Classics in the History of Psychology

An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario
ISSN 1492-3713

(Return to Classics index)

The American Psychological Association 1892-1942

Samuel W. Fernberger (1943)

First Published in Psychological Review, Vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 33-60

Posted August 2000

History seems to have a way of repeating itself. When James McKeen Cattell [1] reviewed the history of our Association at the 25th Anniversary in December, 1916, Europe was at war and the United States was to become actively involved in less than three months. Today I address you after American involvement in the second World War almost exactly nine months ago.

I am indeed fortunate with regard to the size of my audience today. Starting with a membership of 31 in 1892, the Association had grown so that, at the half-way mark, Cattell reviewed the history of the first twenty-five years in 1916 to a membership of 375, while this present address is to a total present membership of 3231. The change for the first and second 25-year period is almost a geometrical progression. If this should continue we may expect to have 30,000 members by 1967 and 30,000 by 1992, on our 100th birthday. The quantitative factor has changed greatly but, fortunately, the quality of the membership has remained high during all of the years of our existence -- a high degree of scientific and professional training has been and still is the fundamental requirement for election into the Association.

It would seem worth while to start with a record of the facts of the organization meeting in 1892. The published reports of the preliminary meeting and the first and second meetings of the Association were published together only in 1894.[2] And it was not until the third meeting in 1894 that [p. 34] a constitution was adopted. Presumably these early reports are from the pen of Joseph Jastrow, who was appointed secretary at the preliminary meeting, but they are unsigned.

The published facts of the founding indicate that seven psychologists met at Clark University on July 8, 1892, on the invitation of G. Stanley Hall, to discuss the advisability of forming an association. It would be most inappropriate if the names and institutions of this small group were not read at this time and place. They were:

G. Stanley Hall, Clark University
George S. Fullerton, University of Pennsylvania
William James, Harvard University
Joseph Jastrow, University of Wisconsin
George T. Ladd, Yale University
James McKeen Cattell, Columbia University
James Mark Baldwin, University of Toronto.
This group constituted themselves a committee to determine the place, time and program for the next meeting and to report a plan of organization and Hall, Fullerton and Jastrow were constituted an Executive Committee. Fullerton invited this fledgling organization to meet, for the first time, at the University of Pennsylvania on December 27th of that same year. Jastrow was appointed Secretary. The group then proceeded to elect twenty-four other members representing eighteen institutions. Six papers were read in the afternoon and evening and, finally, there is a notation -- which I add because it will date this meeting in the minds of some of you -- that Jastrow asked the cooperation of all members for the Section of Psychology at the World's Fair, which was to be held in Chicago. It was returning from this meeting at the Chicago World's Fair that Hermann von Helmholtz received an injury on shipboard from which he never recovered.

Such are the published facts about the preliminary meeting. But the historian would like to know more than is told in this account -- something of the discussion, something of the correspondence which preceded its calling, why twenty six of the thirty-one individuals accepted membership by mail [p. 35] beforehand while five additional members (including Münsterberg and Titchener) were elected actually at the meeting.

It seemed fortunate that two of the original seven at the organization meeting are still living and active in Psychology. So I wrote to Dr. Cattell and to Dr. Jastrow regarding their memories of this most important event in our history. I would like to quote part of their letters in reply.

Under date of December 17, 1940, Professor Cattell writes as follows: "I regret to write that I have no information concerning what happened prior to the calling of the organization meeting of the Psychological Association in 1892. The call came as a complete surprise to me and unfortunately I was not able to be present (italics mine). I have always assumed that the idea was Hall's. James did not get to the first meeting which was held at Philadelphia, and was not at the beginning particularly favorable to the organization. If the plan was proposed to Hall by anyone else, or if he had advice prior to the organization meeting, it must have been from a younger man, such as Sanford. When I made the address on the twenty-fifth anniversary, I called Hall 'our Socrates and midwife' and I am still disposed to do so. Jastrow was at the organization meeting and may have more information than I have concerning the situation."

