, ,

Ashley Stewart – Member

WI2Mary Whiton Calkins was born on March 30th in 1863 in Connecticut. Calkins began her educational journey when she attended Smith College and she also studied abroad in Europe studying Greek and classic literature. After returning, she was able to get a tutoring position at Wellesley College and her teaching methods impressed a psychology professor who offered her a teaching position as long as she learned psychology for a year. She decided that she’d like to learn at Harvard University but the University’s president resisted allowing her admittance due solely to the fact that she was a woman. Some convincing allowed her to study at the university only as a guest, not a student.

One of Mary’s contributions to psychology was her invention of the paired-associations test in which stimuli paired with other vivid-stimuli created better recall from memory. She also discovered that duration had a relationship to the ability to recall information, the longer you study the better you’ll remember.

Mary was discriminated against multiple times during her education, though she was extremely bright and promising to the fields of psychology, literature, and philosophy her gender was used against her in attempts to keep men and women separated. Mary continued her education with Harvard and even met the requirements to obtain her PhD but Harvard refused to give it to her. The discrimination she faced didn’t keep her down and Mary continued to learn and educate others in the field of the psychology. She may not have been adequately appreciated during her time but as an up-and-coming psychology student I have gratitude and appreciation for everything she has provided to our field. Here’s to you, Mary Whiton Calkins, may you continue to inspire others!

APA Blog
University of Alabama