Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES



The varied holdings in philosophy, psychology, and related disciplines include fields such as ethics, moral philosophy, the occult sciences, New Thought, mental healing, and mysticism. Although the general collecting policy is comprehensive, specific exceptions should be noted. Chinese philosophy is collected on a representative basis, and Russian philosophy in the Balto-Slavic languages is acquired selectively. Systems and manuals in the field of psychology and material on psychological laboratories are collected on a representative basis; in the field of ethics, systems, manuals, and material on temperance are collected selectively. Dissertations and theses from American universities are acquired on a representative basis, while those from foreign universities are acquired selectively.


The growth of the collections in the broad field of philosophy, psychology, and related subjects is indicated by the following:

1854Astor Library1,500 volumes1
1921New York Public Library19,158

In 1852-53, the Astor Library acquired a philosophical and miscellaneous collection of between 4,000 and 5,000 pieces. The Bancroft collection, purchased by the Lenox Library in 1894, was strong in the field of German philosophy. Among gifts bearing directly on this field is the James Black temperance collection presented in 1917 by the National Temperance Society. In 1948-49 the library received the Clarence Evans James collection of about 1,000 books and pamphlets chiefly on astrology, but also including nineteenth-century works on occultism, theosophy, and similar subjects. Other important gifts and acquisitions bearing indirectly on these areas are discussed below.


Resources devoted to philosophy are excellent. Existentialism is particularly well represented, and full collections of both primary and secondary materials for the study of the German philosophers are present. Among the most notable working collections are those devoted to Spinoza and Kant.

Psychology is represented by a good collection in its nonclinical aspects. Included are many interesting works in the fields of phrenology and physiognomy. In the field of ethics, particularly in materials dealing with war and peace, dueling, and temperance, the collection is representative.

The Research Libraries have long collected materials in the broad area of philosophy and psychology not generally acquired by other learned institutions. Such subjects as parapsychology, spiritualism, clairvoyance. poltergeists, occultism, and witchcraft are represented. There is a substantial collection of material on New Thought. The Jewish Division holds important collections on the Kabbala and Hasidism. The periodical holdings are substantially complete with many lesser-known journals held in files very rarely found in this country. Philosophy textbooks are not generally collected.


Translations into English of the works of foreign philosophers, and critical material about them, are acquired regularly, in addition to texts in the original languages. Translations into other languages of material written originally in English are, however, seldom acquired. For example, few of the numerous translations of Bertrand Russell's writings have been acquired, although there is an extensive collection of his works in English, and critical material in all languages. An exception is made in the case of the Slavonic Division, which regularly acquires translations into Russian of material in the lesser-known Balto-Slavic languages.



Periodical holdings are substantial for most countries; the large majority of the world's important philosophical journals are available. The resources include complete runs of Archiv für Philosophic (1947- ), Aristotelian Society Proceedings (1887- ), Journal of Philosophy (1904- ), Revue philosophique (1876- ), and many

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others. The Research Libraries currently receive approximately 110 periodical titles in this area.

The collections for western philosophy are strong. The Public Catalog contains entries for individual philosophers and for schools of philosophy; for instance there are approximately 80 entries in the card catalog under the heading "Stoicism," but a number of references lead to individual Stoic philosophers such as Cleanthes, Musonius, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius; further, there are 78 entries for Marcus Aurelius and 66 entries for works about him. Similarly, Scholasticism receives some 170 entries, with the major figures, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure, having 650 and 90 entries. Philosophy holdings in the Jewish Division center on some 500 volumes of the works of Moses Maimonides and Judah ha-Levi in Hebrew texts and exegeses. Modern western philosophy is well represented, with about 400 entries treating Existentialism as a subject, excluding the works of individual philosophers. Holdings of the works of such figures as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Gabriel Marcel are almost complete both in the original languages and in translation.

Oriental Philosophy

Philosophical materials in the Oriental Division make up a good working collection, although one that is not as detailed or complete as the resources in other language areas. Arabic, Chinese, and Indian philosophy are the strongest collections. A preponderance of some 380 texts and critical works in Arabic philosophy are in Arabic, with parallel translations in certain cases. Chinese philosophical texts and critical works number about 240 items, including texts in Chinese. Classics in this field are held in a great number of editions and translations. There are some 360 Indian philosophical titles. The majority of the texts in Sanskrit are in the various printed collections and series that are an outstanding feature of the Oriental Division, among them the Poona Oriental Series and the Bibliotheca Indica. Yoga and Vedanta are the best represented of the six schools of Indian philosophy.

