Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society

Students, as part of an advanced seminar, examined and wrote about the lives of these women, their intellectual contributions, and the unique impact and special problems that being female had on their careers.

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Lillien Jane Martin

Lillien Jane Martin, a female pioneer in psychology has been ignored throughout history. Her contributions to the study of children and the elderly have impacted the way these individuals are viewed; yet very few people have heard of her. Her American background combined with a German education allowed Lillien to intermix the best points from the different schools of thought to create a new approach to applied psychology.


It can be rather difficult to discuss the influence of a woman in psychology because, although there have been several women throughout the history of psychology, their contributions have often been ignored or overridden by men. Lillien Martin is one woman who was determined to work in psychology doing what she wanted. Lillien, as a pioneer woman in psychology, faced obstacles including age, as well as gender discrimination. Her determination eventually rewarded her with an honorary Ph.D. from a school that originally refused her a degree because of her sex. Lillien's accomplishments and enthusiastic eagerness to share knowledge have changed the way applied psychology is viewed in areas of gerontology and mental hygiene for children.

Personal Background:

On July 7, 1851 in Olean, New York, Lillien Jane Martin was born to Russell Hawes Martin and Lydia Hawes Martin (DeFord, 1948). According to Lillien, her father Russel Hawes Martin was "cleaver (sic), but pleasure-loving and irresponsible" (DeFord 1948, p. 12). Lillien, originally named Lillie Jane by her father, decided to change her name to Lillien after her brother named his daughter Lillian (DeFord 1948). Lillien saw very little of her merchant father. As a result the child rearing was left up to her mother, Lydia Hawes Martin, who taught her children to value hard work and saw to it that her children received an education including religion (Notable American Women 1971). Her "managing" mother, held Lillien responsible for her younger siblings, and taught her how to avoid showing emotion. Her mother's influence seemed to stay with Lillien her whole life. At age ninety she was quoted, "I have always wished to demonstrate affection" (DeFord, 1948 p.16).

Lillien's education began at age four, when she wanted to attend school, "that marvelous place where older children learned the mysteries of reading and writing and ciphering" (DeFord, 1948, 13). After returning from school in an excited state, Lillien was kept in bed for three days.

She soon returned to Olean Academy and remained there until she was sixteen (DeFord, 1948). It is apparent that even at an early age, she was anxious to move forward and concentrate on the exciting future rather than the past.

Lillien was a young adolescent when her paternal grandfather retired and gave his younger son, not Lillien's father, his business and profits. This financially devastated Lillien's nuclear family, leaving her mother too poor to send her sons to school. As a result, Lydia decided to take Lillien and leave for San Francisco to visit her brother Horace.

Lillien's uncle, Horace, gave his sister the needed money for the boys to finish primary school, but did not give money to educate the oldest child, Lillien. When it was time for Lillien's brothers to begin high school, their mother moved the entire family to Racine, Wisconsin because this is where she could get a job to finance her sons' education. At this point Lillien's schooling was finished unless she could find a way to finance it herself.

When she was in Racine, Lillien taught at a school supported by the Episcopal Church, where the wages were low and the work plentiful. Lillien's hard work seem to pay off. By the end of the school year she received two letters offering her jobs. The first letter was from Bishop Kip asking her to transfer to another girl's school, in Nebraska.

This teaching opportunity allowed her to save for her college education that she had desired (DeFord 1948). Lillien's dream was to attend college at Cornell University in her home state of New York, a school that had allowed female students since 1872. When Lillien's mother applied for her, the school's response was, "We have not yet received an application for a female, but we see no reason to oppose it" (DeFord 1948 p.22). Lillien's mother did not want her daughter to be the only female at Cornell; as a result Lillien declined. Lillien's second choice Vassar, was the first college for women in the United States.

