Glossing the Body Electric:
A Review of Web Resources for Historians of Psychology

Christopher D. Green
Department of Psychology
York University
Toronto, Ontario

First posted 13 July 1998.
Last revised 20 December 2001
© 1998 by Christopher D. Green. All rights reserved.

since November 16, 1998.

N.B. The links in this essay are no longer being updated. For a more up-to-date list, see the History & Philosophy of Psychology Web Resources site.


It was only in 1991 that the World Wide Web was set up by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) based in Switzerland. In the few years since, tens of millions of sites have been established to serve the interests of everyone from scientists, government officials, and business people to movie fans, stamp collectors, and fantasy role game players. Among those millions upon millions of web sites, a few have been established with the interests of historians of psychology and their intellectual brethren at heart. It is the aim of this article to review the best of these sites.

I cannot even hope that my list is complete, if for no other reason than in the months between the time this review is posted and the time you read it, millions more sites will have been created, several of them undoubtedly of interest to historians of psychology. I will add new links to other relevant sites as I become aware of them.

This report is divided into sections corresponding sites that serve different sorts of functions:

The methodology used is described in the Appendix.


1. Sites Dedicated to Scholarly Societies, Journals, and University Programs Relevant to the History of Psychology

A number of important scholarly societies and journals relevant to the history of psychology have developed web sites over the last few years. The oldest is that of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences, which dates back to November of 1995. In addition to containing basic information about the organization and its conferences, it has a full-membership list on-line, as well as a list of references to recent publications by Cheiron members. Some of these are linked to the members' own web pages. The Cheiron site also contains a collection of syllabi of university courses in the history of various behavioral and social sciences. Finally, it contains a brief account of the story of Cheiron, the mythical Greek centaur plus a small "gallery" of artistic depictions of him (including a link to photo of his alleged grave site!).

The History of Psychology Division (26) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the History and Philosophy of Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) followed suit in December of 1995, setting up web sites of their own. That of APA Division 26 contains, in addition to basic information about its organization and conference programs, the complete text of its History of Psychology Newsletter from the fall of 1995 to its termination at the end of 1997, and a photo gallery of its current executive and past presidents. There is also a link to the site of the Divisional journal, History of Psychology, in which the Editor, Michael Sokal, has posted titles and abstracts of all published articles. The full text is available to subscribers to the APA's electronic journals service. The CPA History & Philosophy of Psychology (HPP) Section site also contains basic information about that organization, including a complete copy of its by-laws. It also has the complete text of a few issues of its History and Philosophy of Psychology Bulletin (though the practice of posting complete issues has since ceased), and a short list of teaching resources relevant to the history of psychology.

Other journals of interest to historians of psychology include the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (JHBS), and American Journal of Psychology (AJP). A site for JHBS has been set up by its publisher, Wiley, and the full text of it articles back to 1996 are available on-line through Interescience, for those whose institutions subscribe. University of Illinois Press has set up a site for AJP (edited by Donelson Dulany, U. Illinois). The title and abstractd of articles published over the past few years can be found at PubMed. In addition, AJP's Book Review Editor, Dominic Massaro (California St. U. at Santa Cruz) has set up a site at his home university that gives the titles of all the book reviews in AJP back to the mid-1980s. Other journals that are raising their profile in the area of history are Brain & Cognition and Brain & Language, both published by Academic Press. The web sites for these journals contain not only abstracts of papers dating back to 1996, but also the full texts of these articles (through Ideal Library, in .pdf format).

A major attraction for historians of psychology has recently appeared at the main APA site: PsycINFO 111, a searchable database containing abstracts from a huge international array of psychological journals dating back as far as 1887. The full text of all APA journals back to 1988 is also available on-line. There is an annual fee, ranging from $89 to $149 annually, depending on one's relation to the APA and the range of electronic services on desires. Unfortunately, there is little else of interest specifically to historians of psychology on the APA site, apart from promotions for APA-published books on the topic.

The main CPA site does not contain much that is specifically geared to historians of psychology. One exception is the complete text of a 1992 special issue of Canadian Psychology entitled "The History of Psychology in Canada." This contains eight original articles by seven different authors on various aspects the topic.

The History of Science Society web site contains tables of contents of recent volumes of their journals, Isis and Osiris, dating back to 1995. One of its most outstanding features is its extensive guide to graduate study and employment in the history of science. Other scholarly societies that have web sites that may be of interest to historians of psychology include the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences (formerly Cheiron Europe), International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (and their Journal of the History of the Neurosciences), the American Association for the History of Medicine (and their Bulletin of the History of Medicine), the Society for the Social History of Medicine (and their journal Social History of Medicine), the Society for Ancient Medicine (and their Society for Ancient Medicine Review), and the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Science. The Forum for the History of the Human Sciences has recently established a website, as has the History and Philosophy of Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society.

Of the two major North American university graduate programs in the history of psychology, those at York University and at the University of New Hampshire, only the York History & Theory of Psychology Graduate Option has a web site at present. In addition to basic information about the program, it contains pages for each of the professors in the area. These range in elaborateness from just a list of a few recent publications to extensive multi-page sites detailing teaching and research interests, publications, course structures, etc. University College Dublin's Departments of Psychology and Philosophy have recently established a web site for their Postgraduate Program in the History and Philosophy of Psychology as well. It contains basic information about the program, including application procedures, as well as a list of faculty members and their research interests. A few of the faculty have their own more detailed web pages.


2. Sites Dedicated to Historically-Significant Individuals or Topics

There are many web sites devoted to the study or popularization of significant individuals in the history of psychology. Most of these are very brief accounts, often intended primarily for the students of a particular history of psychology course. (See Yahoo!'s Social_Science/Psychology/Psychologists/ directory for a wide selection.) A few sites, however, are more extensive and significant, and I will briefly describe some of these.

Major figures of psychoanalysis are often commemorated with web pages. For instance, the A. A. Brill Library has set up a site called "FreudNet" that contains a great deal of information not only about Freud, but about psychoanalysis in general, particularly in the New York area. It has the complete text of Interpretation of Dreams on-line, as well as a number of excerpts from Freud's other writings. In addition, it has links to a number of other Freud resources on the web.

Another popular figure for web sites is Carl Jung. Donald Williams (a Jungian Analyst from Boulder, Colorado) edits a quite extensive site called the "C. G. Jung Home Page," which contains news from the world of analytical psychology, articles and editorials on issues in the Jungian approach, a glossary of Jungian terms, and links to a wide array of other Jungian organizations. Another very high quality Jung site is the beautifully designed "Jung Index," developed by Matthew Clapp (who described himself in 1998 as "an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia.... [who] is studying Cognitive Science and has plans to attend graduate school in Counseling/Clinical Psychology in the Fall"). It contains a short biography of Jung, links to many Jungian institutions and publications, and, more interestingly, a collection of 19 photographs of Jung.

A number of psychologists have developed sites dedicated to other figures in the history of psychology about whom they have a special expertise. Ed Haupt's (Montclair St. U.) page on G. E. Müller contains (1) a brief biography of the man, (2) the full text of an invited address Haupt presented at the 1995 APA convention entitled "G. E. Müller: The Shaper of Experimental Psychology," (3) a set of quotations by E. G. Boring about Müller, and perhaps most interesting of all (4) the code of BASIC program that generates the German nonsense syllables used in an 1893 study by Müller and Pilzecker.

There are also several sites dedicated to William James. The best is probably Frank Pajares' (Emory U.) "Stroll with William James," which contains a quite extensive collection of excerpts from James' writings, a few full articles (including "The Ph.D. octopus"), and the full text of Varieties of Religious Experience. It also has links to a number of biographical sketches and several other relevant sites, as well as an on-line collection of over 20 photographs of James. By contrast, R. H. Albright's (a multimedia artist in Boston) "A View of William James" is an impressionistic essay about James, focusing on several long quotations from his work.

"George's Page," the web site of "The Mead Project," is dedicated to the work of George Herbert Mead and was developed by Lloyd Gordon Ward and Robert Throop (Brock U.). It is probably the best (from an academic perspective) of the many web sites dedicated to a particular historical figure in psychology. At the heart of the site are the full texts of 90 of Mead works, including many of his most important articles. It also contains on-line supplementary documents authored a wide variety of Mead's contemporaries, including Baldwin, Cooley, Darwin, Dewey, Ladd, and W. I. Thomas. There are also links to short biographies of many of the figures mentioned in this large collection of documents, ranging from Abelard to Zeno.

Other interesting pages dedicated to a single historical individual include William Marmie's (U. Washington) site on John Dewy, Alfred Kornfeld's (Eastern Connecticut State University) page on Knight Dunlap, Greg Ransom's (MiraCosta College) extensive page on the work of Friedrich Hayek, William Verpank's (U. Tennessee, Knoxville) scholarly yet personal page about J. R. Kantor, Robert R. Downs (Stevens Institute of Technology) "F. W. Taylor Project," the web site of the Piaget Archives at the University of Geneva, and Eric M. Messick's (West Virginia U.) "B. F. Skinner Foundation."

A couple of somewhat "off-beat" but interesting pages are Linda Jean Kensick's (U. Texas) John B. Watson page, and the "Phineas Gage Information" page created by Malcolm Macmillan of Deakin Univeristy (Australia). The Watson page is overtly "celebratory," but interestingly emphasizes the stature to which he rose in the advertising industry after his career in academic psychology was over. The Gage page contains basic information about the man who famously survived a tamping iron being blown through his head in 1848, references to the most important research on the case, and photographs of the original tamping iron and of Gage's death mask. The site was orignially connected with a conference sponsored jointly by the World Federation of Neurology, the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences, and the School of Psychology, Deakin University, (Australia) that was held in Cavendish, Vermont -- near the site of the original accident -- in September 1998.

A site that holds great promise, but was still under construction at this time of this writing is the "Pictures of Health" site being developed by the Australian History World Wide Web Project, led by Paul Turnbull. The section of this very large site entitled "Body Politic" includes extensive biographical and textual resources with respect to Adolphe Quetelet, Francis Galton, T. H. Huxley, Cesare Lombroso, and Alphonse Bertillon.

The largest "clearing house" of web sites and pages dedicated to particular psychologists is the "Psychology Hall of Fame," developed by Juan C. Ramos, a student at Grinnell College. It contains over 100 links to descriptions of over 40 significant psychologists (there are multiple sites for some figures: e.g., 6 for Rogers, 7 for Jung, 7 for Timothy Leary). The quality of these sites varies widely, but "link exchanges" of this type typically let the user be the judge of these things.

In addition to sites given over to particular individuals of historical import, there are sites devoted to particular issues in the history of psychology and of related disciplines. A particularly interesting one is Murray K. Simpson's (U. Dundee) "Resources on the history of idiocy." It contains extensive bibliographies on the topic, as well as full texts of a few academic papers, both historical and contemporary.

Another site of this sort is Eric H. Chudler's (U. Washington) "Milestones in Neuroscience Research." At first glance this site appears to be a simple timeline of discoveries in neuroscience. Many of the terms and names, however, are hyperlinked to other sites that give further information about them, and it is dotted with a number of relevant pictures. Linked to this site is Chudler's "Neuroscience for Kids" site, which is a real "must-see" site (despite its not being historical in nature). It contains loads of basic information about the brain in a very digestible form, complete with projects and do-at-home labs. Rarely does such creative effort go into a web site.

James F. Hooper's (U. Alabama) "Forensic Psychiatry Resource Page" is an important resource as well. Of most significance for historians is the section on "Landmark Cases in Forensic Psychiatry," in which Hooper has summarized important law cases from the famed 1843 McNaghten (a.k.a. M'Naghten) case to a 1993 judgment involving Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals.

For those whose historical interests extend to the ancient world, there is the site called "Ancient Medicine/Medicina Antiqua," constructed and maintained by Lee T. Pearcy (Episcopal Academy). Of particular interest here are on-line hyperlinked texts of Galen's On the Natural Faculties, and On Diagnosis from Dreams, as well as links to on-line versions of the most important Hippocratic works (at M.I.T's "Internet Classics Archive").

A final issue-oriented site worthy of mention is Robert Penn Guralnick's (U. California, Berkeley) "Enter Evolution." The focus is on Charles Darwin, but there is also information about biological systematics, the history of dinosaur discoveries, the evolution of vertebrate flight, and about 25 naturalists and related scientists who contributed to the development of evolutionary theory, from Aristotle to Alfred Wegener (the developer of the theory of continental drift).


3. Electronic Books, Texts, and Museums

Increasingly, web sites are being developed that make texts available on-line that are old, hard-to-get, or just very popular. The copyright issues here have not yet been completely sorted out, and fear of running afoul of powerful publishers has led many to act cautiously in this area, posting only material that is clearly in the public domain (though see Stevan Harnad's on-line article, "Electronic Scholarly Publication: Quo Vadis?"). There is more public domain material in psychology, however, than most people realize. The standard criterion in the U.S. is that published material reverts to the public domain 75 years after publication. The copyright holder must renew the rights in the middle of this period, however. Thus, according to Karen Thomas, journal permissions officer for APA, all APA journals published in 1962 and before are now in the public domain, with the exception of some 1962 Psychological Monograph issues (personal communication, June, 1996). According to the permissions editor for University of Illinois Press, Cynthia Mitchell, the contents of all volumes of the American Journal of Psychology published through 1949 (vols. 1-62) are in the public domain (personal communication, March, 1997).

This gives a fair bit of latitude to the historian of psychology, and it is with this information in hand that I launched the "Classics in the History of Psychology" web site. At the time of this writing, it contained over 60 books and articles of historical import to psychology, and over links to over 100 additional relevant primary source documents at other sites. It also contains introductions and commentaries on some of theses texts, primarily intended for use by students in history of psychology courses. The texts are indexed by author's name, by general topic, and by date of publication. At 60,000 "hits" per month (as of March 1999), it is rapidly becoming a standard reference for many students and professors of the history of psychology

Another good source for on-line texts is Pietro Di Miceli's "Project Gutenberg." The emphasis in this site is on literature, rather than academic work, but there are a number of texts that would be of interest to the historian of psychology, including writings by Darwin, Descartes, Dewey, DuBois, James, LeBon, Marx, Spinoza, and Veblen.

Although, in general, personal web pages have been excluded from this review, I must mention Robert M. Young's (U. Sheffield. ) "On-line Archive" which contains the full texts of over 100 of Young's articles on topics ranging from the history of evolutionary theory to that of psychoanalysis; and from the effects of Marxism on science to the social effects of modern technologies like television and the internet. It also contains the full texts of five of his books, including Mind, Brain and Adaptation in the Nineteenth Century: Cerebral Localization and Its Biological Context from Gall to Ferrier, a true classic in the field.

Another excellent textbook that is on the web is Mind and Body: René Descartes to William James, by Robert H. Wozniak (Bryn Mawr College) and Eugene Taylor, (Harvard U.). It is divided into three multi-chapter parts. The first covers the philosophy of the mind-body relation between the 17th and 19th centuries. The second examines the rise of experimental methods, and their impact on the view of the mind-body relation. The third traces the development of American psychology, particularly focusing on the impact of William James' work.

Recently, Robert Wozniak also edited a set of reprints of 50 of the most significant books in the history of psychology. The set, entitled Classics in Psychology, 1855-1914 (Thoemmes, 1998), includes works by everyone from Bain to Wundt, from scientists and philosophers alike, including translations of German and French works, as well as English and American works. Although the collection itself has not been put on-line, an accompanying collection of essays, written by Wozniak himself, introducing each of the works and their authors, has been. It is entitled Classics in Psychology, 18551914 Historical Essays and is an excellent resource in its own right.

A relatively new phenomenon on the web is the electronic museum; a site primarily devoted to photographs of objects of historical interest. The Lifschitz Psychology Museum claims to be "The World's First Virtual Museum of Psychology," having been established February 1, 1996 by Marvin Lifschitz, a New York psychoanalyst. Its history of psychology exhibit presents a sketchy and somewhat idiosyncratic account of some of the main events of the discipline from the founding for Wundt's lab, to the publication of Syntactic Structures by Noam Chomsky. Several of the key terms and names are linked to short descriptions. Generally, the content is quite elementary, though some of it is still under construction, and so may improve with time.

Much more academically interesting is the "Museum of the History of Psychological Instrumentation" by Edward J. Haupt (Montclair St. U.) and Thomas B. Perera (Columbia U.), which displays drawings of almost 100 of the psychological instruments shown in the 1903 Eduard Zimmermann catalogue. Each picture is accompanied by a short description of the function of the instrument pictured, and the site contains a little essay about Zimmermann and his scientific instrument business. In collaboration with Peter Balsam, Perera has also established a Web Museum at Barnard College, Columbia University that contains color photographs of 13 instruments unsed in the early days of the Barnard College psychology lab. These include a Hipp chronoscope, a vertical kymograph, and one unknown apparatus that still awaits identification.

In a somewhat similar vein, David Pantalony has established "University of Toronto Museum of Psychological Instruments." This site traces James Mark Baldwin's founding of the psychological laboratory at Toronto in 1889, and its development under the leadership of August Kirschmann in both words and pictures. Central to the collection are color photographs of 22 of the lab's actual instruments, including a Gravity Chronometer, a Hipp Chronoscope, three types of Kymograph, and a couple "mystery" instruments. Pantalony has now moved on the physics department at Toronto, and intends to create a similar web museum dedicated the their old instruments.

One fascinating, if eccentric, member of this category is the web site of the "Museum of Jurrasic Technology," which is physically housed in Culver City, California. Among its exhibitions is one entitled, "Tell the Bees... Belief, Knowledge and Hypersymbolic Cognition," and another putatively about the life work of Madelena Delani, a singer of art songs and operatic material, and Geoffery Sonnabend, a neurophysiologist and memory researcher who's three volume work Obliscence: Theories of Forgetting and the Problem of Matter is said to "stand as a milestone in the field." Surrealism, satire, and post-modernism have been combined to produce this extraordinary site.


4. Web Sites of Traditional Archives, Libraries, Museums, and Collections

A number of traditional archives, libraries, and museums have established web sites as well. Mostly these are not resources in themselves, except that they are useful for finding out about the goals, contents, and procedures of the institution itself. For instance, the web site of the Archives of American Psychology in Akron contains quite a lot of information about its history, holdings, and organization, focusing particularly on what the potential donor will need to know in advance. None of the contents of the archive itself are on-line, however. The web site of the Freud Museum in London gives a little history of the house, the hours and admission charge of the museum, and has a photo of the famed couch on which Freud's patient lay while being analyzed.

Typical of this sort of site is the Manuscript Collections of the Humanistic Psychology Archive, established at University of California at Santa Barbara in 1986. The web site includes a listing of the names of about 40 of the nearly 200 collections the archive holds. These include collections relating to the Association for Humanistic Psychology, as well as the papers of famed humanistic psychologists such as Abraham Maslow and Carl R. Rogers. None of the primary material of the archive is available on-line, however. Nor are any publications based on that material.

At what is, perhaps, the opposite end of the disciplinary spectrum in psychology is the site of the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Computing at the University of Minnesota. This site is somewhat more extensive than most of its type. It includes pages not only on the collections available at the Institute and fellowships that the Institute sponsors, but also information on how to obtain reprints from the History of Computing series, and a section on how to read obsolete digital media (which might be of particular interest to the historian of cognitive science), among others. There is also a "mirror" of the Cray Virtual Museum of computer equipment, and a photo gallery of famous computers of the past.

The web site of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine is one of the most highly developed sites of this type, but because so many folks misspell the word "welcome" near the beginning of their web pages, it can be a little difficult to locate using the regular search engines. Although the Wellcome Institute's focus is the history of medicine, there is quite a lot for the historian of psychology as well. The site contains detailed information on a wide variety of the Institute's activities: its eight collections of historical material (including a photographic library), its academic programs in collaboration with University College London, and its many publications. Unfortunately, as with most sties of this sort, none of the primary source material one might want from the Institute is on-line.


5. Miscellaneous Other Sites of Interest

A number of sites that might be of interest to historians of psychology do not neatly fit into any of the categories covered thus far. One of these is Warren Street's (Central Wahington U.) "Today in the History of Psychology," a site in which the user selects any date of the calendar, and is provided with a list of two or three events in psychology's past that occurred on that date. For instance, using my own birthdate of September 29, I found out that:

1884 James McKeen Cattell brought a Remington Model 4 typewriter to Leipzig. Wilhelm Wundt, fascinated, obtained one for himself and increased his already prodigious scholarly output.

1958 Joseph V. Brady's article "Ulcers in Executive Monkeys" was published on this day in Scientific American.

1963 The APA's Focus on Behavior series began on National Educational Television. The series was narrated by APA Executive Officer John Darley, and the first show was "The Conscience of a Child."

Not exactly earth-shattering stuff, but good fun and occasionally genuinely useful.

A site that is of great use for teachers of the history of psychology is Miriam E. Joseph's (St. Louis U.) "Library Guide: History of Psychology." This site presents complete references to 15 categories of encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, other essential reference books, and basic informational readings for use by the student doing major research on the history of psychology. Each reference includes a brief annotation describing the contents of the source. In all, there are over 100 sources listed.

A number of sellers of used academic books -- some of whom have "real" stores and some of whom do not -- have developed web sites to help sell their wares. Some of the best known (to attendees of Cheiron meetings) are Ryan D. Tweeny's "Avebury Books" and Robert J. Wozniak's " Scholarly Books" (formerly "Epistemologist"). Another that has very good selection and pricing that I discovered only while researching this review is E. J. Hammond's "Brainbooks." Other interesting sites include those of "John Gach Books" (specializing in psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, Neuroscience & Philosophy) and Tory Hoff's "Therapeutic Bibliotheca."

A final type of site that can be useful is that which contains mostly links to other sites. Many of these are yoked to undergraduate history of psychology courses, such as Anthony Walsh's (Salva Regina College) "Resources in the History of Psychology." It contains a wide array of links to other sites, many of them mentioned above in this review, but others not (including a Museum of London site commemorating the 750th anniversary of Bedlam). Another good site of this sort is David G. Likely's (U. New Brunswick) "The History of Psychology," which contains, in addition to a large set of links to important sites, a few interesting pedagogical devices. One of these is Likely's "Not-a-Reading-List" in which the titles and authors of historically-significant psychology books have been scrambled, and are to be arranged correctly by the student. A third site like this is Harold O. Kiess' (Framingham State College) "History and Systems of Psychology." In addition to a long list of links (including one to a bibliography on women in psychology; another to a short biography of Charles Henry Turner (1867-1923), an early African-American animal behavior researcher who taught at Clark College), Kiess has set up an entertaining web-based trivia test in the history of psychology.

Several other excellent lists of links are not explicitly yoked to courses. One is the "History and Philosophy of Psychology Web Resources," which is shared by APA Divisions 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology ) and 26 (History of Psychology), the Canadian Psychological Association Section for the History and Philosophy of Psychology, Cheiron, and the International Society for Theoretical Psychology. Its list of more than 60 links is divided into four sections corresponding to (1) professional societies & university programs, (2) archives, collections, & additional links, (3) on-line books, journals, & other texts, and (4) books for sale. Another such site is Bill House's (U. South Carolina, Aiken) "The History of Psychology," a site that contains links to many on-line texts relevant to the history of psychology, from the Code of Hamurabi and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, through to works from James, Dewey, and Freud. Of particular note, it contains excerpts from works not usually included in the "Western Canon" such as the Bhagavad-Gita, the Torah, works by Confucius and Lao-Tse, and the Quran. A final site of this sort devoted to a topic closely related to the history of psychology is Henk van Setten's (U. Nijmegen) quite extensive "History of Education Site" which contains links to dozens of other sites that would be interest to the educational historian.

In addition, there are, of course, the large "clearing houses" of psychology links. These sometimes have a few links of interest to historians of the discipline. Athabasca University's "Psych Centre," for instance, has developed 20 pages of links about many aspects of psychology (that also appear in the Canadian Psychological Association web site under the title "Psychology Gateway"). One of these 20 pages is dedicated to the history of psychology, and it contains about 20 links. Russell A. Dewey's (Georgia Southern U.) "PsychWeb" has little specifically on the history of psychology, but does have on-line editions of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and James's Varieties of Religious Experience. John Nichols' (Tulsa Junior College) "MegaPsych" and Ken Stange's (Nippising U.) "Psyc Site" have links to hundreds of sites as well, but little specifically for historians.


6. Conclusion: An Immodest Proposal

In casual discussion I have heard many complain that the quality of information available on the World Wide Web is not of a high-enough level to make it worth their while to pursue. There is a certain amount of truth to this. The signal/noise ratio on the web is low, to be sure, but this is a far cry from the oft-intended implication that there is nothing of worth out there, particular when you consider just how much web material there is all told. Allow me an analogy: there is an enormous warehouse bookstore in Toronto. About 90% of what it sells is of little interest to me -- pulp fiction, coffee table books, self-help, etc. -- but I still go to the store regularly. The reason is that even the remaining 10% of the stock in which I might be interested holds more material than most other whole bookstores in the city. In short, if I know where to find it, I can often get what I want there. The trick with the web, is knowing how to find what you want. Articles like the present one (and its associated table) are intended precisely to make that job easier.

