June Etta Downey

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  • Topic: Wilhelm Wundt, Laramie, Wyoming, Edward B. Titchener
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  • Published : November 28, 2012
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A Biography
of June Etta Downey
South Georgia Technical College
August 20, 2010

June Etta Downey (1875-1932), Psychologist. Born on July 13, 1875, in Laramie, Wyoming. June came from a pioneer family that contributed a great deal to the development of the state. Her father, Colonel Stephen W. Downey was one of the first territorial delegates to the United States Congress from Wyoming, and it was largely through his efforts that the University of Wyoming was established.

Downey, like many other females pursuing professional careers, had to face many odds in order to achieve her goals. In early 1900’s the image of a professional woman was an unusual sight, particularly in a small place like Laramie. Most professional females were destined to become school teachers if they were not married. Downey avoided marriage in order to continue her higher education and being free to work in the field she always wanted experimental psychology.

Downey graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1895. After a year of teaching at the University of Chicago, where in 1898 she took a master’s degree in Philosophy and Psychology. In that year she joined the faculty of the University of Wyoming as an instructor of Philosophy as well. In the summer of 1901 she studied Psychology under Edward Bradford Titchener at Cornell University. She was promoted to assistant Professor of English and Philosophy in 1902 and to Professor in 1905. In 1904 she published a volume of poems titled Heavenly Dykes. After a sabbatical year of further study at the University of Chicago, she was awarded her P.H.D. in 1908, and on her return to the University of Wyoming she became head of her department.

Downey soon gave up the teaching of English to concentrate on Philosophy and Psychology, and the title of her professorship was changed formally to that in 1915. A gifted and often ingenious experimenter, Downey followed her principal interest in the Psychology of aesthetics into...
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