She had hoped to win a scholarship that would pay for her first year but received one that paid for all four years of her undergraduate studies instead (DeFord, 1948). Women who entered into universities during this time period had received mixed reviews. Dr. Edward H. Clarke's book that discussed things like the medical effects of advanced education on women's health, typified common beliefs of the time. He believed that any education beyond puberty would negatively affect their reproductive system and stated that the results would be "monstrous brains and puny bodies; abnormally active cerebration and abnormally weak digestion; flowing thought and constipated bowels" (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987 p. 4).

G. Stanley Hall exhibited similar ignorance when he claimed that educated women became "functionally castrated" (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987, p. 4). These women who decided to advance their education were caught in a trap, as "women scientists were. . . caught between two almost mutually exclusive stereotypes; as scientists they were atypical women; as women they were unusual scientists" (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987 p. 5).

Despite the popular beliefs regarding women and education, in 1880 at the age of twenty-five Lillien began college (DeFord, 1948).

After graduating from Vassar, Martin began her first teaching job at an Indianapolis High School that paid her seventy-five dollars, a salary considered "high for a woman" (DeFord, 1948 p. 25). Martin's salary was more because she taught "masculine" subjects such as science and physics. Martin's feminist beliefs helped her break new ground by allowing females into her physics courses, which had not previously been permitted (DeFord, 1948). Her egalitarian views allowed her to present a paper to an educator's group stating, "A public institution should supply the needs of each individual in the community, so that each may be able to make his contribution to the common good according to his highest individual expression" (DeFord, 1948,28).

Martin taught in Indianapolis for nine years and would be remembered forty-five years later by The Indiana Academy of Science for her work (DeFord, 1948).

While addressing teachers in a convention in San Francisco in 1889, Martin was offered three teaching positions on the Pacific Coast. She accepted the position as a vice-principal and the head of the science department in the Girls High School in San Francisco.

Even though Martin was trained as a scientific teacher, it was apparent that she was headed toward psychology. Curiosity and hatred of unproductive time, led Martin to ask a student, "What do you think of when your (sic) brushing your teeth?" (DeFord, 1948 p. 34). Martin believed that individuals should always keep their mind active, never wasting time on daydreams or "unproductive reveries" (DeFord, 1948 p. 34). "If you daydream long enough, you'll call yourself an idealist. Keep it up and you'll be a lunatic." She described daydreams as either "paralyzing or constructive according to their mental content and emotional force" (DeFord, 1948 p. 34).

Martin's approach to teaching involved a combination of scientific training and unknown psychological approaches. She told her students, "Divide the time equally between getting the facts and proving them. Use such equipment as may be at hand and make the most of it. Be systematic. Learn a little at a time, but learn it thoroughly. Do not be so bent on reflection that you lose the use of your senses. Do not confuse observations with conclusions. Do not wait to be questioned; ask your own questions and find your own answers" (DeFord 1948, p. 53).

It is quite apparent that Martin saw imagination as a motivator (DeFord 1948). Her teaching tactics included beginning class with a low voice to encourage students to listen, and enforcing her belief of "Lazy body, lazy mind" (DeFord 1948 p. 35). Martin seemed to practice what she preached to her students. In one of her classes, Lillien repeated a German quote and when a second-generation German student heard her, she criticized Martin. Martin responded:

That's fine, I'm reading Wilhelm Wundt's writings on psychology in the original, and I'm finding it hard going. After this you come here every day after school and we'll read the books together. You can help me out when I don't get the exact meaning (DeFord 1948 pp. 35 - 36).

Martin's interest in psychology began to grow. During her vacations from the Girls High School, she would read books on psychology, enjoying the works of Theodule Ribot, a French experimental psychologist whom Martin believed had views similar to those of her own.

During a summer vacation, Lillien told her friend Fidelia Jewett, "Do you know, I'd like to study psychology-really study it". Miss Jewett responded, "Well, if you want to, why don't you?" (DeFord 1948 p. 38).

Martin wasted no time, the following day she went back to San Francisco and discussed the idea of going to Germany to study psychology with two professors she knew at the University of California at Berkeley (DeFord 1948). One professor stated, "I doubt it if a German University would accept a woman. They make it tough enough for men and would make it worse for you". Lillien's response, "Well somebody has to start" (DeFord 1948 p. 39). That very day she quit the Girls High School and in the fall began her studies at the University in Gottingen Germany known as having "the best and most modern in psychological research" (DeFord 1948 pp. 38 - 39).

