Psychiana: Moscow, Idaho's Mail Order Religion

Latah County Historical Society

Psychiana was created by Frank B. Robinson and was grounded in the belief that everybody could harness the power of God.

Psychiana was a mail order religion founded in Moscow, Idaho operating between 1928 and 1952.  This religion emphasized the power of God within everybody.  Psychiana taught that people could harness this God-Power (as they referred to it) in order to live a fuller, happier life.  Psychiana believed traditional churches did not teach people how to harness the power of God in their everyday life.  At the center of the Psychiana beliefs was a passage from I Corinthians 3:16 : "Know ye that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God liveth in you?"  Through the teachings of Psychiana people could live more fulfilling lives in almost all aspects of life.  Psychiana believed that the power of God could achieve great things, even to bring about the downfall of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.  Psychiana advertised heavily in national and international publications to increase their student population.  Initially when you signed up for Psychiana lessons you would pay $20 for 20 lessons, delivered bi-monthly.  Once you completed these lessons you could continue to more advanced teachings.  The Latah County Historical Society is happy to present this exhibition as an attempt to de-mystify the religion and provide primary source material for scholars.

Psychiana was founded by Dr. Frank Bruce Robinson in 1928 while he was working as a druggist in the Corner Drug Store in Moscow, Idaho.

Before he founded Psychiana Dr. Frank B. Robinson moved to Moscow with only $42 in his pocket and his wife, Pearl, had to convince him to stay rather than going back to Yakima.

The first office of Psychiana, Inc.
The first office building purchased for the business of Psychiana.  This building was purchased only six months after the first Psychiana advertisement appeared.

Psychiana grew quickly, acquiring more buildings in Moscow, Idaho and becoming one of the largest employers in the city during the 1930s and 1940s.

Psychiana employees in front of the new office building on the SE corner of 3rd St. and Jackson St. in Moscow, Idaho.

Psychiana advertised their lessons heavily in print media and on the radio.

These advertisements, and many more like them, helped to spread Psychiana across the world.

The mailing department at Psychiana Headquarters was a busy place. Subscriptions and testimonial letters mail came from all corners of the world.

Psychiana lessons were assembled at this motorized rotating table. The tabletop rotated so that each worker could easily add different components to a lesson packet.

Dr. Frank B. Robinson (right) maintaining one of his printing machines. The printing department at Psychiana was capable of printing over 500,000 pieces of literature in a day.

Dr. Frank B. Robinson was a man of many industries, at one time he owned the Daily News-Review and three pharmacies.

When Dr. Robinson was beginning the Psychiana movement he did not like the way his teachings were being covered in the local newspaper. Dr. Robinson hired Mr. W. T. Marineau to move his press from Elk River, Idaho to Moscow, Idaho. The Daily News-Review later became the Daily Idahonian.

Rather than writing out his thoughts, Dr. Frank B. Robinson preferred to dictate his thoughts for later transcription.

Two employees hard at work transcribing the thoughts of Dr. Frank B. Robinson.
Forget me not
When a student forgot to pay his or her subscription fee, Dr. Frank B. Robinson would send the student a piece of string as a reminder.

Apart from advertisements and lessons, Dr. Frank B. Robinson spoke about Psychiana across the country. Here, Dr. Frank B. Robinson is speaking to a packed auditorium is in Los Angeles, California.

Ready to ride
Dr. Frank B. Robinson sitting in his Duesenberg in front of his home in Moscow, Idaho. He was known locally as a car aficionado.

Dr. Frank B. Robinson and his wife, Pearl. Pearl was a devoted member and supporter of the First Presbyterian Church of Moscow.

The Robinson family seated in their living room. From left to right: Dr. Frank B. Robinson, Alfred Bruce Robinson, Florence Joan Robinson and Pearl Bey Robinson.

Dr. Frank B. Robinson at Robinson Park
Dr. Frank B. Robinson was very generous with his good fortune and continually gave back to the community.  He is seen here standing in front of Robinson Lake Park, a park he bought and donated to the public.  The lake has been drained but Robinson Park is still maintained and enjoyed by the public today.

Dr. Frank B. Robinson died on October 19, 1948. Pearl and Alfred Robinson continued to operate Psychiana in his absence until finally closing its doors in 1953.

Credits: Story

Psychiana: Moscow's Mail Order Religion was developed by the Latah County Historical Society.

Zachary Wnek, Museum Curator, Latah County Historical Society, developed this exhibition for the Google Cultural Institute.

References used in research for this exhibition:

Petersen, Keith C., "Psychiana": the Psychological Religion, Latah County Historical Society, Moscow, Idaho, 1991.

The Amazing Story of "Psychiana," Psychiana, Inc. No date.

What is Psychiana?: A Concise Yet Comprehensive Brochure Explaining in Detail the whole "Psychiana" Movement, Psychiana, Inc. No Date.

History of Idaho: Personal and Family History Volume III, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 1959 p. 70-71.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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