Part of the library of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, is housed in Archives & Special Collections. The library consists of 770 titles dating from 1554 to 1938 and is rich in 19th and early 20th century psychiatry, neurology and psychoanalysis. Reflecting Freud's interests during the early part of his career, there is much relating to dreams, hypnotism, hysteria, and sexuality. Most works are in German or French, though there is considerable material in English and a smaller number of titles in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian. Approximately 54 volumes have Freud's signature or marginalia or contain inscriptions to Freud. The library provides a revealing glimpse into the intellectual development of a seminal figure of the 20th century.
Access to the Freud Library
You can access the Freud title list of books and reprints online. Since 2011, all items in the Freud Library are also included in CLIO, the Columbia University Libraries' online catalog. Like all of our holdings, items from the Freud Library do not circulate and may be read only in the department's Geraldine McAlpin Webster Reading Room.
The Story of the Freud Library
The Freud Library came to New York in the wake of Freud's departure from Vienna after the 1938 Anschluss. Unable to take his entire library with him to London, he gave the remainder to a friend, Paul Sonnenfeld, who soon thereafter also fled Austria. Before leaving Vienna, Sonnenfeld sold the books to the antiquarian bookdealer, Heinrich Hinterberger. In July 1939 Hinterberger issued a catalog in English, offering for sale a library discreetly described as the creation of "a famous Viennese scientific explorer." When Dr. Jacob Shatzky, the librarian of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, received the catalog he deduced that the collection was Freud's. He convinced the Director of the Institute, Dr. Nolan D.C. Lewis, to purchase the library for about $500, pledging to cover the price out of his own pocket if the books turned out not to be Freud's.
When the library arrived in New York in September 1939, legend has it that the first volume Shatzky and Lewis pulled from the packing crate was the copy of Jean-Martin Charot's collected works inscribed by Charcot to his former student Freud. With funding from pioneer American psychoanalyst, Abraham Brill, the library was housed in a specially constructed Freud Room in the Psychiatric Institute Library. The Freud Library remained there until 1978, when it was transferred to Archives & Special Collections on a long-term loan basis. The Freud Library remains the property of the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Most of the rest of Freud's library can be found in his former home, now the Freud Museum, in London.
Other Freud Material at Archives & Special Collections
We also have a fifty-page manuscript fragment of Totem und Tabu (ca. 1912-13), which was donated to Columbia University in 1998. There are also 6 letters from Freud to the Russian psychoanalyst, Nikolai Ossipov, from 1921-1922. These are on long-term loan from the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, which retains ownership.