5 Minute History Lessons

5 Minute History Lessons are a series of short films about interesting people and stories from the Archives of the History of American Psychology. Included with each video are classroom teaching resources such as scavenger hunts and discussion activities for high school and college level students and educators.

Materials included in each video, including media and archival documents, are intended for educational use. These materials may not be reproduced elsewhere.

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A man peering down into an illuminated tray in a laboratory

Episode 1: James V. McConnell

James V. McConnell was an experimental psychologist who spent his career at the University of Michigan. He is best known for his work in comparative psychology and his memory transfer research flat worms. But did you know he was also a target of the Unabomber?

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Keywords: comparative psychology, animal psychology, experimental psychology

Postcard image of a large brick college building

Episode 2: 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

Keywords: child development, developmental psychology, Black psychology, applied psychology; women in psychology

Boys gathered outside at a campsite

Episode 3: Robbers Cave

Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif’s (1954) “Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The Robbers Cave experiment” is one of the most well-known and cited studies in the history of social psychology. Learn more about the Eagles and the Rattlers (and the Panthers and the Pythons before them), intergroup conflict, and super ordinate goals through archival film and audio, photographs, and primary source documents from the famous study.

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Keywords: social psychology, classic studies, ethics, research methods, group behavior, conflict

Sepia photo of a man, Edmund Delabarre

Episode 4: Edmund Delabarre

Edmund Delabarre was appointed as the first professor of psychology at Brown University in 1891 and shortly thereafter established Brown’s psychological laboratory. Delabarre painstakingly studied “substance-induced consciousness” using only himself as his subject. Delabarre ingested cannabis in liquid form and detailed his visual and sensory experiences and responses to early laboratory equipment in meticulous detail. His control? His own normal state.

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Keywords: experimental psychology, introspection, altered brain

Side-by-side photos of Leta and Harry Hollingworth

Episode 5: A Love Story of Academic Proportions: The Leta and Harry Hollingworth Story

Harry and Leta Stetter Hollingworth are critical figures in the history of applied psychology – Harry for his work in industrial/organizational psychology and Leta for her work in clinical psychology, psychology of women, and gifted education. Both researched and published widely while teaching psychology, Harry at Barnard College and various city clubs and Leta at Columbia’s Teachers College. Their influence on early applied psychology cannot be denied, and theirs was a great love story to boot.

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Keywords: applied psychology, clinical psychology, gifted education, intelligence, industrial/organizational psychology, women in psychology

David Boder standing next to a microphone

Episode 6: David Boder

Psychologist David P. Boder is primarily known for making the first voice recordings of Holocaust survivors. His research centered around trauma and using a wire recorder he recorded the stories of displaced persons in Europe following WWII (1946) and later in the United States after the Kansas City Flood (1951).

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Keywords: trauma, clinical psychology, oral history, World War II, Holocaust

Black and white photo of Robert Guthrie

Episode 7: 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

Keywords: Black psychology, history of psychology, scientific racism, psychology education