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APA Historical Database: Selected Entries


On September 6:

1886 — Edgar John Rubin was born. Rubin was a Danish Gestalt psychologist who invented the famous "vase/two faces" figure created by an ambiguous figure-ground relation. President, 10th International Congress of Psychology.

1909 — Clark University's 20th anniversary conference began. Arranged by Clark president G. Stanley Hall, the conference featured Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung among the speakers. This was Freud's only appearance in America. He called it "the first official recognition of our work."

1929 — In an address to the Ninth International Congress of Psychology in New Haven, Connecticut, Edward L. Thorndike stated "I was wrong," to introduce his public revision of the laws of exercise and effect. Thorndike concluded that he was wrong about the role of simple repetition in learning and wrong to assume that punishment had effects opposite to those of reward.

1930 — Richard F. Thompson was born. Thompson contributed to the scientific understanding of the neutral bases of behavior. His investigations of the neurophysiology of behavioral plasticity has shed light on the nature of learning and habituation. APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1974.

1945 — The modern, reorganized APA was officially inaugurated. Within a few months, Dael Wolfle was installed as the first executive secretary.

1946 — The first meeting of the APA's Maturity and Old Age Interest Group was held. The group had been admitted as Division 20 of the APA, the first division established by petition in the modern APA. Sidney Pressey led the petition drive for the new division.

1950 — The APA appointed a committee to find a building suitable for its first headquarters. At the time, the APA was housed in the American Association for the Advancement of Science building at 1515 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC, now the Tunisian Embassy. The committee was chaired by Jerry Carter and included Dael Wolfle and Fillmore H. Sanford.

1950 — The APA Council of Representatives approved publication of the first standards for APA-approved predoctoral internships in clinical psychology. The standards were published in the November 1950 issue of the American Psychologist.

1950 — The APA appointed the Committee on Test Standards, the first committee on this subject since the 1909-1919 Committee on Measurements. Lee J. Cronbach chaired the committee, which was charged with preparing a "statement on technical standards for evaluating tests and the contents of test manuals."

1954 — The Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) was founded at the annual meeting of the APA in New York. John B. Wolfe, of the University of Mississippi, organized the meeting and was elected temporary president. The region represented by the SEPA is the same as that of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, but only the SEPA is an affiliate of the APA.

1957 — The antidepressant effects of the tricyclic imipramine were first publicly announced at the Second International Congress of Psychiatry in Zurich. The drug was synthesized during research on antihistamines. Tofranil is one common trade name for imipramine.

1958 — Federal support for university training in special education was established by Public Law 85-926.

1960 — The APA Council of Representatives admitted Division 23 (Consumer Psychology). Dik Twedt was the division's first president.

1965 — Community psychologists attending an open meeting at the APA annual meeting in Chicago voted to seek APA division status. The group became APA Division 27 (Community Psychology).

1966 — David M. Green and John A. Swets's Signal Detection Theory and Psychophysics was published.

1966 — The APA Council of Representatives admitted Division 27 (Community Psychology). Robert Reiff was the division's first president.

1966 — The APA Council of Representatives admitted Division 28 (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse). Murray Jarvik was the division's first president. The division's original title was Behavioral Pharmacology.

1970 — The first APA Division 29 (Psychotherapy) Distinguished Professional Award in Psychology and Psychotherapy was presented to Eugene Gendlin, of the University of Chicago. The presentation was made at the APA convention in Miami, Florida. In 1984, the name of the award was changed to the Distinguished Psychologist Award in Psychology and Psychotherapy.


Copyright © 1995, American Psychological Association. Web version by permission. Source: Street, W. R. (1994). A Chronology of Noteworthy Events in American Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. The American Psychological Association and Central Washington University have supported the development of the APA Historical Database.

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