James Capshew

James Capshew

University Historian & Professor, History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine


  • Ph.D., History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1986
  • M.A., History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1982
  • B.A., Psychology, Indiana University, 1979

About James Capshew

James H. Capshew is the Indiana University Historian. He received a B.A. (1979) in psychology from Indiana University, and an M.A. (1982) and Ph.D. (1986) in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys adjunct appointments in the departments of History and of American Studies, and the School of Education.

Capshew has worked in the broad field of American science and learning with several foci of interest, including studies of academic psychology in social and institutional contexts and the history and culture of higher education, including university leadership. The environmental humanities, including environmental history, are increasingly the subjects of his research, teaching, and service. Capshew’s current IU affiliations include the Office of the Bicentennial and the Integrated Program in the Environment.

Capshew served as editor of History of Psychology, a research journal sponsored by the American Psychological Association, from 2005 to 2009. He was on the advisory committee as well as subject editor for entries on psychology for the New Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Scribners, 2007).

Publication highlights

The Legacy of the Laboratory: Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, 1888-2013 (PBS, 2014).

“History of Psychology since 1945: A North American Review” in A Historiography of the Modern Social Sciences, edited by R.E. Backhouse & P. Fontaine (Cambridge, 2014), 144-182.

Herman B Wells: The Promise of the American University (Indiana, 2012).

“Reflexivity Revisited: Changing Psychology’s Frame of Reference,” in Psychology’s Territories: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives from Different Disciplines, edited by M.G. Ash & T. Sturm (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006).

“Kinsey’s Biographers: A Historiographical Reconnaissance” in Journal of the History of Sexuality 12 (2003): 465–486. [With M.H. Adamson, P.A. Buchanan, N. Murray, N. Wake]

Psychologists on the March: Science, Practice, and Professional Identity in America, 1929–1969, (Cambridge, 1999).