Dr. Hugo Eckenergreenspun.com : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread
I have a reference that says that Dr. Hugo Eckener was offered the post"at the University of Toronto to set up and direct a new Department of Psychology". This would be about 1892 just after he completed his doctorate at leipzig.UofT are have no records. I note that Eckener has several references in 'Classics in the Histiry of Psychology' by J Mark Baldwin in 1901. I am looking for comfirmation of the offer from UofT. Have you any information? Regards, Don Lawson.
-- Don Lawson (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 13, 2003
I would be most interested to know what the reference is! In 1892 James Mark Baldwin was still at the University of Toronto, fervently urging the administration to hire a director of the laboratory he had set up the year before. It was all still part of the department of philosophy, however, and I have read nothing to lead me to believe that there was any talk of setting up a new department of psychology that early. The position would have been, essentially, an assistant to Baldwin. After much dawdling, the position was offered to to William O . Krohn (see http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Krohn/report.htm), who turned it down because he had already accepted another position elsewhere in the meantime. Eventually it was offerred to August Kirschmann (then Wundt's personal assistant) who, after a long delay (he was at sea for a number of months), accepted it. By the time he arrived in 1893, however, Baldwin had moved on to Princeton. Kirschmann came anyway and, after a couple more years of dawdling, was raised to the level of a professor. I'll investigate further.
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), March 13, 2003.
The reference is in Douglas Botting's book "Dr. Eckener's Dream Machine - The Historic Saga of the Round-the-World Zeppelin."Harper Collins 2001. After graduating at Berlin in Philosophy, Eckener enrolled at the Institute for Experimental Psychology under Wundt at Leipzig. His doctoral thesis was titled "Variabilities in Human Perception". The reference says "before Eckener left Leipzig at the age of 24 he was offered a post at the University of Toronto to set up and direct a new Department of Psychology."Regards, Don Lawson.
-- Don Lawson. (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 13, 2003.
I've had a chance to review some sources now. Tory Hoff's MA Thesis ("The Controversial Hiring of James Mark Baldwin at the University of Toronto in 1889," Carleton Univeristy, 1980), though mostly unpublished (but see Can Psych 1992), is the best historical work that has been done on this episode.
Hoff says that "months before" September 1892 (the relevant letters are undated, but it appears to have been in the spring or early summer, 1892) Baldwin wrote to Wundt, asking if any of his people would be interested in taking a job as a *demonstrator* (my apologies for having mistakenly written "director" before) in the Toronto lab Baldwin had set up the year before. Eckener and Kirschmann wrote to Baldwin saying they would be interested. Because they did not write to the Ontario Minister of Education George Ross, however, their names never made it on to a list of candidates that was compiled, it would appear, in mid-July 1892. Baldwin asked for the application deadline to be extended, at which point both wrote to Ross. In the meatime, however, Baldwin had decidede to back William Krohn's application. An internal battle (the "other" philosophy professor, James Gibson Hume, backed a Canadian candidate, Frederick Tracey) delayed the decision. By the time it was decided to hire Krohn (22 Sept. 1892), Krohn had accepted a position at Illinois State U. instead. Baldwin then argued for the appointment of Kirschmann (apparently over Eckener).
After letters chased Kirschmann around the world for months, he received in April 1893, in San Francisco, a letter sent 9 February 1893 offering him the job. He would have accepted it, but by that time Baldwin had already accepted a posting to Princeton. Toronto was then considering hiring E. B. Titchener in his place, but Kirschmann said he would not work for Titchener. The Titchener deal fell through (in all likelihood because Toronto couldn't/wouldn't afford him) and Kirschmann was hired at the lecturer level to replace Baldiwn, in effect. Problem was, he couldn't speak English well enough to lecture. He improved his English sufficiently by the following year (1894-95), and was made eventually raised to the level of professor in 1898.
The relevant original documents on which this account is based are in the Ministry of Education files at the Ontario Archives in Toronto.
Are you doing research in this area Don?
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), March 13, 2003.
Please forgive my ignorance on the psychology issues here. I am a film archivist from the north-east of England and have long been interested in Eckener, because of airships rather than psychology. I've always thought him an interesting figure because he worked in the shadow of Von Zeppelin (hence he is not and a household name) and because he actively opposed the Nazis at a time when Zeppelin airships were a cutting-edge technology (and thus the Nazis wanted to market them as a flagship technology, hence serious conflict).
What bought my interest in airships back was a recent access enquiry asking if we had any footage of the airship 'Graf Zeppelin', which Eckener commanded, flying over Newcastle in 1931. We haven't got any, sadly. But this bought my curiousity back: specifically, that I've always been intrigued at E not even getting involved in the career on which his reputation rests today until middle age. I was interested to read some of the responses here to the effect that he had an academic career before all of this started and that his PhD is in psychology (I always assumed it was in something to do with aeronautical engineering). Any thoughts?
-- Dr. Leo Enticknap (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 03, 2003.
I'm not sure what Leo's question was. It appears that Eckener simply lost interest in experimental psychology after earning his PhD in Wundt's lab and moved on to aeronautics. Indeed, this was not an unusual pattern. Many of the early experimental psychologists became disillusioned with it, to greater or lesser degrees. Most of them did not move as far intellectually as Eckner, but could be found working on other approaches to psychology or another science by the time they were in their 40s -- J. McK. Cattell, J. M. Baldwin, and G. S. Hall all come immediately to mind.
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), May 03, 2003.
Leo, Echener left his psychological research to join the German military for a brief period. I'm not sure why. He then devoted himself to economic studies where he wrote a book "Job Shortage or Financial Squeeze". He was also a part time journalist. He married and fortuitously moved to Friedrichshafen. It was here that Count von Zeppelin built and tested his airships. Zeppelin read Eckener's articles and met him. Eckener said he could help the Count with what these days we would call a PR and Management Consultancy. Eckener got hooked on airships and learnt to fly them. He soon became the head of the Zeppelin company. Neither Count Zeppelin nor Eckener were engineers. In fact Eckener had little interest in engineering and delegated that to Dr. Durr. It is ironic that Eckener wrote a paper "Investigations of fluctuations in the ability to attend to minimal intensity sensury stimuli" in Wundt's journal yet latter in life failed to spot all the warning signals that led to the Hindenburg crash. Dr. Eckener probably flew the Graf Zeppelin over Newcastle when he made a 3 day circumnavigation on UK starting on 18th August 1931 just after he had flown around the Arctic. Don Lawson.
-- Don Lawson. (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2003.