Books and Brains: Students visit historically significant texts related to psychology in Special Collections

Reference Professional for Special Collections Emma Sarconi walks students through the history of a text. Photo by Meghan Testerman, Princeton University Library

Over 60 Princeton University students, faculty, and staff visited the Department of Special Collections in Firestone Library to interact with and learn more about rare and historically significant texts relating to psychology and early representations of the brain. Held on Mar. 26, Mar. 28, and Apr. 2, the events, entitled “Books and Brains,” was closed to the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

The range of items shown included not only historically significant texts from Special Collections, but items from the Limited Access Collection at the Lewis Science Library as well. The materials spanned over 460 years of history and took visitors on a journey through the early modern anatomical texts of Andreas Vesalius and the father of neurology, Thomas Willis, to examples of physiognomy and phrenology from the Victorian era, to a unique mnemonic book from the Baroque period, a signed copy of President McCosh’s lectures on psychology, and a first edition of Darwin’s "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals." Guests were also given an opportunity to interact with a number of psychological tests of the mid-20th century such as Hermann Rorschach’s (in)famous inkblot test and Lipot Szondi’s “Szondi Test” which used images of patients in mental institutions to determine a subjects personality type.

The event was organized by Behavioral Sciences Librarian Meghan Testerman and Reference Professional for Special Collections Emma Sarconi.

For more information on behavioral science events, services, and resources at PUL, contact Meghan Testerman.

Written by Stephanie Ramírez, Library Communications Specialist and Staff Writer, and Meghan Testerman, Behavioral Sciences Librarian

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Library Communications Manager