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How Foundations Created Academia

The experimental psychology laboratories that spread throughout the U.S. universities at the turn of the 20th century were nearly exact replicas of those first created at Leipzig University under Wundt in 1879;

“Naturally Leipzig became the Mecca of students who wished to study the “new” psychology – a psychology that was no longer a branch of speculative philosophy, no longer a fragment of the science of physiology, but a novel and daring and exciting attempt to study mental processes by the experimental and quantitative methods common to all science. For the psychology of Leipzig was, in the [eighteen] eighties and nineties, the newest thing under the sun. It was the psychology for bold young radicals who believed that the ways of the mind could be measured and treated experimentally – and who possibly thought of themselves, in their private reflections, as pioneers on the newest frontier of science, pushing its method into reaches of experience that it had never before invaded.” (Heidbreder op. cit., 94,95) And the person that everyone went to Leipzig to study under is still considered to be one of the leading figures in the development of psychology today, even ahead of Sigmund Freud, yet hardly anyone has heard of him. His name was Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt. Wundt graduated from the Heidelberg University as a medical doctor in 1856 and remained there for nearly 20 years – first as a professors assistant and later as a professor himself. After a short stay as professor of philosophy at the University of Zurich, he finally arrived at Leipzig University in 1875; it is during his forty-five year career at Leipzig that Wundt established the worlds first psychological research laboratory and initiated the worlds first Ph.D. system in psychology. Due to Wundt’s pioneering efforts, the University of Leipzig quickly gained world wide notoriety as a school for psychological study. In total, Wundt was responsible for awarding 184 doctorates to students between 1875 and 1919 including 70 foreigners and 18 Americans. He also published the journal, Philosophical Studies later to be named Psychological Studies.(1)

(Duane Hayes) The list of men who studied under, or received their Ph.D under Wundt and then proceeded to establish experimental laboratories of their own at American Universities is a long one and include some of the most recognizable names in, not only psychology, but also education: Granville Stanley Hall at Johns Hopkins and Clark University; James McKeen Cattell at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University; Walter Dill Scott at Northwestern University; Charles Hubbard Judd at Yale, New York University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Chicago; James Earl Russell at the University of Colorado and the Teacher’s College at Columbia University; James Mark Baldwin at the University of Toronto and Princeton Universities; Edward Bratford Titchener at Cornell; William Lowe at Illinois University; Olin Templin at Kansas University; Harry Kirke Wolfe at the University of Nebraska; Andrew C Armstrong at Wesleyan University; Frank Angell at Cornell and Stanford; Edward Wheeler Scripture at Columbia University; Lightner Witner at the University of Pennsylvania; George T.W. Patrick at the University of Iowa; Harlow Stearns Gale at the University of Minnesota; George Malcolm Stratton at the University of California Berkeley; and August Kirschmann at University of Toronto.

The experimental psychology laboratories that spread throughout the U.S. universities at the turn of the 20th century were nearly exact replicas of those first created at Leipzig University under Wundt in 1879; and this development is considered to be the single most important contributing factor to psychology being accepted as a legitimate scientific study within western academia. This new laboratory approach to psychology also served as the impetus for later advancements in the experimental study of human conditioning and behavior by Ivan Pavlov, BF Skinner and John B. Watson. The above list of leading Americans who studied under Wundt were seen as pioneers of a burgeoning field of scientific study and they found little difficulty in securing positions of influence at major American universities; each of them contributing substantially to the world of experimental psychology. They would also serve as invaluable proponents or advocates of experimental psychology within the scientific community, pushing its legitimacy and efficacy by becoming editors and publishers of their very own periodicals, journals, newspaper articles, magazines, leaflets and pamphlets.

At any rate they threw themselves into their tasks with industry and zest. They became trained introspec-tionists and, adding introspection to the resources of the physiological laboratories they attempted the minute analysis of sensation and perception. They measured reaction-times, following their problems into numerous and widespread ramifications. They investigated verbal reactions, thus extending their researches into the field of association. They measured the span and the fluctuations of attention and noted some of its more complex features in the “complication experiment”…In their studies of feeling and emotion they recorded pulse-rates, breathing-rates, and fluctuations in muscular strength, and in the same connection they developed methods of recording systematically and treating statistically the impressions observed by introspection. They also developed psychophysical methods and in addition made constant use of resources of the physiological laboratory.

