Sigmund Freud Archives

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The Sigmund Freud Archives, incorporated in the United States in 1952 by the leading analysts of that period, developed under the leadership of Dr. Kurt R. Eissler, who was the chief administrative officer until 1985. Dr. Harold P. Blum succeeded him as executive director of the archive. The other officers in 2005 were Drs. Alexander Grinstein, president; Bernard L. Pacella, secretary and treasurer; and Sidney S. Furst.

The goal of the archive is to discover, collect, and preserve all of Freud's publications, letters, and other documents and to maintain an archive of these materials. The archive also facilitates research, writing, publishing, and other activities relating to the work of Freud and other pioneers of psychoanalysis. The Sigmund Freud Collection comprises Freud's letters, publications, first editions, personal documents, photographs, movies, and other personal items. Letters and papers of Anna Freud and many other renowned psychoanalysts are in separate collections, coordinated with the Sigmund Freud Collection. The archive has a continuing contract with the Library of Congress under which the Freud Collection is protected and preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Freud Collection was almost completely derestricted as of 2005, and is accessible to all scholars upon application to the Library of Congress.

As a co-trustee, the archive is also responsible for the administration and development of the Freud Museum in London. The Freud Museum opened in July 1986 and contains a major collection of Freud's personal effects, including his extensive library, antiques, study, and consulting room. The Freud Museum displays Freud's professional and working environment, and sponsors relevant education, writing, and research.

A nonprofit organization, the archive offers all scholars equal access to all unrestricted documents. For more than a decade, the archive has steadily been derestricting documents in its control. Most of the Freud correspondence that has recently become available has been released by the archive. The goal of total derestriction was reached the year 2000, when documents under Anna Freud's will were scheduled for derestriction. Then only documents legally restricted, in writing, by the donor, will still be unavailable to scholars.

Documents are released at the Library of Congress for reading and research, but such release does not entail permission for publication. Documents are released completely unaltered and unexpurgated, with the single exception of the names of psychoanalytic patients. Patients' names are deleted to protect anonymity and confidentiality, but to facilitate scholarly research, names are available to editors of correspondence upon special application to the Sigmund Freud Archives. In such cases, the editors are bound to maintain the confidentiality of patients' identities. Everyone using the documents in the Freud Collection is obligated to abide by the rules of the Library of Congress.

Dr. Harold Blum proposed a "Freud Exhibit" to the United states Library of Congress. Developed over several years, relying mainly on the Freud Collection of the Library of Congress, it opened in 1998 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. It was the largest exhibit of the life and work of Sigmund Freud ever held. The exhibit traveled to venues in four continents, including several additional major American cities, Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv.

The Freud Archives continues to support Freud scholarship and research. Plans are under consideration to digitize the Freud collection and as many other Freud documents as possible. In 2004 the Sigmund Freud Archives constructed its own web site, which will eventually be linked to the Library of Congress. An outline of the Freud Collection and its contents can be viewed on the web site. Derestriction of the small number of still classified correspondence and interviews is proceeding, consistent with legal and ethical requirements.

Harold P. Blum

See also: Eissler, Kurt Robert; Freud Museum.