So your historian consulted Professor Jastrow and received the following reply, dated January, 1941. "I was not present on July 8, 1892 at Worcester (italics mine); presumably I was in Maine. I was however invited to join. So far as I can recall, the entire project of forming the Association was Hall's. I was present at a later meeting at Xmas holiday time."

What actually happened on July 8, 1892, probably will never now be known. Certainly there is now no one living who can supply the details. There is really no evidence that the meeting was ever actually and physically held -- except that the names of six men who presumably read papers are listed. And all of this leads to a possible conclusion -- and I say this as an ex-Secretary of the Association -- that one cannot always trust the printed minutes of a Secretary as evidence of what actually happened at any meeting.[p. 36]

But there seems little doubt that the idea of such an organization was Hall's. The testimony of Cattell and Jastrow is unanimous on this point. And it would also seem to be true by process of elimination. We know, from their own testimony, that it was neither Cattell nor Jastrow and that James was, at first, adverse to the idea. It is not likely to have been Fullerton, who was more philosopher than psychologist; It was not likely to have been Baldwin, who was then relatively isolated at Toronto. This leaves only Hall and Ladd, and the possession of such an idea fits the temperamental pattern of Hall rather than Ladd -- Hall who had already organized and founded the American Journal of Psychology, for example, and who had established Clark University as a research institution. Because it so well fits into his temperamental pattern and in the face of no evidence to the contrary, it would seem that one may safely follow the lead of Cattell some twenty-five years ago and designate Hall as the 'Socrates and midwife' of our Association. Even though somewhat veiled in mystery as to details, here was the beginning of our Association. It seems unwise to spend the restricted time allotted to this paper in outlining the developmental history [3] of this group. What I shall try to do is to bring my previous history down to date by means of a series of charts. It does not seem worth while to discuss minute changes in the form of the constitution and like matters.


The first figure graphically represents the growth of membership -- the solid curve for members and the broken curve (beginning in 1926) for associates. There has been a surprisingly steady rise in the membership curve -- slowed down for a matter of some seven years after the establishment of the Associate grade, but again increasing sharply since 1936. The curve for Associates rises extremely regularly and very sharply from 1926, when this class was established, to the present time.

Last year the consideration of the extreme inequalities be-[p. 37]tween the number of members and associates, led to a changing of the criteria for membership which can now be acquired without research publication, always something of a difficult hurdle for many psychologists. This has been especially true in recent years when so many psychologists have been directing their full time and energy toward important practical applications of psychological techniques which do not necessarily [p. 38] lead to published research. It is unfortunate that this curve cannot include the elections to full Membership of the present business meeting, so that we could see the effects of this change in criteria for election.

Figure 2 shows the number of members and associates [p. 39] elected each year -- the solid line for members and the broken line for associates. The curve for members is most irregular but shows a general but very gradual upward trend. When one considers the enormous yearly increase of the numbers of trained psychologists receiving degrees from our graduate schools during the last fifty years, the upward trend seems small in comparison to the increasing available material. For example, there have been an average of less than three times as many membership elections during the last five years than during the first five years of the Association's history. Such a state of affairs is undoubtedly due to the repeated raising of standards for election to full membership during these years. And part of the irregularity in the membership curve is undoubtedly due to different standards adopted by different Councils of Directors in interpreting what the Constitution means by the statement 'acceptable published research beyond the doctorate dissertation,' for years one of the election criteria.

The curve for the number of associates elected each year is very different in form. It rises very rapidly for the first two years of the existence of this grade. For the next five years there is very considerable fluctuation, followed by two years with smaller numbers elected in 1933 and 1934. This trend may be due, in part, to the absorption of the pool of available material or it may be partly due to the effect of the financial depression which started in 1929 and which became particularly acute during these years of the middle '30's. Since 1934 there has been again a marked upward trend, culminating in the all-time-high last September with the election of 372 Associates in a single year.