And throughout all their endeavors they were dominated by the conception of a psychology that should be scientific as opposed to speculative; always they attempted to rely on exact observation, experimentation, and measurement. Finally when they left Leipzig and worked in laboratories of their own – chiefly in American and German universities – most of them retained enough of the Leipzig impress to teach a psychology that, whatever the subsequent development of the individual’s thought, bore traces of the system which was recognized at Leipzig as orthodox. (Heidbreder, op. cit., 94-5.)

Granville Stanley Hall was a giant among the early education reformers and the first American to learn under Wilhelm Wundt at Leipzig before returning to heavily influence the American education system.(2) Hall’s main interests and contributions were in childhood development, evolutionary theory, and their various applications to education. He joined the newly established Johns Hopkins University in 1883, working with his former instructor William James and contemporary James McKeen Cattell. He established the first psychology lab at John Hopkins(3), modelling it after the much respected Wundtian laboratory at Leipzig and like Wundt, Hall created an impressive amount of literature to compliment his practical experimentation. Hall established the American Journal of Psychology, editing the Pedagogical Seminary after 1892, the American Journal of Religious Psychology and Education after 1904, and the Journal of Race Development after 1910, while writing books like Aspects of German Culture (1881), and The Contents of Children’s Minds on Entering School (1894). He also originated the Journal of Applied Psychology(4) and wrote Youth: Its Education, Regiment, and Hygiene in 1906, and Educational Problems in 1911.(5) In 1917 he wrote, Jesus, the Christ, in the Light of Psychology in which he made public his reformist beliefs when writing that “Man was the only true divinity”. However, his most well known work is the two volume, Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion, and Education in 1904 and it is with this book that Hall is credited with coining the term ‘adolescence’. Additionally it is important to note that this book on adolescence was published in an era when child labor laws and compulsory education were both being enacted, and the high school was quickly becoming the largest growing educational institution of the early twentieth century. If children were being freed from the constraints of labor, Hall believed there would be need for an alternative institution within which the youth could be controlled.

Hall’s approach to education was to indoctrinate students into having selfless ideals of: service, patriotism, body culture, military discipline, love of authority, and devotion to the state while he consistently argued against intellectual attainment at all levels of public education and did not tolerate open discussion or critical opinions. To Hall, students needed to be indoctrinated in order to save them from the individualism that was so damaging to the progress of American culture. Having no sympathy for the sick, poor or people with disability, Hall was an advocate of forced sterilization and selective breeding; believing any charity given to the weak only disrupted or delayed the evolution of natural selection towards a super-race. He despised the thought of education for girls, stating on page thirty-five of The Ideal School as Based on Child Study that education for girls was “wrong and vicious” and “every girl should be educated primarily to become a wife and mother”, and in his letter to George A. Bullock, he elaborated on the topic,

“I am strongly opposed to giving women the slightest foothold in the college…I feel that they would crowd out the best men…”(6)

Hall’s, Adolescence was written with the intent of it becoming a guide for teachers and social workers within the education system and his most direct influence in shaping our view of education came from his theories regarding adolescence. One of his more telling essays, this one from The Education of the Will, Hall writes that, “The only duty of small children is habitual and prompt obedience”(7)

Hall would eventually leave his work at Johns Hopkins University unfinished due to a conflict in curriculum and would become the first president of Clark University in 1889. While at Clark he was famously influential in the field of psychology, and it is worth noting that Hall was responsible for Sigmund Freud’s one and only visit to the United States in the late summer of 1909. Freud and Carl Jung would deliver multiple lectures at Clark University which was also attended by William James, A. A. Brill, James McKeen Cattel and E.B. Titchener. Thus it is here that we see evidence of the co-mingling of pursuits between that of psycho-analytics and educational psychology. In fact Hall greatly admired Freud and had read all of his work. The latter half of Hall’s life was largely influenced by Freud, as evidenced by one of his many personal letters to the Austrian psychiatrist:

I think I have read about everything you have ever written, although in my limitations, there is much that I did not understand, and a little which, if I did understand it alright I have to question. Nevertheless, I owe to you almost a new birth of intellectual interest in psychology, as is perhaps best shown in my Jesus Book, which, without this, would not have been written.”(8)

Hall, inspired by Darwin’s evolutionary theory and the eugenics movement, was an advocate of social-Darwinism – Hall believing that the “lower races” should be given the chance to adapt and accept the “superior white race”(9). When one looks back at the totality of Granville Stanley Hall’s work, its hard to ignore his racist, eugenicist, male chauvinist traits; and its equally hard not to see, through his massive influence as one of the main figures in education reform, how these personal stereotypes and prejudiced beliefs couldn’t help but be implemented into society. While Hall does receive considerable admiration from the conventional establishment for changing the natural trajectory of education, I believe as Lawrence Cremin does when he wrote regarding Hall, that “he injected into the mainstream of American educational thought some of the most radical – and I happen to think virulent – doctrines of the twentieth century, and there is no understanding the present apart from his contribution.”(10) In total, Hall would award one hundred and forty-nine doctorates under his tutelage at Johns Hopkins and Clark Universities.

