Sigmund Freud Collection Now Online

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Oil portrait of Sigmund Freud by Wilhelm Victor Krausz 1936.

February 1, 2017

The Sigmund Freud Collection at the Library of Congress has been digitized and is now online at loc.gov/collections/sigmund-freud-papers/about-this-collection/.

The online collection, with more than 20,000 items, contains the personal papers of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis whose ideas of the unconscious and theories on sex, repression, transference and religion profoundly influenced 20th-century Western thought. His theories still generate controversy.

The digitization of Freud’s papers has been made possible by a generous grant from The Polonsky Foundation, a UK-registered charity, which primarily supports cultural heritage, scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, and innovation in higher education and the arts. Its principal activities include the digitization of significant collections at leading libraries (British Library; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Bodleian Library, Oxford; Cambridge University Library; New York Public Library; and Vatican Apostolic Library).

“We are delighted to support the Library of Congress in the important project of making Freud’s legacy more widely available, both to researchers and the broader public,” said Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).

Seventy-eight years after his death, Freud, who escaped to London after the Nazi takeover of Austria prior to World War II, remains a primary figure in modern cultural and intellectual history. The collection documents the formulation of Freud’s thinking, including the birth and maturation of psychoanalytic theory, the refinement of its clinical technique and the proliferation of its adherents and critics.

Freud’s papers at the Library are part of a larger body of materials relating to psychoanalysis and the Freudian movement donated, beginning in 1952, by the Sigmund Freud Archives. A private organization of analysts in New York, the Sigmund Freud Archives was created to collect and preserve for scholarship the work of Freud and others in the field of psychoanalysis. Additional items were obtained through purchase, transfer, and gift or bequest of others, including Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud.

The collection reveals Freud’s life and work, including his early medical and clinical training; his relationship with family, friends, colleagues, students, and patients; his association with early psychoanalytic societies; his perspectives on analytical training; and his numerous writings. It contains family papers, correspondence, writings, legal documents and certificates, notebooks, and other materials of a personal nature encompassing his life and career. People of great prominence in 20th-century history are among the correspondents: Franz Werfel, Theodor Hertzl, Stefan Zweig, C.G. Jung, Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Havelock Ellis and Romain Rolland.

Most of the handwriting is in the so-called Gothic or Sütterlin script used by writers of German at the time. Interspersed with mostly original items are photocopies, facsimiles, transcripts, and English translations of some of the material. Also included are more than 300 interviews with Freud associates, patients and family members after his death conducted by K.R. Eissler, a director and founder of the Sigmund Freud Archives.

The Library of Congress is the premier research center for the study of Freud and his circle and some of its critics. Among the more than 100 related collections are the papers of Anna Freud and other Freud family members. Other collections include those of Karl Abraham, Siegfried Bernfeld, Marie Bonaparte, A.A. Brill, Wilhelm Fliess and Sergius Pankejeff, one of Freud’s best-known patients, identified in Freud’s writings as the “Wolf-Man.” Also available in the Library are the papers of therapists who differed or broke from Freud: C.G. Jung, Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Reich, Theodore Reik and Francis G. Wickes.

The Library’s Manuscript Division holds nearly 70 million items, including the papers of 23 U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge. For more information about the collections and holdings of the Manuscript Division, visit loc.gov/rr/mss/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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