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BPS updates, Equality, diversity and inclusion, Race, ethnicity and culture, Teaching and learning

Broadening the Society archive

The BPS History of Psychology Centre is appealing for donations of records relating to Black Psychology and Black Psychologists in the UK.

07 November 2022

Donations for the Society’s archive can relate to the work of individuals, groups or movements who have impacted UK psychology – including campaigners and activists.

This comes as part of the Society’s work to decolonise the psychology curriculum and recognise the contributions of Black psychologists. Donations can include minutes, agendas and meeting papers, marketing materials, publications, correspondence, lobbying material, images and recordings including videos and audio, and do not need to be associated with the BPS specifically.

We’re trying to broaden the content of the archives to be a lot more representative of the history of psychology.

Archive Manager Sophie O’Reilly said one of the biggest gaps in the BPS archive was the work of Black psychologists, something which is due to numerous factors including criteria for donations to the archive which have been limiting in the past. ‘We have a collecting policy of what we add to the archives – in the past we’ve asked for records from psychologists who have made a significant contribution to psychology. Of course many Black psychologists have made significant contributions, but perhaps those contributions haven’t been recognised as such. Black psychologists, and Black people in general, also haven’t had the same opportunities for making these contributions to psychology as white people.’

O’Reilly added that the remit for collecting has also been quite narrow in terms of how we define what British is, or what psychology is. ‘We’re trying to broaden the content of the archives to be a lot more representative of the history of psychology, but also the history of who practises psychology and who accesses psychological services. It’s important that we present a more holistic history of UK psychology, we know the voices and contributions of these psychologists is often hidden and not given sufficient visibility. We also recognise Black psychologists’ contributions beyond psychology, and we want to make sure that these stories are preserved and accessible for future generations.’

O’Reilly said the archive would also welcome suggestions of individuals who could be interviewed as part of its oral history collection. A recent example of this is an oral history interview with Waveney Bushell – the first Black, female educational psychologist in the UK.

If you would like to contribute, donations can be in paper or digital format and the archive reserves the right to refuse any donations which do not align with its Archive Collections Policy. If you have any questions, would like to talk with the History of Psychology Centre, or have suggestions for donations, email: [email protected]