Because very little psychological literature had been translated into English, at this time the cutting edge of psychology was in Germany, where "the recognized leaders of science" taught in German (DeFord 1948 p. 51). Martin thus officially left her career as a general science teacher and entered into the world of psychology.

Contributions to Psychology:

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, psychology had begun to be accepted as a legitimate field of study and teachers were needed, but Lillien was an exception at the University in Gottingen. Women had been accepted in the arts, but not in the sciences. As she mingled with the other students, Martin began to be treated as an intellectual equal, and soon as a philosopher, not as the only woman (DeFord 1948). While at the university, Martin studied general psychology, aesthetics, the subconscious and humor in relation to psychology (Fenton 1943).

Professor George Elias Muller, who was quite popular during this time, held the chair of psychology at Gottingen. His ideas and methods impacted Lillien's work (DeFord 1948). The two co-published a monograph in 1899 called 'Zur Analyse der Unterschiedsempfindlichkeit', which has been described as "one of the classics of psychophysics" (Merrill 1943 p. 453). This article received attention from several influential intellectuals in the psychology field, such as E. G. Boring who referred to the publication as "the classical study of the psychophysics of lifted weights, that most thoroughly investigated psychophysical function" (Fenton 1943 p. 441). An American psychologist described the article as, "bringing the impalpable mind into the experimental laboratory" (DeFord 1948 p. 59). The American Journal of Psychology acknowledged the article for:

Its importance for psychophysics and the developing Wurzburg School lay in the fact that it introduced the concept of Einstellung into the problem of successive judgments. Kulpe in 1892 had shown that the reaction experiment was dependent on set. Later, under Kulpe's leadership the Wurzburg School (1901-1907) was to arrive at the conclusion that set (Einstellung) is the essential element in thinking (Merril 1943 p. 453).

Martin's second article, but first major psychology publication, was the lead article in the American Journal of Psychology in 1905 titled, "Experimental Prospecting in the Field of the Comic" (DeFord 1948). Described as, "an experimental investigation of the psychology of humor", this unique article allowed Martin to implement the methods she had learned in Gottingen with the subjects who spoke English, an exploration few had made (DeFord 1948 p. 59). Martin (1905), explained that her subjects were not humored by a picture necessarily but by "the associations aroused by the experience" (110-111). Thus, she concluded that it is how a subject is presented that will determine how an individual will respond.

Martin's second important American article "Experimental Study of Fechner's Principles of Aesthetics" was published in 1906 in the Psychological Review. The experimental article looked at the study of aesthetics according to Gustav Theodor Fechner's formulas. Fechner was a popular German experimental psychologist for whom Martin had interpreted in the past; not only had she explained his theories, but also demonstrated their validity (DeFord 1948). This article gained Lillien criticism from E. B. Titchener titled "Professor Martin on the Perky Experiments" in the American Journal of Psychology.

Although Titchener (1913) states in the beginning of the article that his main objective is not to criticize Martin, he continues by stating, "I am not convinced by her analysis of Fechner's after-image of memory" (p. 124). He believed that a series of experiments that Martin discussed were not "relevant to the points at issue" and not only questioned her methods of testing but also its relevance to her results (p.131).

Martin's response to Titchener's criticism was published in "Professor Martin on the Perky Experiments" (1913), an article which appeared in the American Journal of Psychology and consisted of letters between Martin and Titchener. She states that Titchener presented "an incorrect impression as to the data upon which I base my impression" (p. 579). The final part of Martin's article lists the ten individuals from the Psychological Institute of Bonn that helped her and asked Titchener to print the article. Titchener's response suggests that any "careful reader: would have seen in his first article that he was not giving a wrong impression. He completes the letter by asking Martin to reply (p. 579).