The next three figures will have to do with the finances of the Association. These are given separately from the finances of the Association's publications. The major part of these journals -- the PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW, the Psychological Index, the Psychological Monograph, the Psychological Bulletin and the Journal of Experimental Psychology (of which the [p. 40] Psychological Index has been discontinued) were acquired in part by purchase from and in part by gift of Howard C. Warren. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology was acquired by gift of Morton Prince. The Psychological Abstracts was established by aid of a subvention from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Foundation. Curiously, the period covered by this acquisition by the Association of so many journals covers only the short bracket of three years: 1925- 1927. One must consider this fact because of the influence upon the Association's finances.

At the time of the founding of the Association in 1892, the dues were set at three dollars a year. In 1904 the surplus became so great that the dues were reduced to one dollar a [p. 41] year. This may have been too optimistic a reduction; yet two years later, in 1906, a recommendation of Council that the dues be increased to two dollars was referred back to Council. In fact, the increase to annual dues of two dollars was not again suggested until 1917 and was not finally voted until 1919. Four years after this, in 1923, the annual dues were increased to $5.00. After the purchase of the journals, in 1925, the dues were set at $7.00 for members and $3.00 for associates. Finally the present scale of $10.00 for members and $6.00 for associates became effective in 1936, of which $3.00 from the dues of each class of membership is paid for the subscription to Psychological Abstracts.

Income. These facts are reflected in the income curve in Fig. 3. Until 1925, the income in any one year never totaled as much as $1,000. Since 1925, with both increased dues and increased membership, the curve rises sharply and has continued to rise, but more slowly in recent years, solely as a function of increased membership. All fluctuations in the income curve may be explained in terms of changes in the dues because these have been the sole source of income of the Association.

Expenditures. Figure 4 shows the expenditures of the Association over the period of our history. Certain facts should be remembered in interpreting this curve. Up to the year 1905, the Secretary-Treasurer was allowed only whatever he spent for stationery and postage. In 1905 he was also allowed travelling expenses to attend the annual meetings. Only in 1913, when the Membership was almost 300, was there voted a stipend of $250 per year to the Secretary-Treasurer to cover both travelling expenses and secretarial aid. In 1921, when the offices of Secretary and Treasurer were separated, the stipend of the Secretary was continued at $250 and the new Treasurer was voted $50 a year. Subsequent increases in the stipend of the Secretary were voted in 1922 to $500; in 1923 to $750 and in 1926 to $1,000 per year. The present 1942 Budget carries a Secretary's stipend of $2,000 and a Treasurer's stipend of $400.

The form of the curve is very similar to that for income --[p. 42]slowly rising from the founding until 1922 and then rising very rapidly from that date to the present time.

Balance on hand. A comparison of the last two curves would indicate that the receipts and the expenditures never exactly balanced. Figure 5 shows the outcome of these differences or the balance on hand at the end of each fiscal year. Expenditures for the first fifteen years were extremely small and hence a balance gradually accumulated until, by 1909, it reached a maximum of more than $3,000. From 1910 to 1925 the curve drops, at first slowly and then more rapidly, indicating greater expenditures than receipts for these years -- until in 1923 little more than $1,000 remained in the treasury as a backlog. This situation was the basis for the increase of the dues to $3.00 per year in 1923 and, from then on, the curve has risen sharply.

There is justification for the establishing of a reserve of this size. It was recognized by Council in 1926 that they must adopt a definite policy to build up a new and large reserve to protect the Association's journals and especially to protect and [p. 43] aid in continuing the Psychological Abstracts when the Foundation's subvention should be exhausted. Indeed, the Association is now in the publishing business to an extent that makes such a working capital essential. And it must be recognized that the publishing of this selected group of journals is one of the chief contributions which the Association can make to the advancement of psychology as a science.

In this connection, I cannot refrain from mentioning one factor which made the building up of this reserve possible in such a short time. The Association agreed to pay Howard C. Warren a total price of $5,500 for the journals of the Psychological Review Company (which he owned outright) -- retiring notes at the rate of $500 per year. By 1929 a total of $3,500 had been paid to Warren and the Association was three payments ahead of schedule. In this year Warren very generously presented the rest of the stock of the Psychological Review [p. 44] Company to the Association, thus cancelling the unpaid notes. This action was especially generous because the original price for the group of journals was considerably below the actual value of the journals purchased by the Association.


