New Department of Psychology Collection at ARB

By Suzanne Maggard

The Archives and Rare Books Library recently received a new collection from UC’s psychology department containing records from 1967 until 2011.  The collection includes information on faculty and graduate students, annual reports, and accreditation documentation and supplements the very small number of items that the archives already held related to the history of the psychology department.  This new collection is now available for research by faculty, student, staff, and the public.

Wayland R. Benedict

Wayland R. Benedict

The psychology department has a long history at UC.  Wayland Richardson Benedict taught the first psychology courses at UC starting in 1876 as part of the philosophy department.  Courses like Empirical Psychology covering topics in sensation, content, strength and tone of sensation continued to be offered until a separate Department of Experimental Psychology and Pedagogy was created in the Spring of 1901.  The Psychology Department endured quite a bit of instability in its early years and the first three department heads stayed for only a short time. Charles H. Judd left the University of Cincinnati after only one year. Margaret Floy Washburn, who took his place, expanded the course offerings with classes like folk psychology, history and systems of psychology, and developmental and educational psychology, but also left UC after only a year. Her replacement, John Willis Slaughter added courses in comparative psychology and a graduate offering in the psychology of morality, art and religion, but his one-year contract was not renewed.

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It was not until Burtis Burr Breese became department head in 1904 that consistency came to the department.  Breese served on the faculty for the next 30 years and watched the department grow from three rooms on the second floor of McMicken Hall to four full-time faculty members, two lecturers and 17 courses.  Breese was also there when Emma Kohnky earned the first graduate degree in psychology at UC in 1909 and in 1922, when Charles Diserens was awarded UC’s first PhD in psychology.

With the retirement of Breese in 1937, Arthur Gilbert Bills became head of the Department of Psychology. Arthur Bills was responsible for developing one of the first clinical training programs.  During his tenure as head, 20 doctoral degrees were awarded and the department grew to eight full time faculty.  In 1961, Wesley Allinsmith took over as department head, and Arthur Bills retired in 1963.

Venus Bluestein

Venus Bluestein

This collection of psychology records begins shortly after that time.   CVs and newsclippings in the collection provide a glimpse at the accomplishments and research interests of faculty members in the department.   For example the collection contains information on Venus W. Bluestein, who got my attention with her name alone.  Dr. Bluestein was appointed as an assistant professor in the department of psychology in 1965 and was instrumental in the development of UC’s school psychology program.   The collection also holds files on Howard Lyman, Anthony Grasha, and Bill Dember.   The collection contains records of grants received by the department and annual reports which provide highlights of events throughout the years.  Learn more about the collection by viewing the finding aid online at:  http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/OhCiUAR0342 or by contacting the Archives and Rare Books Library at 513-556-1959 or archives@ucmail.uc.edu.  Much of the information for this post was gathered from the following article on the Psychology Department’s website which provides even more detail on the department’s history:  http://www.artsci.uc.edu/collegedepts/psychology/about/history.aspx.

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