New psychology departments were eager to develop but they needed both staff and students. This desire for individuals helped women's acceptance in the field of psychology (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987).

As a result, Martin was not denied, but offered a position as a professor in psychology upon her return from Gottingen. David Starr Jordan, the individual who had helped her land her job in Indianapolis, had become Leland Stanford Junior University's first president and wanted Martin to become the assistant professor of psychology. She accepted the position and acted as the head of the psychology department when Frank Angell spent a year in Germany. Upon his arrival home, Angell was so pleased with Martin's work that he told her to start looking for researchers so the two of them could start working again. In 1909, after Fechner's suggestion, Martin was made an associate professor at Stanford (DeFord 1948). Before leaving Stanford, Martin added to her list of accomplishments the first woman to head a department (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987, 190).

Honorary Ph.D.:

Martin had worked under Oswald Kulpe on measuring imageless thought. In appreciation of this research, she was presented an honorary Ph.D. degree from the University of Bonn, in 1913, an honor which had never been granted to an American psychologist before, much less to a woman. It read:

The most distinguished, most illustrious woman, Lillien Martin, who occupies the position of regular professor in the Leland Stanford University; worthy both by name and reputation, philosophical, strenuous, strong, successful, most esteemed in experimental psychology and aesthetics; who has been able, with great labor, to produce by means of comparison a scientific method of suggestion to limit the projective method in normal psychology; to think out, complete, and introduce the second quantitative measurement of non-intuitive memory (De Ford 1948 p. 64).

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1967) states:

The honor was given for her original achievements in reducing the subject of imageless thought to exact measurement; in working out a method of suggestion (hypnotism) that is applicable in making investigations in normal psychology; in devising a method for the study of memory by projecting visual images: and in deducing principles of aesthetics through experimental study of aesthetic material (p. 153).

Her Contributions Continued:

It was 1914 when Martin published an article in gerontology on imagery and thought, concluding that an image does not seem to affect one's memory. Her conclusions, "helped to explain various psychological phenomena" and included that someone who has weak images may have the ability to think "clearly and accurately about the subject of the image" (DeFord 1948 p. 64).

The subconscious seemed to fascinate Martin. "An Experimental Contribution to the Investigation of the Subconscious" which was published in the 1913 edition of Psychological Review and in the 1915 edition of the American Journal of Psychology, helps explain Martin's view of the subconscious (Fenton 1943 p. 441). Her conclusion stated that those individuals who are likely to "see ghosts" are those who "are capable of producing vivid images, and projecting them into space" (DeFord 1948 p. 65).

Martin's research also included collaboration on an article with Dr. John Edgar Coover studying telepathic phenomena. Conclusions included that, although there was data to suggest the possibility of educating the subconscious mind, there was no data to support telepathy (DeFord 1948).

She also did studies, which looked at the subconscious in relation to introspection (1917a). It was her belief that she proved in her experiments that "an assumption lies at the base of the conclusions drawn form certain introspective data regarding the mental processes involved" (p. 242). She concluded the article by saying that our opinion of the information in the article depends on how we see the conscious and subconscious relating to each other (Martin 1917a). To sum up Martin's view of the subconscious, in 1916 she suggested that an image "reveals the mental and physical peculiarities and preferences of an individual" and that "an adequate and satisfactory diagnosis of a personality" may arise out of the "image method" (Merrill 1943 pp. 453-454).

By her sixty fifth birthday, Martin had achieved a great amount but unfortunately, was considered too old to teach by Stanford University. As a result, on February 7, 1916, after eighteen years of employment, she received a letter from President Ray Lyman Wilbur of Stanford University that read, "I wish in the name of the University to thank you for your loyal and distinguished services both as a scholar and as a teacher" (DeFord 1948 p. 67).