Thus far I have tried to indicate the development of the Association, from a very meager beginning into a big business -- at least as judged by the average person in academic life -- but a business still run very largely on a volunteer basis so far as the executive functions are concerned. Stipends to the Secretary, to the Treasurer and allowances to the editors of the journals are all spent in paying for assistance of a secretarial sort for the work of these offices. I suspect that there is a large percentage of the membership who do not realize the expenditure of time and thought and energy which all of these officers contribute -- and gladly contribute -- to the welfare of the Association and of psychology in general.

Time will not permit more than the mention of a few of the detailed and interesting changes in our history, such as changes in the constitution, and of our incorporation in 1925, an incorporation made necessary to legally protect all of the individual members when the Association began publishing journals changes in the methods of nominating and electing officers of the Association and the like. One cannot do more than mention the relation of the Association to other organizations, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Research Council and the Social Science Research Council, to the last two of which the Association annually elects member representatives; and of Sections and Branches of the Association formed to hold regional meetings.

It seems worth while, however, to note the most interesting history of the relation of the Association to clinical psychology. The older members will remember the long battle within the Association which eventuated in the forming of a Section of Clinical Psychology within the Association with authority for the certification of psychologists for clinical work. When this battle was finally won, only twenty-five members applied for [p. 45] certification; thus the whole project was abandoned four years later, even though the reduction of the certification fee from $35 to a bargain price of $5 failed to increase the number who applied.[4]

In a history such as this, one must mention that the Ninth International Congress of Psychology, which met in New Haven in 1929, was arranged by the Association and was carried through with great success.

Many special committees on a variety of problems have been appointed and financed by the Association for the study of special problems. In many cases, the findings of these committees have been published as special reports of the Association and have greatly contributed to the development of psychology in this country. All of these and many other details of our history would be interesting, but time does not permit the development of these aspects of the Association's activities.


Programs. Article I of the first Constitution, which was adopted in 1894, reads: "OBJECT. The object of the Association is the advancement of psychology as a science. Those are eligible who are engaged in this work." This simple statement covers both the object of the society and the qualifications for membership. Through various revisions of the constitution, this statement of object has remained unchanged although the wording may have been somewhat altered. The final statement, in the Certificate of Incorporation in 1925, reads: "That the object of this society shall be to advance psychology as a science."

One of the principal methods employed to accomplish this object has been the holding of annual meetings at which members might present scientific papers, which were then thrown open to discussion by the members. Inasmuch as the core of the Association has always been the holding of the annual meeting -- indeed for many years this was the sole function of the society -- it seems proper to spend the rest of the time [p. 46] allotted to this paper in a description of this aspect of our activities.

Attendance. Figure 6 indicates attendance at the meetings of the Association, held during the Christmas holidays in earlier years and more recently in early September. Since 1918 registration has been taken at the meetings. Dotted lines indicate years for which no records are available except in 1929 which was the year of the Ninth International Congress [p. 47] of Psychology when the annual meeting of the Association was omitted.

The curve rises slowly at first with an attendance of practically 100 persons in 1905 and 1906 when the total membership was about twice this number. Ten years after this the attendance had never risen to 150 in any one year and it dropped to 100 in 1917 and below this number in the second year of the First World War. From 1918 on, the rise in attendance figures was slow until 1928, a year which marked a very rapid rise to nearly 500. This sudden rise was the result of the establishment of the grade of associateship. >From this year on the rise has been rapid but not continuous, reaching an all-time high in 1940 at the Pennsylvania State College meeting of slightly more than 1200 persons. A statistical treatment of last year's meeting indicates that more than 35 per cent of the members and more than 23 per cent of the associates were in attendance, besides almost 400 persons who were either newly elected associates or individuals not affiliated with the Association.

