Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Frank Parsons's Enablers: Pauline Agassiz Shaw, Meyer Bloomfield, and Ralph Albertson

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Frank Parsons's Enablers: Pauline Agassiz Shaw, Meyer Bloomfield, and Ralph Albertson

Article excerpt

Frank Parsons was not the 1st American to recognize or address the need tor vocational guidance. Why he, rather than his predecessors, is credited with initiating the field can be attributed to the largely overlooked contributions of 3 other persons: Pauline Agassiz Shaw, Meyer Bloomfield, and Ralph Albertson. The author calls attention to the contributions of these 3 remarkable individuals, and several others who supported them, in enabling and perpetuating Parsons's work.

As every counselor knows (e.g., Brewer, 1942; H. V. Davis, 1969; Gummere, 1988; Jones, 1994; Pope & Sveinsdottir, 2005), Frank farsons established the Held of career counseling (then called vocational guidance; Pope, 2000) by becoming the founding director and vocational counselor of the Vocation Bureau of Boston on January 13, 1908. He held this position until his untimely death on September 26 or that year. Parsons, however, was by no means the first American to recognize the need for vocational guidance or to propose ways to meet that need (Brewer, 1942). Among others who antedated his work, Lysander Richards ( 1881 ) published a book titled Vocophy, in which he proposed a new profession of vocophers, equal in training and status to doctors and lawyers, who were to be experts on the requirements of the different occupations and on assessing the abilities and interests of individuals. Vocophers thus had the knowledge and skills to inform people of the occupation in which they would be most successful. Also, from 1898 to 1907, Jesse B. Davis counseled hundreds of students in Detroit's Central High School concerning their career plans. One may therefore ask why Parsons, who worked in the field less than a year (compared with Davis's prior 10 years' work) and who died without having published a book on vocational guidance (compared with Richards's 1881 book), was accorded the preeminent position in this Held.

This article posits that it was the largely unheralded contributions of three other people that saved Parsons from the oblivion that enveloped Richards and Davis. Without the participation of Pauline Agassiz Shaw, Meyer Bloomfield, and Ralph Albertson, Parsons's work in this field would almost certainly not have come to fruition nor have survived him. The names of these three persons (plus, of course, Parsons's name on the title page, followed by the erroneously attributed degree of PhD) are the only ones that appear within the prefatory pages of Parsons's (1909) posthumously published book, Choosing a Vocation. Shaw was the person to whom the book is dedicated, Bloomfield was holder of the copyright, and Albertson was author of the introductory note to the book. This article seeks to correct the lack of recognition of the seminal role of these three individuals in the historical memory of the field of career counseling. In doing so, it also notes the contributions of several other persons who both facilitated the work of Parsons's three principal enablers and, in their own right, helped establish and perpetuate Parsons's work.

Pauline Agassiz Shaw

Parsons, his enablers, and those who supported them were all active participants in the social reform movement that flourished in liberal intellectual circles in Boston around the turn of the 20th century (Mann, 1954). Among these individuals, however, Pauline Agassiz Shaw (1841-1917) uniquely possessed the combination of wealth and foresight needed to fund the realization of Parsons's ideas about vocational guidance. Pauline Agassiz was born in Switzerland, a daughter of the world-famous Swiss naturalist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz. Soon after her father immigrated to the United States to take the position of chair of Zoology and Geology at Harvard University, he brought his family to Cambridge, Massachusetts. About 10 years later, in 1860, Pauline Agassiz married Quincy Adams Shaw, a wealthy Boston financier. She and her husband had five children, which led her to an interest in early childhood education. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.