Mary Whiton Calkins

By Taylor Anderson

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Date of Birth and Death

  • Born March 30, 1863, in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • Died February 26, 1930, at age 66 in Newton, Massachusetts.

Brief Background

  • Eldest of five children.
  • Attended Smith College.
  • Study Greek and eventually became a Greek teacher at Wellesley College.
  • After three years of teaching Greek, she was offered a job to teach psychology at Wellesley.
  • Interested with psychology, Mary sat in on psychology lectures at Harvard University before returning to Wellesley where she would establish a laboratory for psychology.
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Contributions to Psychology

Mary Whiton Calkins had to overcome discrimination and prejudice against women to become the first woman to complete the requirements for a Ph.D. in psychology in 1895. Harvard at the time did not admit women and so would not award her a degree. Years later, Harvard offered to give her a degree from Radcliffe College (established by Harvard to educate women.) Calkins refused the offer, stating that she had completed her work at Harvard, not Radcliffe. Calkins was elected president of the APA (American Psychology Association) in 1905.