There are two sharp reversals in the curve in recent years. In 1936 there were some 200 fewer members at a meeting held in Michigan than the year before. In 1939 when the Association met at California there were some 650 less than the year before at Ohio State, and more than 700 less than the following year at Pennsylvania State College. These facts would seem to indicate the disadvantage of holding meetings of the Association too far west -- at least at the present time.

Number of scientific papers. Figure 7 indicates the number of scientific papers presented on the program each year. Although this curve is very irregular, there is a tendency for it to rise steadily and then more markedly after 1931.

It may be amusing to review the first program in 1892 when 12 papers or reports were presented -- the last 'paper' being some six minor studies from Clark University, so that really 17 studies were presented. Hall gave the Presidential Address entitled 'The History and Prospects of Experimental Psychology in America.' Bryan gave a paper in Educational Psychology; Münsterburg and Jastrow gave general papers [p. 48] and the other 14 were reports of experimental results more or less along Wundtian lines. Witmer and Nichols each presented two papers; single papers were given by Cattell, Pace and Bryan; and finally Sanford presented results of minor studies by T. L. Bolton, Reigart, Calkins, Dresslar and two by Bergström.

In 1897 the programs were divided into sections, when the program grew to the volume of 25 papers in a single year. By 1911 the program listed 57 papers and this led to the dividing of the program into sections according to topic and subject matter. During the two war years of 1917-18 the number of [p. 49] papers on the program dropped below 30. In 1922 the experiment was tried of introducing short reports by graduate students, which led to another increase in the number of titles. After the establishment of the grade of associate the curve rises markedly and surprisingly regularly (with the exception of the reversion for the California meeting in 1939) and reached the all-time high of 190 papers at the Pennsylvania State College meeting the next year. The numbers include symposia, round-table discussions and the more recent introduction of scientific films.

Fields covered by the papers. It would seem that the analysis of the papers presented throughout the years might give some indication of the interests of the members throughout our history. Hence an effort has been made to break down the categories into ten arbitrarily selected and arbitrarily defined fields. These are (1) General (including theoretical and philosophical papers); (2) Perception (and sensory processes); (3) Learning, Memory and Thinking; (4) Physiological, neurological and reaction; (5) Educational; (6) Abnormal; (7) Social; (8) Clinical; (9) Applied (including vocational and industrial), and (10) Animal.

Such a differentiation is difficult and must always be arbitrary. Authors seem frequently to obscure what they are going to say by the title and even by the abstract. A surprisingly large proportion of these papers apparently never reached journal publication and hence one could not turn to the fuller published account. I have been on too many Program Committees not to realize that the placing of a particular paper into a particular program cannot be taken as assurance of content. I am sure That someone else making this analysis would obtain somewhat different results. Nevertheless I am equally certain that the following curves indicate a true and adequate picture of the different fields and hence are worth analysis and description. The results will be found in Figs. 8-10.

General. The curve for general, philosophical and theoretical papers rises slowly to a maximum of 28 such papers in 1899, or more than half the papers presented in that year.[p. 50] From then on the curve drops to more or less of a dead level. In only three years since 1906 have there been more than 10 such papers in any one year (and usually the Presidential Address was one of this sort), while, since 1926 not more than 8 such papers were presented at any one meeting of the Association, in spite of the great increase in both membership and the total number of papers on the program. One may safely conclude that the Association as a whole has become less theoretical and less philosophical as time has gone on.

Perception. The curve for perceptual and sensory processes runs along more or less at a dead level, with never more than 10 such papers in any one year up to 1927. Since that date there has been a slight increase in the number of such papers on each program -- the number falling below ten in only three years. One can conclude that there has been a steady and continuing interest in this type of problem throughout our history but that the increase of interest has not paralleled the increase in membership.[p. 51]

Learning, memory and thinking. During the first fifteen years of the Association's history there are only 10 papers which I think should be included in this category. Since that date at least one such paper has appeared on the program except for the single year of 1922. The interest has been gradually increasing and 10 or more such papers have appeared on the program in six of the last ten years.

Physiological, neurological and reaction. There has always been an interest in this topic among the Association membership -- an interest which remained small until the last decade but which has increased markedly since that time. Still one must conclude that it is a type of interest which developed late in the history of the Association.

