley College. She became the first woman elected to the American Psychological Association (1905) and to the American Philosophical Association (1918). (In 1902 Harvard grudgingly offered her a degree from Radcliffe College, which she declined as “second-best.”)

Read the full piece here.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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