Monday, October 19, 2009

Life Magazine now completely online

Google Books has now made all issues of Life Magazine available online. Published from 1936-1972 Life was a major weekly magazine that had a great influence on the American people. A few years back Google announced that Life's archive of photos would be made available but with this announcement of all the pages this is an even better resource for any psychology and history course.
Some selected psychology features from life include the shocking portrayal of mental hospitals in "Bedlam 1946" (pictured at left). Given that the American public had only recently recoiled in horror from images of Nazi concentration camp victims the horrible conditions in these hospitals and of these patients angered many. Gerald Grob's The Mad Among Us: A History of the Care of America's Mentally Ill (excerpted here) has a nice background on the article and its impact -- not least of which was further spurring Walter Freeman on to develop his lobotomy treatment to spare his patients this agony.

There are many, many more amazing articles out there (I just tried to find "a few" and quickly became overwhelmed!) -- it would be a great assignment to have your students compare what is known now about some particular area of psychology with what was known then. It would also be interesting to compare how confident they were in their knowledge to how confident we are!

If you find a particularly good article, please share it in the comments below. Be careful, though: this archive can suck you in! And honestly, no matter how good the content is, the best parts for me are still the ads in between, which clearly could be a subject of an entirely different lesson plan!

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