APA turning its back on history

The American Psychological Association (APA)’s 117th annual convention wrapped up yesterday in Toronto, Canada. The Society for the History of Psychology (SHP), APA’s Division 26, put on a full and engaging program of 39 sessions over the four days which culminated with APA Council bestowing upon Dr. Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. a presidential citation in recognition of his contributions to the discipline. But a decision by APA council just before noon on Sunday would put a damper on the mood of the whole event: they have decided to cut their annual contribution to the Archives for the History of American Psychology (AHAP) from $60,000 annually to $30,000 this year and $20,000 next year. This decision was made against the recommendations by many on council who stood to speak up against such a significant budget cut to an archives that counts among its collection the papers of many past APA presidents and APA divisions.

These actions by the APA are extremely disappointing. I would go so far as to say that from the point of view of a graduate student in the history of psychology, they are discouraging. AHAP is the only archives dedicated to psychology in North America and serves as a valuable resource to all who are interested in the discipline’s history. I contacted David Baker, director of AHAP, who replied that “It is indeed disappointing that the Executive Management Group and the Board of Directors fail to see the value of our shared past.”

I hope you will join me in (1) writing to APA Council of Representatives in protest of this decision and (2) donating to AHAP to show our support of the work they do for the discipline.

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About Jennifer Bazar

Jennifer Bazar is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Her research focuses on the history of psychiatric institutionalization.

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