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Memory drum


This piece consists of a wooden box with a small window cut into one panel. This window is covered from the inside with a thin layer of metal. On the side is a small metal crank. One of the panels may be removed to reveal an aluminum tube with a toothed gear on its side. Taped to this tube is a list of typewritten words. A wooden tube with more paper taped onto it is set on a metal rod protruding from the side. There is a small metal mechanism, consisting of metal strips and a rod that turns along with the crank, screwed to the inside of the box.

Accession Number: 2013.psy.146

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Wood, metal, paper


On labels on the outside of the box: “Property of the University of Toronto”, “PSYCH 002”. On the inside of the box: “26 26”. On the paper taped to the aluminum tube:”1″, “1.Blue 2.Sky 3.Arm 4.Leg 5.Sell 6.Buy 7.Bed 8.Sleep”.

Dimensions (cm):

Height = 15.5, Width = 13, Length = 34.5


Given the words appearing on the scroll of on this memory drum, it appears that the last test it was used for experiments or demonstrations involving paired associates.

Typically, test subjects would be exposed to a series of paired words that they would have to memorize. When later shown only one word of the pair, subject generally have an easier time remembering associated the paired word if it is typically associated with the first word (like “blue” and “sky”) than if it has no typical association at all.

The method of paired associates was developed by Mary Whiton Calkins in the early 20th century.


Good. Minor scratches and abrasions on the outside of the box. The paper is torn and the metal parts are slightly tarnished.

Associated Instruments:


Date of Manufacture:


University of Toronto Department of Psychology

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: