Psychology Department records
Collection Scope and Content
This collection consists of one box of faculty meeting minutes from 1925 to 2000. The Psychology Department transferred the collection in 2000 to the University Archives of the Special Collections Department.
- George Washington University. Dept. of Psychology (Organization)
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Historical or Biographical Note
The Department of Psychology, of George Washington University (GW), contributes to the mission of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) at the George Washington University by offering both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Psychology is currently the largest undergraduate program in CCAS with respect to the number of declared majors. The department has doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology (fully accredited by the American Psychological Association), Cognitive Neuroscience, and Applied Social Psychology. Each year, the department awards approximately ten Ph.D. degrees. At all levels of instruction, the educational programs make extensive use of and focus upon the Washington area's many and varied resources. General psychology was first offered at George Washington University in 1905 as an introductory course in the Department of Philosophy. Additional introductory courses in educational and social psychology were added alongside upper-level courses in educational and experimental psychology in 1907. A separate Department of Psychology was established in 1908, and courses were offered in general, comparative, social, abnormal, and experimental psychology. Philosophy and psychology were merged the following year with education and remained so until 1913; no courses in social psychology were offered during these years.
Education was separated permanently from philosophy and psychology as a department of its own in 1913. From then until 1921, the only psychology course offerings in the Department of Philosophy and Psychology were in general, experimental, and educational psychology. From 1921 to 1931, despite being merged with philosophy departmentally, psychology was available sui generis as a master of arts and/or a doctor of philosophy degree and was categorized as a field of research dually under Philosophy and Art and Biological Sciences. The dual classification of psychology and its earlier intermingling with education reflect aforementioned influences in psychology's origin and in that of its industrial-organizational subfield.
The Graduate Council at GW gave its first Ph.D. in Psychology to Fred A. Moss (1893–1966) in 1922. Largely a behaviorist, Moss was working a mere 47 miles from (and occasionally collaborated with) John B. Watson (1878 – 1958), who had just three years earlier published his revised textbook on human behavior, Psychology from the Standpoint of the Behaviorist (Hunt & Anderson, 1990; Fancher, 1996). A young graduate of Columbia University, Moss (1922) did his doctoral work at GW on the Methods of Measuring Animal Drives, which was also the subject of Watson's early research (Fancher, 1996). He is best known as the creator of the MCAT, the medical school admissions test that served as a forerunner of numerous aptitude tests such as the SAT.
Thelma Hunt (1903–92) began her 75-year career at GW as an undergraduate and scholarship recipient in 1921. In the six years that followed, Hunt distinguished herself as a full-time student while simultaneously working full-time for the Civil Service Commission (CSC; presently called the Office of Personnel Management). Originally interested in chemistry, she was convinced by Moss to major in psychology, and did so her sophomore year (Hunt & Anderson, 1989). By age 23, Hunt had earned her A.B., A.M., and Ph. D. (all in psychology) and had gained six years of work experience in personnel procedures. Dr. Hunt also received a medical degree from George Washington University, and served as department chair from 1938 to 1963.
Government agencies did not offer many opportunities for women to advance in the 1920s, so Hunt pursued a career in academia. After teaching for one year at Middle Tennessee State Teachers College in Murfreesboro, TN, she returned to GW at the request of Moss as a professor in psychology. Professors Moss and Hunt left a large imprint upon the department, and their legacy is felt today in the area of industrial psychology.
N.B. This history note was written in 2005
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Language of Materials
The Department of Psychology, of George Washington University (GW), contributes to the mission of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) at the George Washington University by offering both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. This collection consists of one box of faculty meeting minutes from 1925 to 2000.
Organized in two series Faculty meeting minutes and Departmental files. 2 boxes
Materials acquired through transfers from the Psychology Department.
- Guide to the Psychology Department records, 1925-2000
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English