Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Flashbacks in the History of Psychology in Canada: Some Early "Headline" Makers

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Flashbacks in the History of Psychology in Canada: Some Early "Headline" Makers

Article excerpt

Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Canadian Psychology (2001) - Prix de la Medaille d'Or pour contributions remarquables a la psychologie canadienne au cours de 1'ensemble de la carriere (2001)


This paper is about the history of developmental psychology in Canada. Its focus is on individuals who made noteworthy contributions to child psychology in the late-19th and early-20th century. Reference is made to the well-documented work of James Mark Baldwin and William Emet Blatz, but the emphasis is on the careers of less well-known pioneering child psychologists and what they did to earn special recognition. Five persons are profiled: Frederick Tracy, Katherine M. Banham, Samuel Laycock, Florence S. Dunlop, and William Line.

Last year, when I turned 85, I decided it was finally time to retire. Therefore, last summer, I packed up my papers and moved out of my little retirement office on the 9th floor of the Social Science Centre at Western. I also swore that I would never again give an address or write an article for publication. I also sent two big boxes of my papers, which were of historical value to CPA, to our new Archivist, Katalin Dzinas.

So, now, you can imagine what a "shock" it was for me to receive, in March, Gary Latham's letter informing me that CPA was planning to give me a prestigeful award at its meetings in June, and would expect me to deliver a scholarly address that would later be published in one of its journals. I was, of course, deeply touched by the honour the award bestowed, but then I panicked. What could I possibly put together in the time available that would be appropriate. For several days I read, I thought, I considered. Finally, I concluded it had to be history. Then I remembered the historical research that I had done in the 1980s, mostly for fun, only some of which had been published in a proper journal. One of the inspirations for this work was the new CPA Developmental Psychology Section and its newsletter. One day Dave Pederson, who was editing the second issue of this newsletter, walked into my office and said, "Would you produce a history of developmental psychology in Canada for my issue?" I just looked at him for a while and then replied, "There is more to tell than you seem to think." But as I pondered his request, I said, "What would you think of a little paper on a Canadian who made a significant contribution to developmental psychology in his time, but has now been forgotten?" I told him about our discovery of Frederick Tracy and his book on child psychology (Myers, 1982). Dave thought this was a fine idea and so the first of what became a series of "notes" in this newsletter about formerly famous individual psychologists was produced. In all there were 10 "notes," all published in the 1980s, as follows: Frederick Tracy (No. 1), James Mark Baldwin (No. 2), Katherine M. Banham (No. 3), William E. Blatz (Nos. 4, 5, 6, and 7), William Line (No. 8), Samuel Laycock (No. 9) and Florence Dunlop (No. 10). Needless to say it was impossible to do Blatz justice in one note.

I had a great need to tell about and write about the theoretical foundation upon which Blatz's ideas were based. He had not done this himself. In his prime, he was more focused on communicating the practical applications of his ideas to child rearing. We, his colleagues and students, begged him to write the definitive work and he agreed to do so in his final book, Human Security (Blatz, 1966), but his health failed and he did not succeed. The book was published posthumously. Mary Ainsworth, Blatz's most famous student, has been one of my close friends ever since we met in 1939, when I went to Toronto to study and was made an assistant to E.A. Bott, whose senior assistant was Mary D. Salter (later Ainsworth). Over the years, we have visited often and regularly at APA and SRCD meetings. We often talked about Blatz and she agreed the framework on which his ideas were based was known only to his students. …

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