Although work in psychology before the 1940's was mainly found in the academic sphere researching the "human and animal behavior, sensation and perception, learning, and cognition", this was no longer an option for Martin (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987 p. 6). She decided to utilize what she had learned in psychology and to apply it in situations she found appropriate. Because clinical psychology did not seem to grow rapidly until after World War II, Martin was an unusual case as a practicing psychologist (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987). Due to the abrupt and forced end to her college teaching career, Martin took it upon herself to start on yet a new area. She continued her work as a consulting psychologist, was active in the California Society for Mental Hygiene, and published both articles and pamphlets on mental hygiene and did mental training of the healthy pre-school age child (Merrill 1943).

In December of 1916, Martin presented "Mental Hygiene and the Importance of Investigation" to the American Psychological Association and in 1917 published her results in the Journal of Applied Psychology. She discussed mental hygiene as, "the psychological work to be done in creating, maintaining, and restoring normal mental activity in a given individual" (Martin, 1917 p. 67). She continued by stating that mental hygiene should be investigated by assigning committees to certain aspects of mental hygiene, and having them explain it in such a way that others could understand by individuals in the field of psychology. She advised this subject be addressed quickly, by the staff, instead of it being put off until a later date. The following three most important reasons included:

To help explain her view, Martin decided to ask physicians their opinions on the need for professionals in mental hygiene. They not only agreed there was a need, but a couple offered spaces to Martin free of charge. They replied that they did not have experience or the time for patients in this area, but acknowledged that if individuals who are experienced in this area don't start taking on some of these patients, it would be done by the uneducated (Martin 1917). Her clients consisted of "maladjusted children, normal people with social, financial, or personal problems" (DeFord 1948 p. 71).

Although she had previously used hypnosis, she no longer used it because she believed it enabled the patient to rely too much on others. Martin's goal for her patients was "to create a self-starter in the right direction" (DeFord 1948 p. 71).

As a psychologist she relied on her seventy years of experience, research and "common sense" (DeFord 1948 p. 71). She became interested in psychosomatic medicine, believing mind and body were dependent on each other, so that when treating the mind one must not forget the body. In 1917, Martin wrote Mental Hygiene and the Importance of Investigating It (DeFord 1948 p. 71). She suggested "exercises" for twenty types of "conditions", such as "building up a sane and healthy philosophy of living" as a means of helping people understand that she was not a medical physician, nor did she want to be categorized with psychiatrists. She referred to a "patient" as a "consulter" to clarify her role (DeFord 1948 p. 72). Lillien states in "Mental Training for the Pre-School Age Child" that she wanted the Children's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor and other agencies to recognize the benefits of this information also for children.

It was her dream for mental hygiene clinics in every hospital and for this information to be used for preventive purposes. It was her belief that people forget that the mind is an important tool and that "all medical examination and treatment are for the prevention and cure of those physical ailments which would ultimately result in mental inefficiency and unhappiness" (Martin 1923 p. 13).

To help educate others, Martin wrote Group Tests Made to Yield Individual Diagnosis (1933). This book showed others how she psychologically examined and categorized individuals into groups of subnormal, normal, borderline, or supernormal intelligence. She knew that IQ tests had been criticized for trying to place individuals into these categories. As a result, Martin wanted to know an individuals' mental ability in order to help them receive the best counseling possible according to their abilities (Martin 1933).

Martin's interest in both children and mental health gave her an opportunity to open a hygiene clinic at Polyclinic Hospital in San Francisco and to do the same at Mount Zion Hospital shortly after. Her hard work and dedication allowed Martin to head both clinics and remain the psychologist. Her staff followed up on past patients and correlated experiments conducted by Lillien.

Even though she ran two clinics, she still found the time in the afternoons to run a private practice out of her house, an area usually found more comfortable than an office (DeFord 1948). Although it had been Martin's goal to focus on her own practice, she remained with the two clinics until she felt they were stable. In the meantime she spent a significant amount of time working at the two clinics.

Trained as a teacher, Martin was always eager to share her knowledge. She took it upon herself to train young girls as "mother's helpers"(DeFord 1948 p. 94). This allowed the girls to gain theory, experience and money while learning child psychology. She taught these girls her beliefs, including, "there are no bad children-but there are far too many who are badly brought up" thus allowing the people who would pass on her experience and knowledge to future generations (DeFord 1948 p. 95).

