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APA Historical Database: Selected Entries

On May 8:

1848 — The Massachusetts legislature created the first U.S. school for people with mental retardation, allotting $2,500 for a trial year with "ten indigent idiots." The school, called the Massachusetts School for the Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Youth, opened under director Gridley Howe on October 1, 1848. The first superintendent was Walter E. Fernald, for whom the school is now named.

1858 — Wilhelm Wundt was offered the post of assistant professor to Hermann von Helmholtz at the Physiological Institute at Heidelberg. Wundt, then 27, accepted.

1869 — James R. Angell was born. Angell was the most prominent early spokesperson for American functionalism. He viewed behavior and mental processes as mediators between the organism and its environment. He created Yale University's Institute of Human Relations. APA President, 1906.

1890 — Mental hospital-community relations were described in the Richmond (Indiana) Evening Item: "Last night quite a number of citizens went to the new insane asylum to witness the starting up of the dynamos and the lighting of the building by electric light. The exercises were begun with music by the band from the feeble minded. . . After watching the lights for a short time, the crowd went to the amusement hall where . . . there was music and some dancing."

1919 — Leon Festinger was born. Festinger's theories of cognitive dissonance and social comparison processes have had lasting influence on social, personality, and motivational psychology. APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1959.

1933 — Richard M. Suinn was born. Suinn has promoted improvements in the education of psychologists, with special focus on recruitment and training of ethnic minorities. APA Distinguished Career Contribution to Education and Training in Psychology Award, 1993.

1940 — An early report of the successful use of insulin shock therapy in the treatment of patients with severe mental illness was made by Philip Polatin, Hyman Sponitz, and Benjamin Wiesel of the New York Psychiatric Institute.

1948 — The North Carolina Psychological Association was created at the business meeting of the Psychology Section of the North Carolina Academy of Sciences. William McGee was elected the association's first president.

1969 — John Bowlby's book Attachment and Loss was published. By 1982, this book had been cited in over 902 other publications and was featured as a "citation classic" by the journal Current Contents.

1971 — Grenada issued a postage stamp honoring American functionalist psychologist and educational philosopher John Dewey.

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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