Bizarre and infamous join scholarship in an archive of Psychology

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Just 45 minutes from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, half an hour from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and two blocks from the Inventors Hall of Fame in this city's downtown is an attraction like no other. Where else but at the Archives of the History of American Psychology can visitors see the uniforms and billy clubs used in the Stanford Prison Experiment, in which students ended up acting the role of guards all too realistically; watch a home movie of Freud batting fruit out of a tree with his cane; or have the bumps on their heads measured to calculate their personalities and career prospects with a 1933 psychograph?

Forty years after its founding at the University of Akron as a national repository for scholars, the archives - psychology's attic - have amassed not only the papers of more than 740 psychologists, but also a dazzling array of their instruments, ephemera, photographs and films. Although it is a beacon to historians from around the world and the source of hundreds of scholarly articles and books, the archives remains virtually unknown to the public at large.

"Never heard of it," said the administrator of an office one floor up in the same building.

No sign on Main Street here indicates the presence of the archives in, unfittingly enough, the basement of the former Polsky department store, now a branch of the University of Akron. Not even the directory next to the elevators on the main floor lists it.

"Isn't it amazing, all this stuff down in a basement in Akron?" asked the archive director, Dr. David B. Baker, who is also a professor of psychology at the university.

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