The aim of the History of Psychology Centre (formed in 2002) is to preserve and document the Society’s history and to maintain and develop its extensive collections.
History of Psychology Centre
The Centre provides an academic research and resource centre in the history of psychology and, in support of its work, organises multiple events and produces a variety of publications.
The Society's official collection of books, journals, member network periodicals and more is held at the Senate House Library, University of London.
Explore our collections and find out more about our work by consulting the tabs below.
Our collections comprise:
The British Psychological Society's administrative archives contain minutes, correspondence, reports, and working papers covering a full range of activities of the Society and its member networks since its foundation.
In addition the History of Psychology Centre holds numerous working papers from various eminent psychologists and psychological organisations, including:
- Leslie Hearnshaw (1907-1991)
- John C. Kenna (1913-2004)
- Charles Spearman (1863-1945)
- Henri Tajfel (1919-1982)
- Charlotte Wolff (1897-1986)
- Various Child Study Societies and Associations minute books 1891-1945
- Major Hopkins P.O.W. dream research notebooks 1940-1942
- Numerous one-off items of correspondence, early undergraduate notebooks, Liverpool University documents, ephemera, etc.
The majority of these collections are housed at the Wellcome Library, which is open to the public.
First-time visitors are advised to contact Wellcome Library in advance.
The BPS has maintained a library since 1906, which has been held at Senate House, University of London since 1947. The BPS library was merged with Senate House Library’s own extensive psychology holdings in 2014 to create one of the most extensive psychology collections in Europe.
As well as being the official repository for the Society’s own publications – journals, newsletters, reports, etc. – the collection contains extensive and historical holdings of psychology journals and books, including rare and classic 19th and 20th century texts.
Eligible Society members can obtain a reference card free of charge, which provides access not only to the Society's own extensive collections but also onsite access to all Senate House Library’s print collections and digital resources.
Pre-registration is available online, which will give temporary membership until it is completed by visiting the Library.
Discounted borrowing cards are also available for BPS members, including student members.
Mura Ghosh is the Psychology Librarian at Senate House and is happy to answer general and bibliographic enquiries from Society members. Call her on 020 7862 8449 or email [email protected].
The audio archive is named after John C. Kenna, the Society’s first Honorary Archivist, in recognition of his pioneering work in gathering and collecting early audio recordings of eminent figures in the history of psychology.
Oral History Project
Since 2005 HoPC has been running an Oral History Project to build on this early work of John Kenna and to ensure we collect and preserve the oral history of the current generation of British psychologists.
If you would like to be involved as an interviewer or an interviewee, contact the archivist.
All recordings (and some transcripts) are available for consultation by appointment at the History of Psychology Centre at the Society’s London office.
For more information on recordings in the collection please see the archive catalogue.
This collection is named after Grace Rawlings, a former President of the BPS.
Founded in 1990, the archive comprises photographs, slides, and films of individuals, groups, and events relating to psychology and to the Society.
Images held in the visual archive may be viewed for private research and study purposes, but please note that current copyright law may prevent us from making copies of some images in the archive even for bona fide researchers. See the Enquiries and Document Supply tab for more information.
There are about 400 tests in the collection, including intelligence tests, educational and developmental tests, and occupational tests.
The core of the test collection is the University of Sussex Psychological Test Collection, which the History of Psychology Centre took on a 15-year loan in December 2005, but which has since been made permanent.
There is no public or researcher access to the tests at the present time.
In addition our Applied Psychology Unit (Cambridge) Pamphlet Collection is held at the British Library in London.
One of our main aims is to develop a comprehensive online history of the British Psychological Society, covering its professional, academic and institutional evolution since its formation in 1901.
