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Collection Sigmund Freud Papers

About this Collection

Digitization of this collection was made possible by The Polonsky Foundation.

The papers of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) span the years from about the 6th century B.C.E. (a small Greek statue) to 1998, with the bulk of material dating from 1871 to 1939. The digitized collection documents Freud's founding of psychoanalysis, the maturation of psychoanalytic theory, the refinement of its clinical technique, and the proliferation of its adherents and critics. Many facets of Freud's life and work are reflected, 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.

The physical collection, consisting in its entirety of 48,600 items, is located in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and is organized in ten series as described in the collection's finding aid (PDF and HTML), updated with links to the digital content. The collection material is mostly in German, with some English and French. The digital edition comprises the contents of more than two thousand folders. Digitized in their entirety are those series described below containing papers that Freud or members of his family would have either created or owned. Also available digitally are interviews conducted by K. R. Eissler, a founder of the Sigmund Freud Archives (SFA), with Freud's associates, patients, and family members from the 1950s to the 1970s. Early interest in a digital edition of the Freud Papers and ongoing counsel from the SFA helped bring this digital project to fruition.

Omitted from the digital edition is the largely posthumous, supplemental material about Freud's life found in the Supplemental File series and parts of the Addition and Oversize series.

For additional background on the collection's provenance, see the Brief History of the Collection under the Articles and Essays tab.

Description of Series

Family Papers, 1851-1978

Correspondence, legal documents, estate records, writings, school records, immigration papers, certificates, genealogical data, a photograph, and printed matter documenting the lives and relationships of members of the Freud and Bernays families. Divided into three subseries, each arranged alphabetically therein by name of family member: Correspondence with Freud, Correspondence between Others, and a Subject File.

The Correspondence with Freud subseries consists of letters exchanged between Freud and family members including his mother Amalia Freud, his wife Martha Freud, and their children Ernst L. Freud, Martin Freud, Mathilde Freud Hollitscher, Oliver Freud, Sophie Freud Halberstadt, and Anna Freud, the only one of Sigmund Freud's children to become a psychoanalyst. Also included are letters to and from his sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and in-laws, including his sister-in-law and confidante Minna Bernays. Correspondence written by family members to people other than Freud are filed in the Correspondence between Others subseries. Also included in this subseries is correspondence between family members and with persons outside the family. Finally, the Subject File subseries contains legal documents, certificates, estate records, school records, writings, and printed matter documenting the lives of individual family members.

General Correspondence, 1871-1996

Correspondence including original letters, photocopies, transcripts, translations, and related background material between Sigmund Freud and his friends, professional associates, students, patients, and the public. Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent and therein chronologically. Unidentified correspondence is filed at the end of the series.

Nearly six hundred correspondents are represented in the series. At times, their correspondence is limited to a single letter to or from Freud. In other cases, the correspondence is extensive, revealing Freud as a prolific correspondent who frequently chastised others for a lack of similar diligence. Included is correspondence with Karl Abraham, Alfred Adler, Franz Alexander, A. A. Brill, M. Eitingon, Sándor Ferenczi, Wilhelm Fliess, Eduard Hitschmann, Ernest Jones, C. G. Jung, Oskar Pfister, Otto Rank, Theodor Reik, Hanns Sachs, Ernst Simmel, Wilhelm Stekel, and Edoardo Weiss, among many others.

Prominent women in the field represented in the series include Lou Andreas-Salomé, Ruth Mack Brunswick, Emma Eckstein, Jeanne Lampl-de Groot, and Joan Riviere. Notable among Freud's patients with whom he corresponded is Sergius Pankejeff whom Freud referred to as the "Wolf-Man." Other prominent correspondents include Albert Einstein with whom Freud corresponded on the nature of war, Carl Koller who shared Freud's interest in the medical uses of cocaine, and novelist and essayist Thomas Mann.

Subject File, 1856-1988

School, university, and military records; patient case files and record book; calendars; notes and notebooks; birth, citizenship, and marriage certificates; biographical data; birthday greetings; condolence letters; photocopies of book annotations and marginalia; financial and estate records; wills; and clippings and other printed matter. Arranged alphabetically by name of organization or institution, subject, or type of material and therein chronologically.