James McKeen Cattell was another leading figure in the development of the science of psychology. Cattell was Wundt’s first assistant and in 1886, would be the first American to receive his Ph.D in experimental psychology at Leipzig. In 1887, following his time at Leipzig, Cattell traveled to England and lectured at the prestigious Cambridge University where he met Francis Galton – Charles Darwin’s cousin – who was busily developing anthroprometric tests similar to those being carried out at Leipzig like: the measurement of skull size, visual acuity and reaction time. Cattell was impressed with Galton’s structuralist approach to psychology as well as his perspective on eugenics. Galton believed that “a man’s natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world.”(11) Here we see another early attempt by the education reformers to fallaciously impart Darwin’s theory of evolution onto the social structure of humanity by believing that a persons success or failures in life were largely determined by their genetics and inheritance; something we know today to be categorically false.

It is from Cattell’s early studies that we see the development of the first mental tests: color perception, pain sensitivity, visual after images, memory, and mental imagery. It is also during this era that Cattell would travel back to the United States on occasion to lecture at the University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College late in 1887. While at the University of Cambridge Cattell developed one of the first psychological laboratories in the country(12), designed after Wundts model at Leipzig.

After returning to the States permanently in 1889, James McKeen Cattell filled the position of Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and would begin to administer the first psychological testing on large groups of people at Columbia University. The next year he returned to the University of Pennsylvania as chairman of the department of psychology establishing another experimental laboratory(13,) and in 1891 became the director at the department of psychology at Columbia(14). He would co-found the American Psychological Association in 1892, becoming its president in 1895 (15); while also taking responsibility for the department of anthropology from 1896 to 1902 and the department of philosophy from 1902 to 1905.(16)

Like Hall, Cattell was prolific in the promotion of the new science of experimental psychology. He became the first psychologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He and James Mark Baldwin founded The Psychological Review,(17) and Cattell was instrumental in creating the journal, Science, which was the official publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.(18) Cattell had his very own printing press and at the beginning of the 20th century would put it to good use becoming editor-in-chief and publisher of the Popular Science Monthly,(19) which would eventually become Popular Science while also founding the Archives of Psychology(20). In 1908 he assumed control of the American Naturalist(21) and in 1915 he created a weekly publication called School and Society(22). Cattell also wrote for American Men of Science; Leaders in Education; and The Directory of American Scholars(23). All of these literary efforts working to firmly supplant psychology into the collective minds of American science for good. And by no means is this list exhaustive, Cattell continued to write, publish and edit prolifically throughout his career.

He supervised 344 doctoral candidates during his quarter century at Columbia University and forty-six members of the American Psychological Association received their Ph.D. during his tenure. More students received their doctorate at Columbia under his leadership than at any other time in the school’s history. Cattell left just as much of a lasting impression on his students as he did on the discipline of psychology itself and is one of, if not the leading figure in the continuation of Wundtian experimental psychology in the United States. James McKeen Cattell died on January 20, 1944. 

James Mark Baldwin would receive his Ph.D under Wundt at Leipzig in 1885(24), and return to the States to re-open the psychology laboratory at Johns Hopkins after it had closed due to the departure of Hall to Clark University. He is also credited with the development of the first experimental psychology lab at Princeton. Baldwin would become one of the more preeminent psychologists of his day – voted the fifth most influentialn 1903 – he literally wrote the book on psychology. Baldwin advanced a curriculum from which future aspiring psychologists would study by producing a two volume textbook entitled the Handbook of Psychology in 1889. In that same year, upon his appointment as the professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, he faced considerable public backlash from a predominantly nativist sentiment among Canadians who, at the time, did not favor the introduction of a German education system. Despite the public discontent and a fire that would destroy the University College, Baldwin would establish the first psychology research laboratory in Canada(25). In 1892, he was a founding member of the American Psychology Association becoming its sixth president in 1897, and starting in 1893 he began a ten year career at Princeton University becoming professor of the psychology and philosophy departments while also founding Princeton’s original experimental research laboratory.(26)

Baldwin would also be a proponent of social Darwinism co-writing two works with JamesMcKeen Cattell, Mental Development in the Child and Race in 1895 and Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Developments in 1897. He would also edit Cattell’s Psychological Review. Baldwin would be one of the first to administer experiments on children applying Darwin’s theory of evolution to child development. Baldwin would join the psychological department at Johns Hopkins in 1903, and edit works from over 60 philosophers and psychologists in his three volume Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology in association with Johns Hopkins University; while also advising the National University of Mexico between 1906 and 1911.