Educational. It was this category which gave the greatest difficulty for differentiation. .So many learning papers can be classed as Educational or placed in the category already discussed. So many other papers may be designated either Educational on the one hand, or Social or Clinical on the other. The tendency, in the present analysis, was to place a given paper in some category other than Educational if it fell as readily in the one classification as the other. With these [p. 52] strictures on the method of classification employed, there are only 11 titles in Educational Psychology which I should be willing to include in the category in the first 16 years of the Association's existence. From then on the number of program titles increased rather slowly and with considerable fluctuation.

Abnormal. There has never been any very marked interest by the Association members in Abnormal Psychology as reflected in the programs, but this interest has been relatively continuous during the life of the Society, especially since the turn of the century. But in only one year (1940) have more than 10 abnormal papers appeared on any program.

Social. The curve of the number of titles in Social Psychology which have appeared on the program has a very different form from those just discussed. It again starts low, with only 7 such papers in the first ten years and from then on shows continued but not greatly increasing interest until 1932. From this date on the curve rises rapidly, and, since 1934 steadily until last year, some 38 papers seemed properly to fall into this category. The results indicate that the real development of interest in Social Psychology belongs to the last decade and its growth, as reflected in the programs, has been very great during that period.

Clinical. The curve for titles in Clinical Psychology follows an almost similar trend to that of Social Psychology. It is interesting to note that a clinical paper appeared on the first program and that It such papers were presented during the first ten years of the existence of the Association. For the next decade interest remained relatively slight but constant, with only one year (1906) in which not a single clinical paper was presented. From 1910 there is a marked increase in the number of papers to a maximum of 22 papers in the single year of 1916. Then the curve falls off again to a new minimum of only 8 papers in 1930. It is the period from 1912 for fifteen years which marks the development of clinical tests and most of the papers during this period have to do with the presentation and validation of such test material. From 1930 on the curve again rises, with wide fluctuations, reaching the all-time [p. 53] high of 47 papers in 1940. This is the largest number of papers presented in any single category for any single year and the number comprises one-fourth of the total number of papers which appeared on the program in that year. Most of the papers during the last decade deal with clinical problems rather than the development of some specific test. The curve indicates the very large recent interest of the members in this sort of problem.

Applied, vocational and industrial. Interest in this category developed late in the history of our society. I am not willing to list a single title during the first eleven years of our existence and not more than thirteen titles in the first twenty-five years. From then on the number of titles increases, at [p. 54] first slowly and in the last decade much more rapidly -- with a maximum of 25 such papers presented at the 1940 meeting.

Animal. Many of the titles which have been included in this category might well have been placed elsewhere in such groups as perception, learning, reaction, social or physiological. An effort has been made to determine whether the experimenter was merely employing an animal because it was the best sort of subject to use on a particular type of problem or whether he was really interested in the species he used in the investigation. It is only the latter sort of experiment which has been placed in the Animal category. There has been Association interest in animal work from the beginning, with 7 such papers in the first ten years and only one year (1921) in which no such paper appeared since 1903. It was not until 1928 that more than 10 animal papers appeared in any one program. From 1930 until a maximum of 36 papers in 1937, the curve rises rapidly with only two small inversions. Since 1937 the number Of purely animal experiments has somewhat decreased but is still relatively high.

But in order to determine more general trends of research interests, it seemed worth while to combine these results into two groups. Some difficulty was experienced in the naming of these two more general categories. It would seem, from a study of the titles, that the motivation and purpose of five of the categories of our analysis -- namely, General-and-Philosophical, Perception, Learning-Memory-and-Thinking, Physiological-Neurological-and-Reactions and Animal was largely for the purpose of advancing Psychology as a science. Hence it seems appropriate to combine these five fields into a single category of Academic indicating the nature of the materials and the sort of approach to these problems. In contrast to this, the term Humanitarian has been given to the other category which includes Educational, Abnormal, Social, Clinical-Mental-Tests-and-Applied, Vocational-and-Industrial Psychologies. Here the point of departure and the motivation for these studies would seem to have been largely a wish to better the relation of the individual to his environment. The welfare of society was here of primary importance, in the minds of the [p. 55] investigators. This does not imply any criticism of the scientific character of these investigations in the Humanitarian for the development of a systematic scientific psychology. But the studies in the Humanitarian category had an immediate and practical application to the welfare of society which is so frequently lacking in the group which we have named Academic.

