Just a few years before the dawn of the digital age, Harvard psychologist Bert Kaplan set out to build the largest database of sociological information ever assembled. It was the mid-1950s, and social scientists were entranced by the human insights promised by Rorschach tests and other innovative scientific protocols. Kaplan, along with anthropologist A. I. Hallowell and a team of researchers, sought out a varied range of non-European subjects among remote and largely non-literate peoples around the globe. Recording their dreams, stories, and innermost thoughts in a vast database, Kaplan envisioned future researchers accessing the data through the cutting-edge Readex machine. Almost immediately, however, technological developments and the obsolescence of the theoretical framework rendered the project irrelevant, and eventually it was forgotten.
"Unique, well-curated brain food for readers intrigued with the human psyche and how it can be recorded, indexed, and cross-referenced."—Kirkus Reviews~Kirkus Reviews
"Humane, hilarious, and smart . . . The book shows that, although some things are forgotten because they are unimportant, others lose importance because they are forgotten."—Science~Science
"Lemov, a professor of the History of Science at Harvard, recollects with flair, affection and dazzling detail, a post World War II project to do away with mornings after like this one: those episodes of mourning that follow some lost telling of some last secret of some human heart. . . . Riveting."—New Republic~New Republic
"A compelling account."—Wall Street Journal~Wall Street Journal
"Lemov’s contribution informs our understanding not only of how psychological research is managed but also of our own daily contributions, voluntary and otherwise, to a 'forever' database already being probed in increasingly intimate fashion."—Psychology Today~Psychology Today
The online version of Database of Dreams is made available under a Creative Commons license for use that is noncommercial. The terms of the license are set forth at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0. This free copy of the work is also made possible by the Arcadia, a UK grant-making fund whose mission is to protect endangered culture and nature and to further open access to scholarly and cultural materials.