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Department of Psychology records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-04-160

Scope and Contents

The records of the Department of Psychology of the Johns Hopkins University cover the period 1957 to 1985, with the bulk of the material having been generated 1957-1979. The records are divided into six series: (1) Correspondence, much of it Chairman William D. Garvey's, 1972-1981; (2) Faculty meeting minutes, agendas and notices, 1957-1980; (3) Graduate student materials, 1969-1975; (4) Extra-University organizations, 1972-1979; (5) G. Stanley Hall Centennial Conference, 1979-1985; and (6) Applied Behavioral Area Seminar, 1973- 1981. The first two series are arranged in hierarchical order, the most important officer or body appearing first, while the last four are arranged in alphabetical order according to file title. Documents within folders are arranged in reverse chronological order in the first four series, and in standard chronological order in series 5 and 6.


  • Creation: 1957-1985


Use Restrictions

Education records in series 3, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, are restricted. For details, see Regulations Governing Access to Restricted Records, at the front of each binder.


The history of the Department of Psychology at the Johns Hopkins University is a checkered one. Originally a subsection of the Department of Philosophy, it did not become an autonomous department until 1913. The department was often heavily influenced by Baltimore public opinion, especially when the University was viewed as harboring immoral elements. In 1881, Granville Stanley Hall, the first "Lecturer in Psychology," was appointed, with universal approbation for his emphasis on empirical, rather than speculative, work; upon the centennial of his appointment a Chair of Psychology was endowed in his honor. The first Ph.D. in Psychology was awarded to Joseph Jastrow in 1886, but in 1888, when endowment funds decreased, the department was deemed expendable and ceased to function.

In 1903, President Ira Remsen reinstated the department with the hiring of James Mark Baldwin, who proceeded to hire as associates John Broadus Watson and Knight Dunlap, who eventually succeeded to the Chairmanship. Scandal rocked the department in 1909 when Baldwin was revealed to have been arrested in a "colored house" of prostitution on the eve of his appointment to the local school board, and public outcry led to his dismissal. Watson took over the department and seemed headed for a brilliant career in radical behaviorist psychology when he too became involved in scandal: in 1920 his affair with graduate student Rosalie Rayner became public, his wife divorced him and again public outcry prompted the University to dismiss a promising scholar.

Recovery from these two episodes, however, was swift, and the expansion of the department through the rest of the Twenties seemed to augur well. Unfortunately, the department lost its housing to the federal government in 1931, proceeded to run up huge deficits, and by 1941 the faculty had dispersed to greener pastures. The Department of Psychology once again ceased to exist, and was not reinstated until after the Second World War.

The records of the Department take up soon after its reinstatement and extend from 1957, under Chairman W. R. Garner, to 1982, during William D. Garvey's tenure as chairman. The records of the earlier years are less complete and document almost exclusively the day-to-day business of an academic department: faculty meetings, graduate student applications and reviews, courses offered, and the hiring and resignations of professors. In the late seventies, however, several innovative and sometimes controversial programs were introduced. In 1978, a proposal was submitted to the Deans of Homewood for a six-year B.A.-Ph.D. program in Psychology, which was eventually accepted, although some, such as Dean Michael Hooker, had strong reservations about the ability of a high school senior to make such a career decision.

In 1979, two new programs were initiated: Second Careers for Women in Psychology and the Hopkins-University of Maryland joint J.D.-Ph.D. in Psychology program. The former started slowly because of minimal funding, but the pool of qualified applicants remained substantial; additional funding increased the number of admissions from two to ten in 1980. The joint J.D.-Ph.D. program is less well- documented, but a published statement by Program Coordinator Dr. Donald Bersoff makes the objective of the program clear: to integrate the traditional opposite perspectives of law and psychology to produce "scholars who are able to apply their skills in psychology to the solution of legal problems."

Throughout the later records, especially from 1972 when he became Chairman, William Garvey stands out. Not only is his influence on the workings of the department preserved,in minutes and notices, but also his activities outside the department, from writing letters to Congressmen, scholarly articles and his 1979 book, Facilitating Information Exchange among Librarians, Scientists, Engineers, and Students, to his many leisure activities. He served as an advisor for the nascent Journal for Research Communication Studies in 1977, and on the Academic Policy Board for the Human Biology Program from 1978 to 1981, which in connection with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the School of Hygiene and Public Health began offering programs in tropical medicine, reproductive biology, and environmental studies.

French, John C. A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1946.
Hawkins, Hugh. Pioneer: A History of the Johns Hopkins University, 1874-1889. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1960.
Pauly, Philip J. "Psychology at Hopkins: Its Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and..." Johns Hopkins Magazine 30 (December 1979): 36-41.


1.9 Cubic Feet (5 letter size document boxes)

Language of Materials



Series 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 were transferred to the Archives by Ms. Casey Camponeschi, Administrative Assistant, Department of Psychology. Series 5 was transferred by Dr. Stewart Hulse, Professor of Psychology.

Accession Number

84.10, 86.19, 89.11

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Margaret E. Burns, Craig Passmore, Charlene Mendoza.

Department of Psychology records
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA