Subject: Psychology and Race

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Online Exhibits

Exploring Heredity: Race, Eugenics, and the History of Intelligence Testing

Examine the history of intelligence testing in psychology, including its connections to World War I, United States immigration policy, and the eugenics movement. Learn more about this history through original documents, films, and photographs.

Open Exhibit | Access on Smithsonian Learning Lab

Five Minute History Lessons

Ruth Howard

Ruth Winifred Howard was among the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in psychology, earning her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1934. While at Minnesota she conducted research at the university’s Institute for Child Development and her dissertation, “A Study of the Development of Triplets” was the first published study or a large group of triplets of varying ages and ethnic groups. Armed with an undergraduate degree in social work and a PhD in developmental psychology, Howard practiced psychology throughout her life in a variety of settings including public schools, boards of health, medical schools, and private practice.

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Robert Guthrie and the Search for Psychology's Hidden Figures

Robert Val Guthrie was a pioneering psychologist and historian whose work, including his influential 1976 book Even the Rat Was White, shone a bright light on the contributions of Black psychologists, activists, and scholars. Guthrie grappled directly with the widespread racial stereotypes of the time in his work and confronted them directly as a young Black scholar, calling for a “revolution by the people to bring about diversity.” This video explores Guthrie’s life and work and highlights the contributions of psychology’s hidden figures.

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Lectures and Panels

Psychology Film Club: Get Out

Discussion of the 2017 film Get Out, dealing with racism, microaggressions, and race-related stress and trauma.

Length: 61 minutes

Originally recorded: February 18, 2021

Cummings Center Blog

Young People. Always at the Forefront of Change.

The Black Students Psychological Association (BSPA) was a group of young Black psychology students who took action to demand change from their field's professional organizations. This blog post covers the BSPA's work in 1969.

Contributed by: Lizette Royer Barton

“Hostile Territory”: Miami Beach and the 1957 APA Convention

Prior to the 1957 APA convention, APA leadership reached out to the organization’s Black members with a critical question: Would they attend a convention held in segregated Miami Beach, FL? This blog looks at the responses of those APA members and the circumstances surrounding the 1957 convention.

Contributed by: Tony Pankuch