The History of the International Union of Psychological Science

By Benjafield, John | Canadian Psychology, November 2001 | Go to article overview

The History of the International Union of Psychological Science


Benjafield, John, Canadian Psychology


MARK R. ROSENZWEIG, WAYNE W. HOLTZMAN, MICHEL SABOURIN, AND DAVID BELANGER The History of the International Union of Psychological Science Philadelphia, PA: The Psychology Press, 2000, 256 pages (ISBN 1-84169-197-6, US$49.95, Hardcover) Reviewed by JOHN BENJAFIELD

In 1997, the Executive Committee of the International Union of Psychological Science initiated a project to "trace the development of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), not only since its founding at the 14th International Congress of Psychology at Stockholm, 1951, but going back to 1881 when a young Polish psychologist first proposed the ideas of an international congress and of an international association of psychological societies" (p. xi). Those responsible for carrying out this project were three Honorary Life Members of the IUPsyS Executive Committee (Rozenzweig, Holtzman, & Belanger) and Michel Sabourin who had become Treasurer in 1993. Both Belanger and Sabourin are Canadians who have made notable contributions to the Union. For example, Belanger was President of the 26th International Congress of Psychology in Montreal in 1996, and Sabourin was appointed Editor of the International Journal of Psychology in 1988.

Because the project only got underway quite recently, the authors were not in a position to collect an oral history of the Union. They have relied instead on archival material, including "published proceedings of every International Congress of Psychology to date, and also the extensive archives of minutes of the Assemblies and meetings of the Executive Committees" (p. xi). Their aim was to transform this material into a book that "could be both read enjoyably" and would "contain sufficient detail for archival purposes." It should be said straightaway that they have succeeded admirably in attaining their goal.

The authors have managed to include a great deal of information, and it must be said that the result occasionally resembles a book of lists (e.g., lists of who attended the various congresses, the percentage of attendees from each country, etc.). Read from cover to cover, the book provides a very useful compendium of the proceedings of IUPsyS and its predecessors. However, few will read it from cover to cover. Rather, this will be a great book to keep close at hand and dipped into at random. The assiduous sampler will discover many very interesting things. A few of these are listed below.

A very strong feature of this book is its many photographs. Several of these have been oft reprinted before, and will certainly be familiar to most psychologists. There are other less familiar photographs of famous psychologists that are particularly interesting. For example, there is a superb portrait of Christine Ladd-Franklin (1847-1930) that helps convey those aspects of her persona that made her a formidable presence at conferences (cf. Hilgard, 1987, p. 124). Indeed, women figure very prominently in this history, many of them women who did not become as well known as Ladd-Franklin. The photograph of Jozefa Joteyko (1866-1928), a Polish scientist and the first woman appointed to the International Congress Committee, is particularly interesting in view of the fact that many women attended the early congresses, and "the announcements for the 3rd and 4th [1896 and 1900] congresses stated that women would be accorded the same rights and privileges as men" (p. 25). There are also pictures of men who may not be, but should be, familiar figures. One of these is Julian Ochorowicz (1850-1917), who is the aforementioned "young Polish psychologist [who] first proposed the idea of an international Congress."

Throughout the book there are several very useful tables that provide lists of the members of the various congresses as well as the officers of the IUPsyS. Reading these tables one cannot help but be struck by the number of great names in the history of psychology who have played central roles in the history of the organization. …

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