Figure 11 gives the result's of the combining of the papers at each annual meeting in terms of these two categories. There has never been a year, even from the beginning of our Association, in which papers of both sorts have not been presented. Until 1909 the number of academic papers was always greatly in excess of the number of humanitarian papers; but during this same early period the curve for humanitarian papers increased slowly. In 1910 exactly the same number of papers was presented for the two categories and, from this date until 1915, the curve of humanitarian papers rises rapidly -- in 1914 is higher for the first time than the curve for academic papers. This superiority of the number of humanitarian papers continues through 1922, this being the period of the development of a large number of mental tests and their validation. From 1922 until 1931 is a decade during which both sorts of papers reach and maintain a new level, with more Academic papers in five years, more humanitarian papers in three years, and the same number in two years.

Since 1931 both curves have risen rapidly but not regularly. In six of these twelve years, more academic papers were presented while more humanitarian papers were presented in the other six years. But, during the last three years, the number of humanitarian papers has been very greatly in excess of the Academic group. In 1940 there was a total of 126 humanitarian papers against only 74 in the academic group. Indeed, during the last three years, the number of academic papers falls below the number presented in any of the three years previously. The maximum of the curve for academic papers falls in 1938 with 91 titles.

Before we leave the question of programs, it seems worth [p. 56] while to say a few words regarding our one previous anniversary -- the twenty-fifth Anniversary meeting of 1916. Just before this meeting, which was still held during the Christmas holidays, Woodrow Wilson had just been reelected on a peace program and with the slogan "Too proud to fight." Nevertheless it is my clear memory that we expected shortly to be in [p. 57] the war which had been raging on the European continent for more than three years. There were four special papers on that program and certainly one paper reflected this attitude -- that of G. Stanley Hall's, entitled 'Psychology and the War.' Joseph Jastrow read on the 'Varieties of Psychological Experience' and J. McKeen Cattell on 'Our Psychological Organization and Research.' The fourth paper pointed to the future and, indeed, was prophetic. It was by John Dewey and was entitled 'The Need for Social Psychology.' The results, just given, indicate how his point of view was heeded and how it has developed productive research.


This then is a picture of our organization as it exists today, after fifty years of existence. Our present membership is more than 3200, all elected because of technical qualifications of psychological training and psychological interest. Of these almost exactly 25 per cent are members and 75 per cent associates -- although experience of the present business meeting may change this picture. The primary function of the Association is still the development of psychology and this is accomplished in two ways:

(1) The scientific programs at the annual meetings and
(2) The publication of the six journals owned by the Association.
In addition the Association has eight affiliated organizations which, in the order of their date of affiliation, are the Eastern Psychological Association, the Rocky Mountain Branch, the Washington-Baltimore Branch, the Psychometric Society, the Society for the Study of Social Issues, the American Association for Applied Psychology, the Midwestern Psychological Association, and the Western Psychological Association. Besides these, the American Psychological Association supplies delegates, who represent the Association, to the following organizations, either by election or appointment: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Research Council, the Social Science Research Council, the American Documentation Institute, the Ameri-[p. 58]can Standards Association, and the Inter-Society Color Council.

And further, in an effort to maintain high scientific standards within the Association, there are Standing Committees on Precautions in Animal Experimentation, on Psychology and the Public Service, on Scientific and Professional Ethics, and on Publicity and Public Relations. All those different functions follow rather closely the object of the society 'to advance psychology as science.'

