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Happy Birthday to…US!
Celebrating SPSSI at 75: Highlights and Events

Alexandra Rutherford, Michelle Fine, & Justine Calcagno

    SPSSI has reached the ripe old age of 75! Born on September 1, 1936, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in the midst of the Great Depression, SPSSI was formed, as its founders put it, to “make psychology significant in American life.”  Early leaders hoped  SPSSI would suggest and test hypotheses regarding “desirable social change,” and would help express the attitudes of psychologists on the “important economic and political issues” of the day.  We think they would be proud of all that SPSSI has accomplished in its first 75 years, and we invite all SPSSI members to celebrate these accomplishments at the 75th Anniversary Gala from 3pm to 8pm on August 3rd, 2011, in Washington, DC. 
    The Anniversary Committee, chaired by Michelle Fine, has been hard at work planning the event that will kick off with a roundtable facilitated by SPSSI president James Jackson. Other highlights include honoring the Arc of Elders and the launch of the “SPSSI Was There” interactive timeline. There will also be a stellar vocal performance, led by the SPSSI Glee Club, of classic and current songs that recount SPSSI’s history by decade.  For schedule details, see the full program below. If you haven’t already RSVP’ed via that e-mail invitation that was sent out in February, be sure to do so, or e-mail Central Office at
    In fact, we have already begun to commemorate SPSSI’s 75th year. In March, a special  anniversary issue of the Journal of Social Issues was published featuring 15 articles by both historians and prominent SPSSI members. If you haven’t had a chance, open it up and settle in for a good read.  Interested in the history of SPSSI’s involvement at the United Nations? Curious about the work of SPSSI’s 1978-1982 Task Force on Sexual Orientation? Want to know more about the amazing career of SPSSI’s first female president? Or how about the fascinating history of community self-surveys and participatory action research? It’s all there.
    In April, SPSSI’s history was featured at the Center for the History of American Psychology in Akron, Ohio. SPSSI’s historian, Alexandra Rutherford, gave a talk to an attentive audience in the newly-opened Center which houses not only the Archives of the History of American Psychology (where SPSSI’s papers are kept), but a gorgeous museum that is open to the public. Stanley Milgram’s shock generator, Kenneth and Mamie Phipps Clarks’ work on racial identification, and Phil Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment, are all featured in prominent displays.  If you haven’t made a trip to Akron lately, we highly recommend a visit (see
    In June, APA/SPSSI members who receive the APA Monitor should turn immediately to the Time Capsule Feature to read about SPSSI, “Psychology’s engine for social change.” Learn  about Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speech on the SPSSI program at the 1967 APA convention and how SPSSI members - past and present - have used social science research to impact society’s most pressing issues. 
    We are very excited to be celebrating SPSSI’s 75th and hope that you will join us at the gala in DC, not only to have a fun peek at SPSSI’s past, but to gather momentum and energy for SPSSI’s future.  SPSSI has come a long way in 75 years, but the next 75 may prove to be the most challenging yet.

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