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Margaret Floy Washburn

Born: 25-Jul-1871
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 29-Oct-1939
Location of death: Poughkeepsie, NY
Cause of death: Illness

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Psychologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: First female American psychologist

When Columbia University would not accept a woman as a graduate student, Margaret Floy Washburn attended lectures and classes at the university anyway, without credit. Attending Cornell instead, in 1894 she became the first woman in the United States to earn a PhD in psychology. She studied under Edward Titchener, but later criticized his theories of psychological structuralism, and became an acknowledged expert in animal psychology. She wrote extensively on the relationship between motor development and mental activity, published papers on emotion and affective consciousness, memory, and spatial perception, and was elected President of the American Psychological Association.

Father: Francis Washburn (Episcopalian minister, b. 1843, d. 1914)
Mother: Elizabeth Davis Floy (m. 1869, d. 1924)

    High School: Ulster Academy, Kingston, NY (1886)
    University: BA General Studies, Vassar College (1891)
    University: Columbia University (attended, 1891-92)
    University: MA Psychology, Vassar College (1893)
    University: PhD Psychology, Cornell University (1894)
    Teacher: Psychology, Philosophy, and Ethics, Wells College (1894-1900)
    Teacher: Psychology, Cornell University (1900-02)
    Teacher: Psychology, University of Cincinnati (1902-03)
    Professor: Philosophy, Vassar College (1903-08)
    Professor: Psychology, Vassar College (1908-37)

    Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Psychological Association President (1921-23)
    National Academy of Sciences 1932
    English Ancestry
    Society of Experimental Psychologists

Author of books:
The Animal Mind: A Text-Book of Comparative Psychology (1908)
Movement and Mental Imagery (1916)


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