It seems that the web suffers from a problem similar to that suffered by paperback books earlier in this century. Back then any "serious" book would be hardbound. Being paperbound was thought to indicate that the material contained within was a ephemeral as the book itself. We have since gotten over that prejudice; many of the best academic treatises now eventually find their way into paperback editions. Some are even launched that way. A similar tale can be told about the web. Being on the web does not, in and of itself, say anything at all about the material. It is up to those of us who use high-quality academic material to turn the capabilities of the web to our needs. The "hard" sciences learned this lesson early on -- recall that the web was originally conceived as a way for physicists to communicate their discoveries to a worldwide audience in the fastest possible way. With a little pushing from vanguards like Stevan Harnad -- the Editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Psycoloquy, and now CogPrints -- even psychology has begun to follow suit. As mentioned above, the full text of all APA journals went on-line this year. In addition, Academic Press has put all their journals on-line. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science did so two years ago.

In addition to putting their journals on-line, historians must be prepared to work to put their primary materials on-line as well. Not only will this simplify matters for the historical researcher (who would, say, be able to look up that rare, early article by Hull immediately and from the comfort of her own desk, without yet another trip to the library, or waiting for the interlibrary loan order to come through). The impact on the teaching of history of psychology will be tremendous as well. Being at a small school with a small library will no longer prevent students from getting hold of the material they need for their own research (and it will effectively block excuse #1: "the library doesn't have it"). Since this kind of material is largely already in the public domain, the only serious obstacle to its being made available on the web is the will to do it (and the cost of research assistants to do it).

Indeed, libraries themselves might begin to put their materials on-line if the money can be made available for them to do it. I believe that the Melon Foundation currently supports several such projects. Archives, as well, must begin to think differently about their collections. Simply posting scanned images of portions of their collections (perhaps charging patrons who want to have particular documents scanned and posted) could revolutionize historical research, reducing the need for repeated travel to distant, difficult-to-access collections (of course, we wouldn't want to eliminate that need entirely!).

The change in mindset required may seem profound, but the benefits for the discipline could be truly outstanding. Of course, what I have proposed is idealistic, and no one can realistically expect it to happen in the very near future, but ideals are what should guide our concrete actions. If we let the ideals I have outlined here guide our actions, our future will be one in which historical research is both better and easier.


APPENDIX

In this appendix, I describe the methodology used to compile the list of web sites here reviewed. First, I depended on my two years of experience scouring the web for sites relevant to the history of psychology. In addition, I conducted a series of web searches specifically for this project. An Alta Vista search for "history psychology" revealed more than 200,000 sites. I examined the first 200 of these, by which time the relevance of the sites had begun to diminish considerably. I also followed the links on these initial 200 sites to other relevant ones that had not been included in the original search set (obviously not all sites relevant to the history of psychology contains the exact terms "history" and "psychology"). I decided not to include publishers' sites that simply announce the release of books about the history of psychology. In addition, I ignored sites intended primarily for students in specific history of psychology courses. Although I had initially hoped to find one or more full history of psychology courses on-line, I did not find any that went much beyond superficial outlines and a few pictures. Two exceptions were the course-related sites of Harold O. Kiess (Framingham St. College) and David G. Likely (U. New Brunswick), which contain large amounts of ancillary materials (see Section 5c of the present article; for links to a wide array of other courses, see "World Lecture Hall"). I also ignored pages concerned with the histories of particular psychology departments, though these are common, particularly among schools in the UK. I similarly ignored most personal home pages caught in the initial search. One of the most frequent findings was of sites dedicated to the study (or at least celebration) of particular figures important to the history of psychology (e.g., Freud, Jung). I therefore also conducted searches on the names of some of the more significant of such figures (e.g., Wilhelm Wundt, Francis Galton, B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget). These searches ultimately revealed relatively little not found in the initial search.

I then conducted a second search on "history psychology" using Lycos. This revealed very few sites not seen in the earlier Alta Vista search. Finally, I sent out requests to the e-mail lists of Cheiron and of the History & Philosophy of Psychology Section (formerly Section 25) of the Canadian Psychological Association. (N.B. the History of Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association did not have such a list at the time of this writing.) Return messages drew my attention to a few sites I had not previously discovered.