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Department of Psychology


The centenary of an historic moment in the establishment of psychology in Cambridge

June 4. On this day in 1912, the Cambridge University Reporter carried an account of a Discussion held in the Senate on Saturday May 25th:

"The Master of Christ's wished to say how profoundly he regretted, and he thought every member of the General Board, too, regretted, that the sum of money at their disposal was so insufficient that they could do nothing in way of payment for the Director of the Psychological Laboratory, or even find him any assistance. The latter point was really of extreme importance to Dr Myers, to whom it was due that the building, which had been largely endowed by his own family, was approaching completion. They had appointed him to be Director, but had given him no help to carry out the work, and he hoped most earnestly that as soon as possible, some small sum might be granted to him.  He had built up a new and great study.  On the Royal Commission on which he (the speaker) sat, he was always being told that the old Universities studied only the old subjects whereas the newer Universities studied new subjects. Of course it was not true, and here they had an example of a new subject that had been built up in Cambridge largely owing to the energy of a single man. He hoped the General Board would recognize that at the first opportunity..."

On the 6th of June 1912, the Senate passed a Grace formally appointing the University Lecturer in Experimental Psychology, Dr Charles Myers, as Director of the Psychological Laboratory. Myers was elected FRS in 1915, although his College, Gonville and Caius – a more exclusive society – waited until 1919 to elect him to a Fellowship.  Myers was the first President of the British Psychological Society and was a founder of the National Institute of Industrial Psychology, to which he devoted himself after 1922. If there is one person who was responsible for the institutional establishment of Psychology in Cambridge, it is C. S. Myers.

John Mollon