By the beginning of World War I, Wundtian psychology was on the decline, having largely been buried both by Gestaltism, which was emanating from out of the Berlin School of Experimental Psychology, and Freudian psychoanalytics from Austria. The appearance of functionalism and behaviorism popularized by B.F. Skinner and Pavlov were proving far more popular than anything coming out of Germany; the American psychological community had now grown to dwarf that of Germany and global prestige and notoriety had shifted to the shores of the United States. American psychologists began using techniques and methods further advanced from those that had been previously taught at Leipzig.

Upon reflection we clearly see a pattern of eugenics-based, anti-American, racist beliefs permeating the minds of the early education reformers. These men who, upon receiving their Ph.D’s from a Prussian University, would come back to North America to create a web of experimental psychology laboratories throughout western academia with the unconstitutional intent of destroying free will and subsuming the individual into society. Every major university would adopt a psychology department in the immediate years following the turn of the century and the centerpiece was the Wundtian experimental laboratory. By 1915, nearly every U.S. university had a psychology department and was led by someone who either trained directly under Wilhelm Wundt or was directly trained by the men who were.

Furthermore, when we employ by way of a historical study of the late 19th century and early 20th, we can prove through primary source material, a distinct, deliberate effort funded by the large Foundations – Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie and Peabody – to adopt a Prussian universal education system across the United States (see Philanthropic Foundations and Why They Are A Problem). At the same time we now see the development of a burgeoning experimental psychology industry being systematically instituted into every major university in America with funds being primarily focused on understanding the human mind and child psychology. This, as we will see below, was also funded by the large foundations of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford as well as sub groups affiliated to these larger entities namely: The Social Science Research Council, The Institute of Pacific Relations, and The American Council on Education. Evidence of this organizational structure is authored by Rene Wormser, the former council for the Special Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations, informally referred to as the “The Reece Committee”, in his book Foundations: Their Power and Influence:

There are [grave dangers to our society], these dangers relate chiefly to the use of foundation funds for political ends; they arise out of the accumulation of substantiaeconomic power and of cultural influence in the hands of a class of administrators or tax-exempt funds established in perpetuity. An “elite” has thus emerged, in control of gigantic financial resources operating outside of our democratic processes, which is willing and able to shape the future of this nation and of mankind in the image of its own value concepts. An unparalleled amount of power is concentrated increasingly in the hands of an interlocking and self-perpetuating group. Unlike the power of corporate management, it is unchecked by stockholders; unlike the power of government, it is unchecked by the people; unlike the power of churches, it is unchecked by any firmly established canons of value.”

The Reece Committee began it’s investigation with ‘specific determinations requested by the Congress H. Res. 217, namely’:  

have Foundations – used their resources for purposes contrary to those for which they were established?

-used their resources for purposes which can be classed as un-American?

-used their resources for purposes which can be regarded as subversive?

-used their resources for political purposes?

-resorted to propaganda in order to achieve the objectives for which they have made grants?

It was determined early in the investigation that its scope would need to be broadened to include several other ‘accessory agencies’ including: The American Council of Learned Societies; the National Research Council; the Social Science Research Council; the American Council on Education; the National Education Association; the League for Industrial Democracy; the Progressive Education Association; the American Historical Association; John Dewey Society; and the Anti-Defamation League. The first three of which, having several constituent, associate and institutional members of their own, and who were vessels for the funding of social science scholarships, i.e., history, economics, sociology, psychology, political science, statistics, and anthropology.  

The fourth, The American Council on Education served as the coordinating mechanism on a regional and national level. The National Education Association was a monopolistic representative of the ‘great body of teachers’ able to control and administer to the entire poulation of teachers. The League for Industrial Democracy was originally known as the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which promoted socialism and was the equivalent to the Fabian Society in England. The Progressive Education Association was also a divisive entity that promoted ‘the idea that the individual must be adjusted to the group as a result of his or her educational experience, and that democracy is little more than a system for cooperative living.’ The American Historical Association released a report in 1926 in which it concluded that “the day of the individual in the United States had come to an end and that the future would be characterized, inevitably, by some form of collectivism and an increase in the authority of the State.” And The John Dewey Society’s role was that of ‘conducting research in the field of education and promoting the educational philosophy of John Dewey’, namely the institution and promotion of progressive education.