Spinoza and Kant

The holdings of works by and about Spinoza make up a particularly good working collection, numbering about 100 original works and some 450 critical books and journal articles. The Rare Book Division has two states of the first edition of Tractatus theologico-politicus (1670); there is also a French translation entitled Reflections curieuses ... (1678) in the general collections. There are late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century refutations of Spinoza's theories, and translations of his works. Among collected editions are the Latin edition of Paulus (1802-03), the "Supplementum" in Latin and Dutch of 1862, the German edition of Schaarschmidt and Baensch (1888-1905), the editions of Van Vloten and Land (1882-83), Carl Gebhardt (1924), and others. Periodicals related to Spinoza include the Spinozistisch Bulletin (1938-40), and Biosophical Review (1931-54).

The collection of materials by and about Immanuel Kant includes some 200 works by the philosopher and an additional 475 about him. First and early editions are included in the collection; for example, the first (1781) third, fifth, and sixth editions of Critik der reinen Vernuft, and a first edition of Die Religion Innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernuft (1793), are included. The standard collected edition of the Berlin Academy in 21 volumes (1900-38) is present, as is a run of Kantstudien (1897-1919, 1920-43, 1953- ).


The collection of theosophical materials numbers 600 titles, including 70 periodical files, of which 9 were current in 1966. Among the older periodicals is a run of Theosophical Review (London, 1887-1909), and among current publications are Theosophist (Madras, 1879- ), and Theosophy (Los Angeles, 1912- ). The book materials include collected and other editions of the works of Helene Petrovna Blavatsky, Jakob Böhme and others. A significant amount of material is regularly added to the collection.

Rarities and Manuscripts

In addition to the first and early Spinoza and Kant editions mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, possibly the most noteworthy rarity is a first edition of René Descartes' Discours de la méthode. In the Rare Book Division are two copies of a Biblia pauperum (Strasbourg, 1490) said to have been compiled by Saint Bonaventure, who is also the purported author of the Speculum beatae Mariae Virginis (Augsburg, 1476) and the established author of De triplici via (Cologne, 1475). Among other incunabula in the division relating to philosophy are Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa contra Gentiles (Venice, 1480) and his Quaestiones de duodecim quodlibet (Venice, 1476), Ibn Sina's Metaphysica Avicenne (1495), William Ockham's Quodlibeta (Paris, 1487), Boethius' De consolatione Philosophiae (Toulouse, 1481), and Plato's Opera (Venice, 1491).

This is not a field in which the Manuscripts and Archives Division has sought out or collected manuscripts, but many modern figures of significance are represented by one or more letters in autograph collections and collections of personal correspondence in the division. Included, for example, are 138 letters of John Dewey, 74 of Josiah Royce, and 18 of William James. Medieval manuscripts include Boethius's "De consolatione Philosophiae" written in Lombardy and dated December 29, 1381, and 2 fifteenth-century versions of Aristotle's "De virtutibus et vitiis."


Resources: Books

Psychology in its nonclinical aspects is one of the library's strong subjects, with approximately 14,100 volumes. Psychiatry as a branch of medicine is collected only selectively; specific medical areas of the subject, such as nervous diseases or epilepsy, are not collected at all. Periodical holdings are substantial on an international level, with such titles in the subject area of psychology as Archives de psychologie (1901- ), Imago (1912-34), and Journal of General Psychology (1928- ); in psychiatry, titles such as Mental Hygiene (1917- ) and American Journal of Psychiatry (1921- ). The library receives some 115 journals in psychology, applied psychology, social psychology, and related fields, and fewer than 10 titles in psychiatry. The book collections contain full holdings for major figures, as well as many

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secondary works. There are the standard editions of the leading theorists, Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Alfred Adler, and others, with many individual original and critical works. Also included are a number of early psychological and psychiatric books, including a French translation of Robert Whytt's work on nervous, hypochondriac, and hysteric diseases entitled Les Vapeurs (Paris, 1767).