The Subject File series contains a wide variety of records documenting many aspects of Freud's life. It includes patient case files from the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna and the Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, largely during the 1880s. Copies of book annotations and marginalia by Freud and others provide glimpses into the development of psychoanalytic theory. Freud's career is highlighted in a large file of newspaper and magazine clippings as well as material concerning the Goethe Prize he received in 1930 and the Nobel Prize which he coveted but never received. Calendars kept by Freud record his daily activities from 1916 to 1918. Freud's early life is documented by biographical data, birth and marriage certificates, and gymnasium, university, and military records. His departure from Nazi-controlled Austria and immigration to London in 1938 is tracked through American diplomatic cables and newspaper clippings. The series also contains letters and telegrams written on his death just over a year after his arrival in England.

Writings, 1877-1985

Writings by Freud, including holograph manuscripts, typescripts, galley proofs, printed publications, and photocopies. Arranged chronologically largely by year of first publication and therein according to the bibliographic sequence established by James Strachey in Indexes and Bibliographies, volume 24 of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-analysis, 1974) and, for works published after 1974, by Ingeborg Meyer-Palmedo and Gerhard Fichtner, Freud-Bibliographie mit Werkkonkordanz (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 1989). Because of the large format of many of these items, the material has been filed in the Oversize series.

The writings range chronologically from an 1877 article on Freud's early research on eels to portions of his last major work, Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion, published shortly before his death. Included in the series are articles, case histories, portions of books, published letters, lecture notes, prefaces, introductions, a travel journal, chronologies, obituaries, bibliographic notes, and casual jottings.

Interviews and Recollections, 1914-1998

Interviews with Freud associates, patients, and family members conducted by K. R. Eissler, a founder and longtime secretary of the Sigmund Freud Archives, and recollections about Freud contained in correspondence, writings, and notes sent to or collected by Eissler. Arranged in two parts: Set A contains interviews and recollections that opened in the years prior to 2016, and Set B contains interviews that became fully opened in October 2016. Material within each set is organized as interviews and recollections and alphabetically therein by name of individual.

Most of the interviews date from the 1950s. Included are transcripts, some with corrections by the interviewee, and summaries of interviews, usually made when the subject requested that the interview not be tape recorded. Among those interviewed by Eissler are family members Anna Freud Bernays, Anna Freud, Ernestine Drucker Freud, Harry Freud, Oliver Freud, and Judith Bernays Heller; prominent associates such as Franz Alexander, Ludwig Binswanger, Felix Deutsch, Max Graf, Eduard Hitschmann, Edith Banfield Jackson, Ludwig Jekels, C. G. Jung, Oskar Pfister, Theodor Reik, Joan Riviere, Philipp Sarasin, Hermann Swoboda, and Edoardo Weiss; and patients including Sergius Pankejeff. Also included in the series are recollections about Freud contained in letters, writings, and notes either addressed to or collected by Eissler.

Addition, 1912-1983

Correspondence, exhibit material, photographs, a case history, an index, lists, and printed matter. Arranged in groupings that correspond to other series in the collection and therein alphabetically by name of person or organization, topic, or type of material.

Digitized within this series are photocopies of Freud's correspondence with writer Arnold Zweig, derestricted in 2010 and filed in the Addition rather than in the General Correspondence series because of the volume of the material. The legibility of the photocopies varies considerably. Omitted from the digital edition is posthumous, supplemental material about Freud's life and work.

Artifacts and Paintings, Circa 6th Century B.C.E.-1936

Pocket watch, a small Greek statue, and an oil portrait painting of Freud. Arranged by type of material.

The series contains Freud's pocket watch which he gave to his personal physician Max Schur and a small Greek statue which Freud kept on his desk and later gave to Angelika Frink. Presented here are photographs of both artifacts from multiple views. Also included are photographs of an original oil portrait of Freud by Wilhelm Victor Krausz contained in the collection.

Oversize, 1859-1985

Writings, university and military records, legal documents, correspondence, patient case files, notes, exhibit material, newspaper clippings, family tree, sketch, photograph, and map and chart. Arranged and described according to the series, containers, and folders from which the items were removed.

This series contains material removed from its original series because of its large physical size. Included are items from the Family Papers, General Correspondence, Subject File, and Writings series. The bulk of the series consists of Freud's writings which are housed in their entirety in this series because of their large format.  Omitted from the digital edition is the posthumous material from the Supplemental File series.