If you are interested in learning more about the Society's origins and development, a good starting point would be to to consult the following article(s):
A short history of the British Psychological Society - Dr Geoff Bunn
You may also wish to consult:
The British Psychological Society (1947) - Beatrice Edgell
Sixty years of psychology - L.S. Hearnshaw
A brief history of the Society logo - Hannah Steinberg
Seventy-five years of The British Journal of Psychology 1904-1979 - Alan D.B. Clarke
Founding factors - Geoff Bunn
The evolution of the Society - David Clark-Carter
For researchers, the primary source of information on the Society is the archives.
On 24 October 1901 a group of 10 people met at University College, London to form a psychological society, which became the British Psychological Society in 1906.
For further details on our founding members, please click the link below:
For information about previous Society Presidents, Board Chairs, Honorary Members, and Honorary Fellows.
The History of Psychology Centre organises a variety of events and public engagement activities promoting the rich and varied history of psychology.
The History of Psychology Centre publishes an occasional series of monographs which focus on the historical origins and development of areas of psychological practice and research.
Further issues will be announced in due time.
This book outlines the development of the profession in the United Kingdom during its first century of existence. It describes a number of different themes that have emerged over time and documents key points in the profession’s development.
Edited by Christopher Arnold & Julia Hardy
Paperback 166pp. See Contents
Price (including postage and packing) = £11.25 (£9.25 for DECP members)
To order a copy go to the BPS Shop
As a record of the development of the profession and as an aid to understanding current issues through the experience of the past, this short history will be highly relevant to psychologists working in health care, from trainees through to experienced clinicians, as well as to other healthcare professionals. As a scholarly history it will appeal not only to historians but also to anyone with a general interest in social and political developments in mental health provision.
Read Chapter 1.
Edited by John Hall, David Pilgrim & Graham Turpin
Paperback 395pp plus xix. See Contents.
Price (including postage and packing) = £21.99 (£19.99 for BPS members; £17.99 for DCP members)
Available from the BPS Shop
Please note that although we offer a limited enquiry service in response to email, post, or phone, or in person to visitors by prior arrangement, we cannot undertake research on your behalf.
For Information on Archives Collections, the History of the Society, Donations, Oral History and access to the Audio Visual Collections as well as other material held at the BPS London Office, please contact:
BPS History of Psychology Centre
30 Tabernacle Street
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)20 7330 0895
Fax: +44 (0)20 7330 0896
For information on access to materials held at the Wellcome Library please contact:
183 Euston Road
E-mail: [email protected]llcome.ac.uk
Please note that although registration for a library card is free and gives access to the main library collections; there are some additional requirements for access to archives and manuscripts. First-time visitors are advised to contact Wellcome Library in advance.
For information on the BPS Library Collection please contact Mura Ghosh, Psychology Librarian, Senate House:
Senate House Library
University of London
E- mail: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7862 8449
For all other enquiries, including Events and Publications, please contact:
BPS History of Psychology Centre
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 9528
Fax: +44 (0)116 271 1314
Copies and Permission to Use Material from BPS Collections
a) Private study, teaching or research purposes
We can supply images from the visual archive, sound recordings, and photocopies or pdfs of papers and other material (subject to copyright restrictions and at our discretion) for personal non-commercial use free of charge to BPS members. For non-members, there may be a charge (to be agreed in advance) to cover administrative costs and reprographics and postage charges.
For visiting researchers, photocopying and scanning (subject to copyright restrictions and at our discretion) will generally be done free of charge. There is no self-service copying available
Material held by our partner the Wellcome Library and Senate House are subject to their own arrangements for copying and supply, except for material that we have specified on our [link] catalogue to have particular conditions attached to it.
b) Commercial purposes
We will negotiate a fee with any person or organisation wishing to use images or other material (subject to copyright restrictions and at our discretion) for commercial purposes. Commercial purposes includes, but is not limited to, the reproduction of material within a publication that is sold or distributed by a commercial organisation, and the inclusion of material in course packs.
c) Copies and Permission to Use Articles published on the BPS Website
If you wish to republish or distribute an article downloaded from this website, or if you would like any other kind of licence, please email [email protected] with your request.