Martin published Mental Training for the Preschool Age, a book allowing the average individual to learn how to apply child psychology without being a professional. In it, she states that her experience has been that most problems in adults originated in childhood. It was in 1920 that she also "inaugurated: the first mental hygiene clinic for psychological examination of normal preschool children in the United States. Here she applied the belief "There are no problem children. There are only children with problems-problems caused by the adults who control them" (De Ford 1948 p. 82). This seemed to be a radical view for the times.

Listed below are the themes and rules stated in Martin's Mental Training for the Preschool Age:


Rule 1. Study the child's physical, mental and social heredity and train him in such a way as to strengthen what is good and overcome what is bad in him (18).


Rule 2. Every child should be examined physically and psychologically and his training based upon the results obtained (21).


Rule 3. Always bear in mind that the physical condition affects the mental and the mental condition affects the physical (28).


Rule 4. Remember that children learn through imitation. Examine into your daily life and see whether your family is setting a good example as regards manner and regularity of living, self-control, courtesy, consideration for others, etc. (32).


Rule 5. Form healthy physical and mental habits as regards eating, sleeping, gong to bed and getting up, bathing, dressing, working, mode of speaking, social forms, etc. (36).


Rule 6. Break up bad habits in the child, such as sucking his thumb, holding his breath when angry, crying to get his own way, biting his nails, lisping, stammering, etc. (41).


Rule 7. Cultivate a good disposition by encouraging calmness, cheerfulness, equanimity, emotional control and happiness under the disappointments of daily life, and by discouraging any tendency to moodiness and sulkiness (46).


Rule 8. Root out unhealthy emotions: jealousy, the cause of many unfair criticisms; suspicion, the forerunner of persecuting ideals; depression, the paralyzer; fear, rage, anger, anxiety, worry, discontent, resentment, the basis of so many nervous disturbances, and in their place plant the healthier emotions of sympathy, cheerfulness, contentment, etc (51).


Rule 9. Build up in your child worthy drives to action. Teach him that principle and duty, not alone preference or the approval of others, should direct his actions. Teach him to stand up bravely and face a situation (55).


Rule 10. Do not allow the child to hang, as it were, on your skirts and so grow up lacking in independence and initiative, and therefore suppress any autocratic tendencies in yourself or in any member of your family (59).


Rule 11. Train your child to be neither too responsive nor too resistant in his attitude (62).


Rule 12. Note the influence which is being exerted upon your child by the people of your neighborhood and teach him to adjust himself to his environment, getting what is good and avoiding what is bad (67).


Rule 13. Properly store and enrich the subconscious (72).


Rule 14. Learn to guide your child's play intelligently, for it is of great significance and importance in his education and development (79).


Rule 15. Guard against lying, petty thieving, running away, fighting, cruelty, and all other acts which may later result in delinquency and even criminal conduct (84).


Rule 16. Punishment should be given only to develop a child's character and not to relieve the parent's feelings (98).


Rule 17. Acquaint yourself with the child's intellectual and emotional life by being always a sympathetic listener (104).


Rule 18. Read and discuss with the child appropriate books for it is through stories that he can most economically be developed along moral, cultural and practical lines (108).

After forced retirement, Martin felt "old, lost, and lonely and discouraged" (DeFord 1948 p. 69). This allowed her to understand the elderly who also felt as though they were useless with out their jobs, as though they were not contributing to society. To understand this problem better, Martin traveled to Europe to find a solution to these feelings. How were others dealing with forced retirement (DeFord 1948)?

Europeans did not feel the same as Dr. Martin when it came to retirement. They were too busy with the war. The United States entrance into World War I in 1917, ended the period in history where individuals studied psychology in Germany to receive the best education.

It was at this point that Martin became interested in applied psychology. Because psychoanalysis did not catch on until after World War I, Martin was not implementing these theories into her practice. Although she was not against Freud's theories, she simply did not have any use for them (DeFord 1948).

