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Tracing the lineage
1. Finding the dissertation
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global
Comprehensive collection of dissertations. Entries will list dissertations from 1743 to present, and full text is available 1997 onward (some earlier). Search by Author and click on the link for "Citation/Abstract" to find information about the dissertation.
You'll see that the adviser is listed in entries for dissertations written since the late 90s or so. Be aware that names can change, so try searching variations to be sure you're not missing it.
If the full text of the dissertation is available, you will also see the dissertation adviser listed in the beginning of the dissertation.
2. Finding the curriculum vitae
For scholars who are still active, you may be able to find a curriculum vitae that lists the dissertation adviser. These are usually posted on the academic department's website.
CV: Gary L. Wells
This is an example of a CV that lists the adviser ("major professor"). It can be found on the Iowa State Psychology Department's website, or via Google.
If the scholar is no longer active, it is sometimes possible to find an archived version of the CV by searching for the departmental website in the Wayback Machine, an archive of previous versions of websites.
3. Finding a published version of the dissertation
Even if the dissertation is not available online, often a portion of the dissertation has been published as a journal article or adapted into a book. Typically, the author will acknowledge his or her dissertation advisor in this adapted form of the dissertation, so the next step is to find the full text of this article or book.
THE article index in psychology. If you search for a scholar as an author, and sort by date, you can usually tell by the title whether a journal article is based on dissertation research. The full text of the article will often thank the dissertation adviser by name.
If the dissertation has been published as a book, you can also search the library catalog to locate it. As a shortcut, you may also search Google Books, and though it may not be available online in full text, sometimes you may search the text for "adviser" in snippet view and see enough to identify the adviser's name.
4. Finding biographical sources
As you trace the lineage further back in time, it may be possible to find biographical information about scholars that indicate advisers and other intellectual influences.
Search for names of psychologists as a Subject to find articles and books about individuals.
While there are some online projects for compiling academic lineages, not all genealogies have been checked for accuracy.
Resources for history of psychology
Psychological Machinery by The book covers the topic of experimental instrumentation at the turn of the 20th century. The authors introduce the role of instruments in the process of establishing psychology as a science. They concentrate on identifying historical devices and problems with rediscovering their functionality. The core of the book consists of a categorized list of instruments with a description of their purpose and mechanical design. The categorization covers recording and time measuring devices, instruments designated for the research of human senses, memory and learning, and devices for physiological measurement. The publication also includes a companion website with short videos demonstrating selected instruments in action.