The Informal History of HFE
The informal history consists of the memories and impressions of the people participating in the events involving HFE, the problems they recognized, and their opinions of various subjects. This chapter relies heavily on the memoirs of those who responded to questions posed by the author. The 130 individuals solicited were those selected from the HFES society's 1995-1996 Directory who had received their final degree on or before 1965 (usually the PhD in psychology, occasionally the MA or MS, and in a few cases the BA). This would include the first generation of professionals. Forty-six responses, including those of the author, were received--a 35% return, which is quite respectable for mailed questionnaire surveys.
What is involved in these recollections is not only the history of a period but also something that can be termed the concept structure of the HFE professional. This concept structure, previously discussed in chapter 2, is composed of a more or less organized set of positive, negative, and neutral beliefs about elements of the discipline. This chapter describes history reflected through a prism of attitudes developed by experience over many years. Therefore, one should expect (and the reader will find) variations in the way in which these professionals, who are part of the first-generation cohort, view their discipline. Despite this, the reader may note certain common conceptual trends.
To provide supporting information, a review was also made of the early issues of the Society's monthly bulletins, which contained such materials as letters to the editor, reports of impending conferences, demographic data, occasional editorials, and short biographies. Most of this material provided context for the memoirs.