Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology > About SIOP > SIOP Museum > Early History


The Early History Virtual Wing

This wing contains historical information on the very early days of I-O psychology (i.e., pre-WWII).  The exhibits in this museum cover the work of early figures such as Hugo Munsterberg and the Gilbreths as well as the Hawthorne studies.

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth

Frank GilbrethLillian Gilbreth
[Photo 1 is in the public domain per Wikipedia, as is photo 2, also per Wikipedia]

Lillian Gilbreth and her husband Frank B. Gilbreth, Sr. were early pioneers in I-O psychology.  SIOP Past President Milt Hakel’s came into possession of a set of stereoscopic photos and a letter from Frank Gilbreth to Hugo Munsterberg.  These items were donated to the Dr. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) and are featured in one of the center’s blog posts.  Additionally, you can view more of the photos at the CHP website here and here.  Some of the videos that the Gilbreths took for job analysis and time motion studies are posted online here and here.

Before becoming an eminent researcher, Frank Gilbreth was a general contractor who was involved in rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake:
San Francisco 
Image from California Digital Library, University of California1. Lillian and Frank Gilbreth were the parents of 12 children and their family life is depicted in two books: Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes and movies titled Cheaper by the Dozen and Bells on their Toes
Lillian Gilbreth Stamp

Lillian Gilbreth was featured on this postage stamp, issued on February 24, 1984 by the U.S. Postal Service.


Hugo Munsterberg

Hugo Munsterberg

[This is in the public domain per Wikipedia]

Hugo Munsterberg is often cited as the founding father of I-O psychology.  SIOP Past President Frank Landy has written two articles in the Journal of Applied Psychology that cover Munsterberg’s career here and here.

A written biography also appears on the Muskingum College website and a video biography appears on YouTube. You can read Munsterberg’s APA Presidential Address.  Shown below is a dissertation acceptance statement signed by Hugo Munsterberg in 1895.


1895 Dissertation acceptance statement for Mary Whiton Calkins’ doctoral thesis, signed by Josiah Royce, G.H. Palmer, Hugo Munsterberg, William James, Paul Hanus, and George Santayana_courtesy of Harvard University Archives
From the Harvard University Archives


The Hawthorne Works

Hawthorne Works
[in the public domain per wikipedia]


The Hawthorne Studies were conducted in the 1920s by Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger.  You can view some videos about the study on YouTube here and here.

Thomas Edison – early employment test developer

Among Thomas Edison’s many inventions is an early employment test. You can learn more about his test here in this Smithsonian Magazine article and Mike Aamodt’s TIP article.  You can try taking the test yourself; it was published in this New York Times article.
This article is in the public domain as copyrights from 1923 and before have 
[in the public domain per wikipedia.]


1Special thanks to Doug Johnson for providing this link.


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