History of psychology boost in US

Ella Rhodes reports.

An American university recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the establishment of a National Museum of Psychology. The University of Akron in Ohio is looking to raise $250,000, which will cover the cost of developing and placing the museum into the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

The Center for History of Psychology currently exhibits the home movies of Sigmund Freud, apparatus from many of the most famous psychological studies in American history, including the Stanford Prison Experiment, correspondence from celebrated psychologists and historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Houdini and Helen Keller (above) and 50,000 books, some dating to the 16th century.

A spokesperson for the university said in a statement: ‘The Cummings Center was founded in 1965 as the Archives of the History of American Psychology, and renamed in 2009 to recognize the generous support of Drs Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings. Their monumental gift allowed for renovations of the space for the museum, a new reading room, and a library. We are dedicated to preserving, organizing, and documenting the historical record of psychology and making it available for research, scholarship, and interpretation. Through our holdings, we tell the story of our attempts to define and measure the human experience, a story that helps us gain perspective on who we are and why we do the things we do.’

We spoke to Peter Dillon-Hooper, manager of the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, about whether such a project would be possible in the UK. He said: ‘This is good news not just for historians of psychology but also for the entire project of scientific psychology – an opportunity to engage the public and policy-makers in stories of psychology and its impact and application in the modern world. Would that a similar project be possible in the UK, but the history of psychology enjoys greater academic prestige in the USA than it does here, and it needs that underpinning. I know that the Society’s History & Philosophy of Psychology Section is keen to make progress on this, though they’d be the first to acknowledge that there’s a long way to go. In the meantime the Society has collaborated on various projects with the Science Museum in London and we hope there will be more to come.’ er

The Kickstarter campaign has now closed but had raised almost $55,000 at the time of writing. For more information about the project see tinyurl.com/jlmveuk

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