Margaret Floy Washburn was a strong intellectual woman, the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in psychology, was born on July 25th in Harlem in New York City to parents who strongly encouraged intellectual pursuits. Washburn was notably a teacher, however, she worked in many areas of psychology and is well-known for her contributions in theory development (including her motor theory), experimental work, animal behavior and professional service.
Besides publishing over 200 scientific articles and reviews, she translated Wundt’s Ethical Systems, 1897, and wrote two books: The Animal Mind, 1908; and Movement and Mental Imagery, 1916. Between 1905 and 1938, she published sixty-eight studies from the Vassar Psychological Laboratory-an undergraduate laboratory with 117 students as joint authors. The summers of 1913-1917 she taught psychology in the summer sessions at Columbia University; the spring of 1928 when, on her only sabbatical leave, she took a Mediterranean cruise; and the summers of 1929 and 1932 during which she traveled to England and Copenhagen.
She was cooperating editor of the Psychological Bulletin, 1909-1915; associate editor of the Journal of Animal Behavior, 1911-1917; advisory editor of the Psychological Review, 1916-1930; and associate editor of the Journal of Comparative Psychology, 1921-1935. In 1921, she was president of the American Psychological Association; that same year, she was awarded a prize of $500 by the Edison Phonograph Company for the best research on the effects of music–a study of “The Emotional Effects of Instrumental Music” in collaboration with a colleague in the Department of Music at Vassar. In 1932, she was the U.S. delegate to the International Congress of Psychology in Copenhagen.
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