Psychology: Alberta Banner Turner
Alberta Banner Turner, first ever African American who has received a degree of PHD in psychology from Ohio State University, is a role model and counsellor for youngsters and has been a pioneer in the field of psychology (African American Pioneers in Psychology, n.dat.). The objective of this paper is to discuss the biography of Alberta Banner Turner, one of the early female and ethnic minority pioneers in the field of psychology. This paper is divided into five sections. First section talks about the personal and educational history of Alberta Banner Turner. Second section deliberates the professional life of Alberta Banner Turner. Third section discusses some of her other contributions. Fourth section enlists various rewards and recognitions she has achieved in her life time. Fifth section concludes the paper.
Alberta Banner Turner: Personal and Educational Life History
Alberta Banner Turner was born on 17th of March, 1909, in a place called Chicago, Illinois (American Psychological Association, n.dat.). Her father’s name was James and mother’s name was Mable Banner. Her family got shifted to Columbus, Ohio, in her childhood.
She did her schooling from City’s Public School, Columbus and graduated from East High School in the year 1925. She broke the trend of her family and became the first person in her family who achieved a high school diploma. After that, she took admission in Ohio State University, and took her bachelors in home economics in the year 1925, Masters in education in the year 1935 and PHD in psychology in the year 1935 from Ohio State University itself. Soon after achieving the undergraduate degree in home economics, she got the offer to become the Head of Department of Home Economics at Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio (Young, 2012). She accepted the offer given by Wilberforce University and meanwhile completed her Master’s degree in education from Ohio State University by attending classes in summer. During her PHD studies, she worked with an experimental psychologist, Samuel Renshaw, who was also her supervisor during her masters. Her dissertation was entitled, “The Effects of Practice on the Perception and Memorization of Digits Presented in Single Exposure” for which she received her doctoral in the year 1935 (Young, 2012).
Alberta Banner Turner tied her knot to John G. Turner and died on 31st of January 2008 in Hawaii.
Alberta Banner Turner: Professional Life
After completing her PHD, Alberta Banner Turner shifted to North Carolina after accepting an opportunity to become Head of the Department in Home Economics in Winston Salem College. She held the same role from the year 1935 to 1936. For next two years, i.e. 1936-1937, she stayed in Missouri and worked as a psychology professor and head of the division of home economics in Lincoln University. In 1938, she moved to Southern University in Louisiana and was appointed as the head of the home economics department. She was then appointed as the head of department in home economics in Bennett College for Women in North Carolina, which she served from the year 1939 to 1942.
She returned back to Ohio in 1942 and got a first full time opportunity in Ohio Board of Juvenile Research as a clinician. Her hard work and dedication were recognized there and she got promoted to clinical psychologist. Later, she was promoted to supervising psychologist and eventually her progress made her the chief psychologist in Ohio Board of Juvenile Research (Barton and Gainer, 2012). During this period, she made her footmark as a clinical psychologist and worked with juveniles. She also had given lectures to Ohio State University in the subject of psychopathology and juvenile delinquency during 1950s. It was in this period only that she actively participated in the research work in psychology. She was in the field of psychology for the rest of her professional life. From the year 1963 till her retirement in the year 1971, she worked in Ohio Youth Commission as a Research Director. She was not the kind of person who could sit idle after her retirement. In the year 1971, after her retirement, she engaged herself in Ohio Criminal Justice Supervisory Commission where she worked for improvement in crime justice and reduction of crime. She worked on this subject from 1972 to 1976. She also acted as an adviser on Vocational Rehabilitation for National Advisory Council during this period. She then researched in her interest area of psychological aspects of obesity and became an administrative assistant to Weight Watchers and also a Mary Kay cosmetics director.
Alberta Banner Turner: Other Contributions
Alberta Banner Turner actively participated in the civil rights struggle since her school days. She admitted in one of her interviews in the year 1999 that she would like to be known more for civil rights advocacy, and hence shown her interest in advocacy and services to the communal rights (Vaughn, n.dat.). She bravely fought the racial discrimination, which she faced during different life stages. At 16 years of age, she showed the courage to enter into a white only high school prom to stand against colour discrimination. In a similar incident, she appealed to file a case against manager of the theatre who denied entry for blacks in Columbus.
Later in 1940s, Alberta Banner Turner extended her advocacy to involve herself in the education for African American women and organized educational courses for this community. She also supported inter race marriages and relations and gave her views in public speech for supporting the same in the year 1946.
She was the director of the first national program of The Links Organization that includes about ten thousand members from the nation. She also established a scholarship program in partnership with The Links for the encouragement of minors. She has also been a pioneer in a treatment of juvenile delinquents. During her lifetime, she constantly worked against races, inequality and reform for teenagers. Her inspirational story of the achievement of various rewards, recognitions and other social activities have been perfectly penned down in articles from Jet magazine and Psychology of Women Quarterly.
Alberta Banner Turner: Rewards and Recognitions
Following are the various honours and awards achieved by Alberta Banner Turner during her lifetime:
1935- First African American woman to receive a doctoral degree in psychology from Ohio State University.
1966- Awarded by the Columbus Citizen Journal as one of the “Ten Women of the Year”.
1971- Awarded for the lifetime of work in the field of Juvenile Rehabilitation and Treatment by Ohio State.
1999- Awarded by Ohio State University for Distinguished Service Award.
2003- Achievement award by Ohio Psychological Association for “Psychologist in the Public Interest”.
1940s- Fourth national president of Jack and Jill of America, an organization that helps African American children of America.
First and only African American woman and psychologist appointed to the Ohio Criminal Justice Supervisory Commission.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Award for her excellent academic and communal work
Alberta Banner Turner was the female ethnic minor pioneer in the field of psychology. She was the first African American woman to receive a doctoral degree in psychology from Ohio State University. She was also the first person in her family to achieve a high school diploma. She very well carried out her professional responsibilities and, at the same time, she fulfilled her responsibilities towards her community. She was the inspiration and role model for youngsters in rehabilitation and treatment of juvenile delinquency. She also contributed a lot to psychological aspects in obesity and home economics. She struggled and fought for racial discrimination throughout her life. She also worked for women’s rights.
She received several prestigious awards, which were the results of her ‘never say die’ attitude and continuous effort. She was awarded not only for her contribution to psychology but also for her community services. Some of the examples of the awards achieved by her are: award by the Columbus Citizen Journal as one of the “Ten Women of the Year”, award for the lifetime of work in the field of Juvenile Rehabilitation and Treatment, Distinguished Service Award and Psychologist in the Public Interest Award. People like Alberta Banner Turner are not only blessings for the society or nation but for the whole world and their input cannot be forgotten.
African American Pioneers in Psychology (n.dat.). Brief Biographies. Retrieved from http://psychology.okstate.edu/museum/afroam/bio.html
American Psychological Association (n.dat.). Alberta Banner Turner, PhD. Retrieved from http://apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/psychologists/turner.aspx
Barton L R and Gainer E (2012). Alberta Banner Turner Featured for Archives Month. Retrieved from https://centerhistorypsychology.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/alberta-banner-turner-featured-for-archives-month/
Vaughn K (n.dat.). Alberta Banner Turner (1909 - 2008). Retrieved from http://www.apadivisions.org/division-35/about/heritage/alberta-turner-biography.aspx
Young J L (2012). Alberta Banner Turner. Retrieved from http://www.feministvoices.com/alberta-banner-turner/