But the duty of the historian should be not only the ordering and interpretation of facts of the past. It is also his duty to study past and present trends and try to extrapolate these into the probable picture of the future. Most certainly the trends point definitely in a single direction -- namely, the gradual development of the Association from a purely scientific organization, primarily interested in those aspects which I have called 'academic,' into a professional organization more largely dominated with those practical applications which I have designated as 'humanitarian.' That such a development conforms to the present world trend cannot be questioned. And the development of this new point of view as evidenced by the kinds of papers presented at the scientific sessions of the Annual meetings is evident.

That this development may be very rapid is indicated by the vote of the Association last year in regard to the extension of the functions of the Secretary's office. The report of a Special committee to study the project is worth reading.[5] In the democratic fashion which has characterized our Association, the Committee attempted to obtain facts regarding the attitude of the membership. The results of this questionnaire made the recommendations of the Committee almost mandatory, even including an increase of the dues by one dollar per year to establish a permanent secretaryship; and the business meeting of the Association placed itself on record for Council 'to bring before the 1942 meeting the necessary recommendations for any needed constitutional amendments, change dues, and the definition of the functions of the Secretary.' It [p. 59] is this last phrase, 'the definition of the functions of the Secretary,' which I believe is the important one which points toward the change in form of the Association. The new office of the Secretary would include not only the present functions, but such activities as a placement service, promotion service, a public relations bureau and even the attempt actively to interest new members in joining the Association. Specific suggestions received by the Committee and quoted in the report by the Committee included such procedures as a 'well-organized syndicated feature, sponsored by the A.P.A. appearing once a week'; that the secretary travel about and visit laboratories; and that he sponsor 'a responsible popular magazine in psychology.' There can be no quarrel with these recommendations -- they are in accordance with the trend of the times and with the development of psychology, and are completely in accordance with the desires of the majority of the membership of our democratic organization. But I wonder what the historian will give as the picture at our 100th Anniversary in 1992 or even at our 75th Anniversary twenty-five years from today.

I cannot close without developing one further idea. We are now in the prosecution of a war -- the third war in which the United States has engaged in the life of the Association. In 1898 at the time of the Spanish-American War, I can find no evidence that psychologists contributed or were expected to contribute to the activities of the Government. I can find that Lightner Witmer volunteered, doffed his academic gown for a uniform and served in a cavalry unit in Puerto Rico. How different was the picture in 1917 when psychologists became so largely responsible for the problem of personnel selection in the Services but for little else. It is true that a few individuals, like Raymond Dodge, made valuable contributions to problems of material and the more advantageous use of matériel, but Dodge's was a relatively isolated contribution.

Today there has been no diminution of the importance of personnel selection -- indeed this has become very greatly widened as the use of new materials has required the differential selection of specialized personnel, chosen because of [p. 60] special abilities. Beyond this there have been much greater calls upon psychologists for the control of morale and public opinion, a development not possible at the time of the last World War when John Dewey read a paper on the 'Need of a Social Psychology.' But in this war psychologists have been asked to stay in their laboratories and speed the development of both fundamental and practical research on the many new problems which have grown out of the development of more and more complicated matériel. I suspect, when the history of the participation of American psychologists in either direct or indirect contribution to the present war effort is written, that even our membership will be surprised at the extent to which this has been employed. And too high praise cannot be given to those who have stayed on their academic jobs in order to continue the training of young psychologists and of those who have stayed on their applied jobs and so continue to work for the betterment of the civilian population in these trying times.


[1] J. McK. Cattell, Our Psychological Association and research, Science, 1917, N. S. 45, 275-284.

[2] The report of the preliminary meeting and of the first and second annual meetings appears to have been published as a privately printed pamphlet, which bears no date, but has the imprint of Macmillan & Co. The official proceedings of the Association were subsequently published in the PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW from 1895 to 1903, and in the Psychological Bulletin from 1904 up to the present time.

[3] S. W. Fernberger, The American Psychological Association. A historical summary 1892-1930. Psychol. Bull., 1932, 29, 1-89.

[4] For a list of those certified, cf. Fernberger, op. cit., 51.

[5] Psychol. Bull., 1941, 38, 849-865.