The Reece Committee concluded that:

The broad study which called our attention to the activities of these organizations has revealed not only their support by Foundations, but has disclosed a degree of cooperation between them which they have referred to as “an interlock”, thus indicating a concentration of influence and power. By this phrase they indicate they are bound by a common interest rather than a dependency upon a single source for capital funds. It is difficult to study their relationship without confirming this. Likewise it is difficult to avoid the feeling that their common interest has led them to cooperate closely with one another and that this common interest lies in the planning and control of certain aspects of American life through a combination of the Federal Government and education.

The Reece Committee’s final report further summarized that these organizations, institutions and societies were using their massive financial influence over the social sciences to “transform education into an instrument for social change.” 

In summary, our study of these entities and their relationship to each other seems to warrant the inference that they constitute a highly efficient, functioning whole. Its product is apparently an educational curriculum designed to indoctrinate the American student from matriculation to the consummation of his education. It contrasts sharply with the freedom of the individual as the cornerstone of our social structure. For this freedom, it seems to substitute the group, the will of the majority, and a centralized power to enforce this will – presumably in the interest of all. Its development and production seems t o have been largely the work of those organizations engaged in research, such as the Social Science Research Council and the National Research Council.

Stepping back to consider all of this in its entirety, one has to ask themselves some important ethical and moral questions regarding the power and influence of these Foundations. Is it within the national interests of the United States to allow an extremely small number of men to dictate a vast interest such as our national education? Is it morally just for a society to allow a few industrialists, on account of their exorbitant wealth, to administer the social direction of an entire nation? The evidence continues to prove that these tax-exempt foundations, who are mandated to remain bi-partisan and free from political affiliations, have most definitely stepped outside the realms of their expertise and even the law; and we see the same destructive results being played out even today.

Whether its Rockefeller – a businessman – donating the land for the creation of the United Nations; Bill Gates – a computer programmer – administering vaccines to impoverished Africans; Bill and Hillary Clinton – lifelong state actors – fleecing the victims of third world countries, or George Soros – a private citizen – using his Open Society Foundation to wield geopolitical influence; these ‘altruistic’, philanthropic, tax-exempt Foundations are enjoying an unfettered power that now undeniably controls governments; shapes global policy; and in turn affect societies around the world on a level disproportionate to their perceived importance. And while they continue to abuse the public trust of Americans, and as the evidence of their failures continues to pile up well beyond anything resembling coincidence or accident; the time to rethink their involvement in our society is long overdue

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1. A History of Modern Psychology, Ludy Benjamin, pg 68.

2. The Journal of Libertarian Studies G. Stanley Hall: A Priestly Prophet of a New Dispensation, Clarence J Karier. pg. 2

3. Ibid

4. Ibid

5. Wikipedia Granville Stanley Hall

6. G. Stanley Hall letter to George A. Bullock, November 20, 1909, Clark University Archives, Hall Collection, Box 20.

7. G Stanley Hall, The Education of the Will, Princeton Review (July-December 1882), p. 310.

8. G. Stanley Hall, letter to Sigmund Freud, September 24, 1923, Clark University Archives, Hall Collection, Box 244, Folder 9, pg 2-3. See also John Chynoweth Burnham, ed., “Sigmund Freud and G. Stanley Hall: Exchange of letters,” Psychoanalytic Quarterly 29, no 3 (1960): 314-15.)

9. Hall, G. Stanley (1904) Adolescence: Its Psychology and its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religioni and Education.

10. Charles E. Strickland and Charles Burgess, Health, Growth, and Heredity: G. Stanley Hall on Natural Education (New York: Teachers College Press, 1965), p. viii

11.Pintner, op. cit., 14

12. National Academy Biographical Memoirs Vol. XXV James McKeen Cattell

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Wikipedia.

16. National Academy Biographical Memoirs Vol. XXV James McKeen Cattell 17. Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography Copyright 2008 Also wikipedia James McKeen Cattell. See also National Academy Biographical Memoirs Vol. XXV. 18. Wikipedia James McKeen Cattell. See also National Academy Biographical Memoirs Vol. XXV.

19. National Academy Biographical Memoirs Vol. XXV. 20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid.

25. Encyclopedia Britannica, James Mark Baldwin. See also University of Toronto James Mark Baldwin Museum.

26. Ibid.