By Lizette Royer, MLIS, Senior Archives Associate
The Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) on The University of Akron campus officially opened its doors to the public on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. The Center includes a self‐guided gallery of some of psychology’s most important artifacts including a Bobo Doll that Albert Bandura used during his research on aggression and the Simulated Shock Generator that Stanley Milgram used during his studies on obedience in the 1960s. Visitors can view artifacts from the IQ Zoo, a roadside attraction created by psychologists (and students of BF Skinner) Keller Breland and Marion Breland Bailey. The IQ Zoo featured animals trained using behavioral principles that performed a variety of tasks including a duck that played piano and a chicken that played tic‐tac‐toe. Also on display are artifacts from Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment and numerous items related to the history of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness and the role psychology has played in the military.
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The Center also includes the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) which houses the personal papers and manuscripts of over 700 psychologists. In addition, the AHAP houses numerous organizational records, photographs and moving images, audio records, a large collection of psychological instruments and apparatus, a rare book collection, and a collection of psychological textbooks from throughout the discipline’s history.
AHAP was founded in 1965 at The University of Akron by Drs. John A. Popplestone and Marion White McPherson, professors in the university’s psychology department. AHAP started out small but has grown to become the largest archival collection of psychological materials in the world. AHAP became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2002 and with generous gifts and donations was able to begin renovations on an existing structure in February 2010. Phase 1 of the construction project was completed in August and includes the gallery, reading room, offices, and storage space for collections on the first floor and basement of a four story building at the corners of College Street and Mill Street on The University of Akron campus.
Recent projects of interest include an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded American Heritage Preservation grant for conservation work on two of the AHAP’s most unique books, Harriet Beecher’s Elements of Moral and Mental Philosophy, which is thought to be the first psychology book written by an American woman and a second London imprint of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. CHP is also in the midst of applying for another IMLS grant for conservation work on Pliny the Elder’s (1601) Natural Historie which is the first English translation of the work and the oldest English‐language book in the AHAP’s collection. The Intermuseum Conservation Association in Cleveland is doing the conservation work.
The University of Akron’s Archival Services applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions in 2005. Their 2006 preservation assessment came in under budget and they opted to share the remainder of the grant with AHAP. Their generosity allowed for conservation work to be done on two seminal works in the AHAP collection: Thomas Hobbes’ (1651) Leviathan and the original galley proofs for BF Skinner’s (1938) Behavior of Organisms. Conservation work was under the care of the Etherington Conservation Group, a divisionof the HF Group.
CHP continues to work with the American Psychological Association (APA) on a large-scale scanning project that includes the digitization of thousands of public domain documents including nearly 2,000 books; 15,000 items from AHAP’s “special interest” collection which includes U.S. military technical reports, government documents, and conference proceedings and programs; and hundreds of paper and pencil tests. The digitized materials are available through APA’s PsycNet database and CHP retains the digital files on‐site for research use.
The Center for the History of Psychology is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm. The reading room is open to researchers Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm by appointment.