G. Stanley Hall

(1844 - 1924)

Compiled by Amy Grezlik (May 1999)

Hall Biography
Time Line

G. Stanley Hall is a name not only known in the field of Psychology, but also in the field of Education. He can easily be called the founder of organized psychology as a science and profession, the father of the child study movement, and as a national leader of educational reform. Hall, born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, on a farm, was raised under modest circumstances with Congregational parents. His mother, Abigail, pushed him to go into ministry. Hall used this as his reason to continue on with his education. At the age of 14, Hall reported that he began a journey of his own. He climbed a hill and had a day long vigil. It was then that he made a vow to himself that he would leave the farm and would become something in the world. Throughout his life, Hall had a strong love for literature and music. They were his escape in life.

In 1862, Hall left Ashfield for Williston Academy. However, He was not happy there. The following year he transferred to Williams College. Upon graduating in 1867, he wanted to study abroad but did not have the necessary funds, so he attended the Union Theological Seminary for a year, and then was able to travel abroad. Eventually Hall was granted his Ph.D. in Psychology under William James and Henry P. Bowditch, the first Ph.D. in Psychology in America. He began as a professor of psychology and pedagogics at Johns Hopkins University in 1882. When Clark University opened in 1889, Hall began as the president, and remained there until his death in 1924. Along the way, Hall founded the first psychological journal in America, the American Journal of Psychology in 1887, along with many to follow in the later years.

image While at Clark University, Hall organized a conference in 1909 for 175 people, 40 of which were American Psychologists. Hall ran the conference as well as arranged the order of lectures and handled the social arrangements. Among the attending psychologists were Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, who are seated respectively to Hall's right and left in this photo. The Clark Conference, as named, was in celebration of Clark University's twentieth anniversary. Through all of this, Hall is also important for his work with the child study movement and attained some notoriety with his theory that ontology recapitulates phylogeny. He showed the importance of early childhood through adolescence as a turning point in psychological growth. To him, childhood was merely an extension of embryological development. Hall died in 1924, but still remains an important part of psychology's history.

Hall linked together genetic psychology and education. The theory that Hall is known for is his theory of recapitulation. More simply put as "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny". This theory explains that each person goes through changes in both the psychic and somatic senses which follow the evolution scale of the mind and body. Hall believed that the pre-adolescent child develops to its best when it is not forced to follow constraints, but rather to go through the stages of evolution freely. He believed that before a child turned six or seven, the child should be able to experience how one lived in the simian stage. In this stage, the child would be able to express his animal spirits. The child is growing rapidly at this stage and the energy levels are high. The child is unable to use reasoning, show sensitiveness towards religion, or social discernment. By age eight, the child should be at stage two. This, Hall believed, is the stage where formal learning should begin. This is when the brain is at full size and weight. It is considered normal to be cruel and rude to others at this stage for the reasoning skills are still not developed. The child should not have to deal with moralizing conflicts or ideas, his is not yet ready at this stage. The child's physical health is most important now. In the stage of the adolescent, the child now has a rebirth into a sexed life. Hall argued that at this point, there should no longer be coeducation. Both sexes can't optimally learn and get everything out of the lessons in the presence the opposite sex. And, this is when true education can begin. The child is ready to deal with moral issues, kindness, love, and service for others. Reasoning powers are beginning, but are still not strong. Hall argued that the high school should be a place similar to a "people's college" so that it could be more of an ending for those who would not be continuing their education to the next level.

Hall's specific theory that maturation needs to be tracted, allowing deeper thoughts to be provoked only when the physical aspect of growth is complete, did not greatly influence education. At the same time, he paved the way for future scholars such as Piaget.

Time Line
1844 Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts
1858 Day long vigil, vowed to leave farm and to be someone in the world
1860 First independent job as a schoolmaster
1862 Left Ashfield for Williston Academy
1863 Left Williston Academy
1866 Began Junto, literary club
1867 Graduated from Williams College
1867 Attended Union Theological Seminary as a divinity student
1868 Studied abroad in Germany
1878 Earned the first Ph.D. in Psychology in America
1882 Left for work at Johns Hopkins University
1887 Founded the first Psychological Journal is America, the American Journal of Psychology
1889 Became president of Clark University
1892 Founded the American Psychological Association
1894 Founded the Pedagogical Seminary
1904 Wrote Adolescence
1909 Organized the Clark Conference
1917 Founded the Journal of Applied Psychology
1924 Died

Hall, G. Stanley. (1904). Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion, and Education. 2 vols. New York, Appleton.
Hall, G. Stanley. (1906). Youth: Its Education, Regiment, and Hygiene. New York, Appleton.
Hall, G. Stanley. (1911). Educational Problems. 2 vols. New York, Appleton.
Hall, G. Stanley. (1917). Jesus, the Christ, In the Light of Psychology. 2 vols. Garden City, New York, Doubleday.
Hall, G. Stanley. (1920). Morale: The Supreme Standard of Life and Conduct. New York, Appleton.
Hall, G. Stanley. (1923). Senescence: The Last Half of Life. New York, Appleton.
Hall, G. Stanley. (1923). The Life and Confessions of a Psychologist. New York, Appleton.
N. Orwin Rush (Ed.). (1948). Letters of G. Stanley hall to Jonas Gilman Clark. Worcester, Mass.: Clark University Library.
Hothersall, D. 1995. History of Psychology, 3rd ed., Mcgraw-Hill:NY
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. (1968). Vol. 6. Macmillian and Free Press.
Ross, Dorothy. (1972). G. Stanley Hall. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.
Hulse, Stewart and Green, Jr., Bert. (1986). One Hundred Years of Psychology Research in America. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University.
Kavanaugh, Robert, Zimmerberg, Betty, and Fein, Steven. (1996). Emotion. Mahwah, Laurence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

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