Dreams, clairvoyance, somnambulism, and hypnotism form another important subject area; among relevant materials is Revue de l'hypnotisme (1887-1913). The collection of early American dream books has been described by Harry Weiss.2 The General Research and Humanities Division continues to collect dream books in hard covers, but does not acquire the many ephemeral paper-back publications on the subject. Hypnotism as a stage subject is of considerable interest to the Theatre Collection. In the collection of the Society of American Magicians there are the press books of the American magician Howard Thurston; the Theatre Collection also holds 25 volumes of manuscripts, letters, articles, and clippings for the period 1855-1909 relating to magic, hypnotism, spiritualism, legerdemain, and ventriloquism gathered by Dr. Saram R. Ellison. The collection maintains clipping files of reviews, photographs, and similar material filed under the name of individual hynotists. There is also a card catalog subject entry under the heading "Drama--Subjects--Hypnotism" which provides references to reviews and pictures of theatrical performances dealing with hypnotism.

The New York Public Library collection of materials on phrenology is significant. It numbers about 375 books and pamphlets and includes a run of Phrenological Journal and Magazine of Moral Science (Edinburgh, 1823-47).

Resources: Manuscripts

An extensive group of the papers of Max Wertheimer, founder of Gestalt psychology, are in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. Typescripts of articles and correspondence of James Oppenheim in the division relate to psychoanalysis, as do similar materials by Robert West and Otto Juliusburger. A 127-page typescript of Sigmund Freud's Der Mann Moses und der Monotheismus is accompanied by page proofs and the printed text of sections translated into English and published in 1939.

The papers of the Willow Springs Phrenological Society of Willow Springs, Illinois, consist of the records of proceedings from 1847 to 1851. These give much incidental information on the activities of the Society.


Three collections totalling 10,700 volumes are prominent in this resource area of the Research Libraries: temperance, dueling, and war and peace.


The temperance holdings number some 4,000 volumes. Most aspects of this subject are collected on a selective basis; only bibliography, history, and items relating to the Prohibition Party are collected comprehensively.

Entries in the Public Catalog provide such categories as lectures, addresses, and sermons; biblical arguments for temperance; fiction, drama, poetry; and songs and music related to the subject. The periodical holdings are of importance, numbering some 450 titles, mostly from the nineteenth century. The Research Libraries currently receive some 15 titles from six countries, including American Issue (1926, 1928- ), Canadian Forward (1927- ), and the Finnish Alkoholikysmys (1954- ). The files of the Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League Yearbook, are substantially complete. Timothy Shay Arthur's classic Ten Nights in a Bar-room (1854) is in the Rare Book Division; a copy of Walt Whitman's Franklin Evans; or the Inebriate (1842) in original wrappers is in the Berg Collection.

The James Black temperance collection presented by the National Temperance Society in 1917 has an unusual range of historical materials, including a number of scarce pamphlets. The society added to the gift in 1941 with a further large collection consisting of 357 volumes, 538 pamphlets, about 3,000 separate periodicals, 51 post cards, and 15 framed portraits of former presidents of the society.

Several collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division relate to temperance. Most prominent are 8 boxes of correspondence of Mary Hannah Hunt, educator and temperance reformer of Massachusetts, covering the years of her service with the International Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 1890 to 1906. The archive also includes the correspondence and papers of the Scientific Temperance Federation of Boston during the years 1906 to 1918. Other material on temperance is in the Malone theatre collection, in the Smith family papers of Peterboro. New York (especially in the papers of Gerrit Smith), and in the Cyrus Williams papers.


A collection of over 500 volumes ranges from titles of the sixteenth century, including the works of Andrea Alciati and Girolamo Muzio, to the present. The library continues to collect comprehensively in this area. Of note are seventeenth-to nineteenth-century volumes of ordinances, court decisions, laws, and proclamations against dueling in England, Europe, Mexico, and Argentina. There are no related manuscripts.

War and Peace

The holdings include a large collection of books, as well as extensive files of periodicals and serial publications of organizations promoting peace, both American and foreign. Among the periodical holdings are such items as Noah Worcester's Friend of Peace (1815-27), World Affairs [ Advocate of Peace, etc.] (1854- , incomplete), and the year books and annual reports of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1911- ). More than 50 international periodical titles are currently received, including Survival (London, 1959- ), Journal of Peace Research (Oslo, 1964- ), and Baris Dünyasi (Istanbul, 1962- ). A substantial proportion of the book material bears on the first and second International Peace Conferences at The Hague in 1899 and 1907, and on the Paris Peace Conference

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of 1919. Material on conscientious objectors and other subjects related to war and peace is also collected in depth by the Research Libraries. Handbills and other fugitive materials are acquired when available, and housed in the ephemera collection of the Rare Book Division.

