Speakers of Note

Sigmund FreudSigmund Freud, who delivered his Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis—his only speaking engagement in the United States.

Carl JungCarl Jung, who lectured on the association method and the psychology of childhood

Solomon Carter FullerSolomon Carter Fuller, the first African-American psychiatrist

Franz BoasFranz Boas, whose work in anthropology helped professionalize the field and laid the foundation for defeating the use of pseudo-science to justify racism

A. A. MichelsonA. A. Michelson, the first American to win a Nobel Prize in science.

Ernest RutherfordErnest Rutherford, who recognized that each atom contains a nucleus

Vito VolterraVito Volterra, now best known for applying his cutting-edge mathematical methods of physics to biological population modeling

Leo Hendrik BaekelandLeo Hendrik Baekeland, who invented the first completely synthetic plastic (Bakelite)

Herman BumpusHerman Bumpus, awarded the first Ph.D. at Clark, whose study of a population of New England sparrows was one of the first to confirm Darwin's theory of stabilizing selection.

Centennial History > Conference Overview

The 1909 Conferences

Clark University has a history of bringing together different sciences to examine human and social problems, and the psychology department has played a leading role in the synthesis of such ideas. By 1909, Clark University was one of America's foremost institutions of graduate education and had gained international prominence as a center of scholarship.

To observe the twentieth anniversary of the University's founding as the second graduate school in the United States, President G. Stanley Hall scheduled a series of conferences in July and September 1909. Hall intended the conferences to reflect the University's major areas of study. The five-day July event was a national conference on child welfare that brought together a variety of speakers representing the range of child welfare issues. In the fall, two weeks of conferences were held in other fields that were strengths at Clark from the beginning: psychology and pedagogy (education), physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and history/international relations (a conference on China and the Far East).

Each conference covered a range of topics, including many ground-breaking ideas. Sessions were also held throughout the September conferences that promoted the best methods of teaching for each discipline. Conference speakers came from Clark's faculty, from across the United States, and from abroad, and they were leaders and pioneers in their fields. Sigmund Freud was the speaker who would perhaps be best known today.

Honorary degrees were given to 21 of the guest lecturers, including Freud (the only such academic honor he ever received), Carl Jung (at age 34, Clark's youngest honorary degree recipient to date), pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas, and physicists Ernest Rutherford and Albert A. Michelson.

President Hall's vision for the 1909 conference and the legacies that emerged from it are still central to Clark's philosophy today: Challenge Convention, Change Our World.