In 1929, while Martin was talking to a friend about a child who was having trouble with their "repressive grandmother," her friend commented, "Too bad we can't eliminate grandma." Martin's reply was, "Let's salvage grandma instead" (Current Biography 1942 p. 577). In 1920, she opened her own private consulting office that would later be used as the home of the Old Age Counseling Center "(which officially opened in 1929)" (DeFord 1948 p. 76). According to Notable American Women, the center not only "evolved a systematic approach to rehabilitating old people who had become social liabilities," (1971) but also trained others, one of whom opened an Old Age Center in New York (Current Biography 1942). The Old Age School was:

  1. to provide for the mental rehabilitation of the older members of society;

  2. to train social workers and personnel managers having to do with older men and women, and

  3. to re-educate the middle aged to prevent the too early onset of the deterioration characteristic of advanced age (The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography 1967 p. 153).

Using herself as a guinea pig, Martin was able to learn how to correct some effects of getting older. When she realized she was slouching, Martin paced with a book on her head to perfect her posture. When her handwriting became shaky she typed all her notes (DeFord 1948). At age ninety her notes read, "many of the powers of the mind as well as of the body wane with advancing years. Memory reaches a peak and then declines. But there are compensating gains in insight and wisdom, and judgment is improved" (DeFord 1948 p. 74).

As she grew more interested in gerontology, Martin wrote Salvaging Old Age in 1930 and Sweeping the Cobwebs in 1933. She expressed her belief that:

Physiology and medicine have now taken their stand on the physical side, and I believe our contribution should be on the mental side. Until we are willing to face the fact that old age has definite deleterious characteristics, we shall not understand the seriousness of a problem which is due, in part to the old themselves, and in part to the misconception of society about the aging process (DeFord 82 p. 83)."

Her approach to elderly clients included physical and mental tests to see how far their minds had deteriorated. She would then ask about their past, their daily routine, financial situation, immediate and long term future objectives. After completion, and evaluation the patient would do mental and physical exercises. She observed a client in four visits, looking at their past and what she thought they would be like in the future, based on their beliefs and views of life. If needed, the fifth visit would help the client to look at themselves objectively (Martin 1944).

By 1942, Martin had seen over a thousand elderly individuals and over eight hundred were "completely rehabilitated". They had gone from burdens to individuals who could be independent.

By the end of 1943, the year Martin died, 2,874 clients had been to the Old Age Counseling Center. Part of its success lay in the fact that "Lillien found importance in understanding individuals rather than in categorizing them" (DeFord 1948 p.87).


It is apparent that Martin's accomplishments were many. Throughout her long career she shared what she learned in many ways and was honored for her wealth of knowledge. In 1910, Martin's name was on the American Men of Science's official directory of qualified scientists' in the United States (DeFord 1948). Lillien Martin was one of a few women mentioned for her contributions to the field of psychology. She was also mentioned in Titchener's publication that discussed experimental psychology (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987).

From 1914-1915, Dr. Lillien Martin was the vice-president of Section H of Anthropology and Psychology of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the first female vice president in the history of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (DeFord 1948). She was a member of the American Psychological Association and of Kongress fur Experimentelle Psychologie and of Sigma Xi, the honorary scientific society, and held the office of President of California Society of Mental Hygiene (DeFord 1948). After retirement Martin became the president of the College Equal Suffrage League and participated in the College Alumnae Association (DeFord 1948). In 1921, the third edition of American Men of Science, listed Lillien Martin with a star by her name, a symbol that indicated "eminence in the field" (Scarborough & Furumoto 1987 p. 167).

Current Status:

According to Notable American Women (1971), although her family does have some of her work, and there are some documents in Vassar's registrar office and alumnae office, Martin requested that her files be destroyed, making it difficult to know her exact opinions on issues and all her research. From what we do know by the end of her career, Lillien Martin had researched psychology in the areas of personality and individual differences, the elderly, intelligence, aesthetics and hypnotism, abnormal psychology, and the subconscious (Notable American Women 1971).