In the Manuscripts and Archives Division the Women's Peace Union papers in 9 boxes contain correspondence, publicity material, petitions to Congress, and minutes for the period 1920 to 1941. In addition, the selected papers of Carrie Chapman Catt, lecturer and American woman suffrage leader, are concerned with peace, particularly for the period 1913 to 1941. Items from the Norman Thomas papers cover peace activities from 1905 onward. The feminist, peace, and world government movements of modern times are substantially documented in manuscripts and in printed matter in the Schwimmer-Lloyd Collection of 1,777 boxes and 420 linear feet of material. Included are the correspondence and papers of Rosika Schwimmer (1877-1948), Hungarian feminist and pacifist, and Lola Maverick Lloyd (1875-1944), American suffragist and pacifist. Files include those of the Ford Peace Expedition and Neutral Conference, the International Committee for Immediate Mediation, and the Campaign for World Government. The collection is multilingual with correspondence and printed matter in English, German, Hungarian, and other languages; access was restricted until January 1, 1974.3

Cruelty to Animals

The catalog entry "Animals--Treatment" locates materials which include many periodical and society publications from the early nineteenth century to the present. Seven current periodical runs include the National Humane Review (1913- ).


Occultism is particularly well represented in materials on magic and witchcraft. Magic is discussed with the holdings of the Theatre Collection. Witchcraft is one of the richer collections of historical materials, particularly in records of early trials, both American and European.4 Certain books on Oriental customs in the Oriental Division deal with witchcraft.

Periodical holdings in the occult field are extensive and varied, with such titles as Revue spirite (1858- ), Rosicrucian Fellowship Magazine (1913- ), and Journal of Parapsychology (1937- ).

The Manuscripts and Archives Division has 8 examinations, charges, and indictments for witchcraft of late seventeenth-century Massachusetts, among them the "Examination of Tittuba the Indian Woman. March 1 and 2, 1691/2."

The Spencer Collection has associated materials, among them 2 illustrated paper manuscripts from nineteenth-century Thailand, one a fortune teller's notebook (probably made for his own use) and the other a sorcerer's handbook, folded in accordion style, with illustrations of fortune telling, witchcraft, and sorcery.


Approximately 700 titles (1,400 volumes) bear on this popular philosophical movement. Examples of the works of O. S. Marden, Ralph Waldo Trine, and others are present. Some 62 separate periodical files are a major feature of the holdings in this field; only 2, The Aquarian Age (1918- ) and Science of Mind Magazine (1927- ), are current.


This is a good working collection of 2,200 volumes with strong holdings on the Kabbala and Hasidism in the Jewish Division. The Slavonic Division collects works on Russian mystics primarily as examples of literature and only secondarily for their philosophical or religious aspects. A rare title edited by Johann Amos Comenius entitled Lux in tenebris (1657) was acquired in 1952. Described at the time of its acquisition as probably the only copy in this country, the book deals with prophecies made by three seventeenth-century seers.5

The Kabbala and Hasidism

Approximately 550 entries in the card catalog cover works on the Kabbala and editions of kabbalistic works from incunabula to the present day. Moses Nahmanides' commentary on the Pentateuch is in the kabbalistic manner; three of the Jewish Division's incunabula are editions of the work, published in Rome (ca. 1480), Lisbon (1489), and Naples (1490). A similar commentary by Bahya ben Asher, printed in Naples in 1492, is also in the division. Another significant group of material consists of texts of the Zohar (called the Kabbalistic Bible) from its first editions in Mantua and Cremona (1558-60) to the most recent printings. Further items are devoted to the renaissance of the Kabbala in sixteenth-century Palestine, primarily in the works of Moses Cordovero. The division has a first edition of his Pardes Rimonim [Garden of Pomegranates] (Krakow, 1591), and works from the school of Isaac Meyer collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Division also deals with the Kabbala.

The Research Libraries have a full collection, numbering over 500 book and journal article titles, of legends and works issued since the founding of the Hasidic movement in the eighteenth-century. Among them is the first printed work of Hasidism, that of Jacob Joseph, ha-Kohen, of Polonnoye issued in Koretz in 1780; also copies of the first collection of legends about the founder, Israel Baal Shem Tob, issued simultaneously in Berditchev and in Kopys in 1815. The modern literature of the movement is well represented. There are some 250 critical studies and exegeses.

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