Center for the History of Psychology

Exciting Developments in Akron, Ohio

I finally had an opportunity to get down to see the new building where the Center for the History of Psychology has opened in Akron, Ohio! The Center is the expansion of the Archives of the History of Psychology which was held until this past August in the basement of one of the University of Akron‘s buildings.

The new location is a beautiful old brick building that dates to 1915. Thus far the Center occupies the basement and first floor of the building with plans to continue to expand to the three additional upper floors in the upcoming years. A museum featuring some of the highlights from the collection is open to the public on the first floor. The displays include apparatus from various areas within psychology, as well as artifacts and photographs from some of the most famous experiments in psychology’s history: the Bandura Bobo doll, Milgram’s “shock box”, the IQ zoo, the Clarks’ doll experiment, the Stanford prison experiment, Skinner’s air crib, and more. I was also particularly pleased to see the inclusion of asylum history with a letter from Thomas Story Kirkbride, maps, drawings, and a magneto-electric machine.

Sitting in the new reading room (pictured left) was a whole different experience from the old basement room as well (which I had always thought was great). I requested some boxes from a few women who earned their degrees in psychology at the University of Toronto in the 1930s for a project I’m involved with on the history of female psychologists in Canada (an outgrowth of the Feminist Voices project). I hadn’t actually expected to find anything relevant and was pleasantly surprised – I found comments from two of the women about their early training in Canada as well as the student papers and exams from another! 

Another great surprise was a tour from the director of the Center, Dr. David Baker, which included a ride on their freight elevator to the basement storage and the unfinished upper floors. Seeing the upper floors (pictured bottom right) really helped to give an idea of just how much work has been done to get those floors that are open ready!

While we could only spare a day for the trip, we were able to pack a lot in – now I just need to work out a time to get back again!

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