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Università degli Studi di Padova

PHAIDRA – Digital collections



Evolution of Psychology in Padua: Benussi to Metelli

Handwritten annotation

The virtual collection Evolution of Psychology in Padua: Benussi to Metelli gathers together materials and items to paint a picture of the scientific and educational activities of key figures in Italian psychology, specifically those of Vittorio Benussi, Cesare Musatti and Fabio Metelli.

The collection includes various types of material: unpublished documents, both typed pages and manuscripts; books that these scholars studied and worked on, many embellished with notes, glosses and drawings; and documents from the Psychology Library.

As such, it forms a heterogeneous collection of archive sources, including a number of books, but it is one that forms a unified body of material that takes its place alongside other digitised collections such as the University of Padova’s own Fondo Metelli, the Benussi Archive and the Musetti Archive of the ASPI (“Historical Archive of Italian Psychology”).


A page from the book Psychologie by A. Höfler with drawings and annotations by Vittorio Benussi

To make it easier to find and use the materials available on the Phaidra platform, they have been divided into four sub-collections:

  • Vittorio Benussi (1878-1927)
    includes four files (3 typewritten, 1 handwritten draft) of introductory lessons on experimental psychology, which were delivered by Benussi at the University of Padova during the 1922–23 academic year. The notes were assembled by Cesare Musatti. The collection also features a number of handwritten documents produced by Benussi that were found among the other materials.
  • Cesare Musatti (1897-1989)
    features three volumes of course notes from Musatti’s course in Experimental Psychology at the University of Padova, which ran from 1933 to 1935. The files were preserved by Musatti’s assistant, Fabio Metelli, and although they comprise a series of typewritten sheets, we can infer from the presence of annotations and corrections that these were the copies used by the lecturers.
  • Fabio Metelli (1907-1987)
    comprises two sets of typewritten course notes – Notes on Psychometrics and The Test Method – for Metelli’s course on the Psychology of Childhood and Adolescence at the University of Trieste in the academic year 1961–1962. It also includes the book Analisi fattoriale (“Factor Analysis”), which was published by Giunti in 1960, and which is reproduced online with the kind permission of the publisher along with Metelli’s own notes for a second edition.
    This volume – with its cargo of comments, corrections and suggestions – and the loose sheets of notes are particularly interesting since Metelli himself suggests in the introduction to the book that it is essentially a provisional edition published for reasons of educational contingency, and that it would be supplanted by new, complete edition. However, this latter version never did see the light of day.
  • The Library sub-collection is composed of volumes from the historical section of the Metelli Library that have been selected, in part, because they feature original comments, glosses and drawings, but also on the basis of their historic and cultural value, their rarity, and restrictions on access to the original copies due to their poor state of conservation.

    Also available online are an inventory register and a register of incoming material (starting from 1921), which, by providing a list of books acquired – and those otherwise present in the library – and a note of the expenses incurred (including equipment), help us to understand what the standard tests of the day actually were, and to some extent what equipment was used in the University of Padova’s Psychology Laboratory.

    Digitised volumes:

    • Höfler, Alois (1897). Psychologie. Wien: F. Tempsky.
    • Dragotti, Giuseppe (1923). La psicanalisi. Roma: L. Pozzi.
    • Morselli, Enrico (1926). La psicanalisi: studii ed appunti critici (2 v.). Torino: Bocca.
    • De Sarlo, Francesco (1903). I dati della esperienza psichica. Firenze: Tip. Galletti e Cocci.
    • de Sanctis, Sante (1929). Commemorazione di Vittorio Benussi. Padova: Tip. Antoniana.

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