Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Toronto's "Other" Orginial APA Member: James Gibson Hume

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Toronto's "Other" Orginial APA Member: James Gibson Hume

Article excerpt

Abstract

It is well known that James Mark Baldwin held a position at the University of Toronto when he assisted in the formation of the American Psychological Association in 1892, but the proceedings of the preliminary organizational meeting of the APA, held in July of that year, include the name of a second Torontonian as well, that ofJ.G. Hume. The present paper outlines the career of James Gibson Hume, who studied with G. Stanley Hall, William James, and Hugo Munsterberg, and who headed the Philosophy Department at the University of Toronto for over 30 years. He was by no means a great or influential philosopher or psychologist, but the study of his life gives some insight into what a more common philosopher-psychologist was doing and thinking during the time that Hall, James, Munsterberg, and others were revolutionizing both disciplines.

A look at the first item of the August 19, 1892 issue of Science reveals a report of the preliminary organizational meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA), held some six weeks earlier, on July 8, 1892, at Clark University. Clark University President G. Stanley Hall had sent out invitations to an unknown number of psychologists, psychiatrists, and philosophers of mind, 26 of whom agreed to join the fledgling organization. The list includes many of the luminaries of the discipline at that time. In addition to Hall, there were a number of figures who had founded the first generation of experimental psychological laboratories in the U.S.: William James from Harvard, James McKeen Cattell of Columbia, and Frank Angell, who has just moved from Cornell to Stanford. There were also Joseph Jastrow of Wisconsin, E.C. Sanford, who had moved with Hall from Hopkins to Clark, and E.W. Scripture of Yale. Not all of the original APA members were founders of laboratories - there were some philosophers as well, such as Harvard's Josiah Royce, and John Dewey, then of Michigan - but the organization was intended by Hall to be primarily a society of and for the "new breed" of scientific psychologists (see Sokal, 1992).

As is well known to Canadian historians of psychology, another member of this select group was James Mark Baldwin, who had just established the first permanent experimental psychology lab in the British Empire at the University of Toronto. Baldwin was an important member of the new organization, being immediately appointed to the first Council of the APA, a body that would oversee its early affairs. Baldwin was in the process of becoming a highly influential psychologist - he had just published the second volume of his textbook (Baldwin, 1891a), and would return to Princeton the following year. Soon thereafter he would cofound Psychological Review (with Cattell), and later Psychological Bulletin, among other achievements.

But Baldwin was not the only Torontonian on the list. In addition there was J.G. Hume, also of Toronto. We learn nothing else of Hume in the minutes of that Preliminary Meeting, and it seems unlikely, though not impossible, that he actually traveled all the way to Massachusetts to attended this short conference. (The list of names in the minutes identifies not just attendees, but "original members who were either present at this meeting or sent letters of approval and accepted membership," p. 104, italics added.) However, by counting the number of APA members at the time of the First Annual Meeting, which was held six months later, in December 1892 at the University of Pennsylvania -- namely, 31 - and looking at the list of those who were absent, which is included in the proceedings of that meeting, we can be nearly certain that Hume was in attendance, though he did not participate either as a presenter or discussant. The proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting at Columbia University in December 1893, tell us that Hume was not in attendance, but at the Third Annual Meeting, held in December 1894, at Princeton (cohosted by Baldwin, who had since left Toronto to take up a Chair at his alma mater), Hume was scheduled to give a paper on the state of psychological teaching and research at Toronto. …

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