Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/120

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
EARLIEST RECOLLECTIONS.
By VICTOR and CATHERINE HENRI.

IN 1895 we published in a number of reviews and addressed to individuals a series of questions relative to the tenacity and distinctness of visual and auditive impressions, and to the earliest recollections of childhood. We have received one hundred and twenty-three answers to them, a larger number than we had anticipated, of which seventy-five came from Russia (obtained largely through the courtesy of Prof. A. Wedensky, of the University of St. Petersburg), thirty-five from France, seven from England, and six from America. Of them, further, thirty-five were from women and eighty-eight from men; seventy-seven from persons between sixteen and twenty-five years old; thirty from those between twenty-five and thirty-five years old, and sixteen from persons of between thirty-six and sixty-five years. Nearly all the respondents were teachers or pupils, and some were lawyers, some doctors, and two ministers.

In examining the answers we found it difficult to classify them fully and draw absolute general results from them. We proceeded thus: Each of us read the responses separately, and took note of the general ideas that seemed to be elicited from them; then one of us wrote in a general table in detail the principal points in each answer, and this done, the other underlined the points in the answers that seemed most important. The questions relative to visual and auditive images did not elicit any new results. Most of the persons answered that they had clear visual and weaker auditive images; a small number (thirteen) had better auditive than visual images; and there were persons who, using visual memory, were better able to represent forms, others colors; some, with auditive memory, pieces of music, and others words. We asked these questions in order to learn whether there was not some relation between the nature of the predominant images held in the eye or ear and the first recollections.

To the questions concerning earliest recollections, one hundred of our respondents had some recollection from infancy which seemed to be first; twenty had two or three recollections of infancy separated by days, weeks, or months, but could not give their chronological order; and three had no special recollection which they could indicate as earliest or as from a certain age. They could recall a series of facts, generally without chronological order. The age to which they referred these facts—five, six, or seven years—was quite advanced, and considerably greater than that given by other persons—two or three years—for their earliest recollections.