Time Capsule

1838 On Feb. 20, the Arkansas legislature passed a law regarding the disposition of people with mental illness. The law extended responsibility for care to the third and fourth generations of the affected person's family. If no family member could be found to care for the ill person, the law provided for confinement in a "suitable place," usually a county jail. Treatment like this was common and led to the reforms of the mid-19th century.

1911 On Feb. 11, Mormon General Church Council warned psychologist Joseph Peterson, PhD, in the department at Brigham Young University, that he and two others would be "dispensed with" if they continued teaching Darwinian theory. Peterson left at the end of the school year and went on to become APA president in 1934.

1962 On Feb. 7, APA filed its first amicus curiae brief in a legal case, Jenkins v. U.S., heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The original trial judge had ruled that psychologists were not competent to testify about the defendant's sanity. The Court of Appeals on June 7, 1962, found expert testimony by psychologists acceptable and ordered a new trial.

1977 President Jimmy Carter signed an Executive Order on Feb. 19, establishing the President's Commission on Mental Health. The commission's first meeting on March 29, 1977 was followed by public hearings across the country, giving mental health professionals a vehicle for influencing national health policy.

Source: APA Historical Database, created and maintained by Warren R. Street, Central Washington University, and published as "A Chronology of Noteworthy Events in American Psychology" (APA, 1994).