Scope and arrangement
The papers (1929-1980) reflect Fromm's career as author, psychoanalyst, scholar, educator and social philosopher mainly from the year 1932 until 1949, except for a hiatus for the years 1944-46 for which there are no papers other than a few miscellaneous financial papers. A few miscellaneous papers date back to 1929. For most of the period Fromm's life was centered in New York City. The papers provide substantial documentation of his academic associations and activities, his writings and his research at the International Institute for Social Research and to a lesser extent at Sarah Lawrence College; his theoretical contributions to the fields of psychology, sociology, social psychology, and psychoanalysis; and his relationships with notable American scholars who were influenced by his work including the sociologists Robert S. Lynd, Helen Lynd and David Riesman, and the anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ashley Montagu. His career as a practicing psychoanalyst is also documented, but as noted above the papers which involve the privacy and confidentiality of the therapist-patient relationship have been removed and sealed until the year 2049. His earlier career in Europe is touched upon by a smattering of papers relating to his university lectureships in Germany and to his sojourn in Switzerland in the summer and fall of 1932. There is relatively little documentation of his social and personal life outside of his career activities. The papers also reflect to some extent the plight of European Jews several of whom sought Fromm's aid in emigrating from Germany, France and Poland just before the outbreak of World War II. In sum the papers represent an indispensable source for scholars and others seeking to deepen their knowledge of Fromm, his life in America, and the impact of his ideas upon the social sciences.
The Erich Fromm papers are arranged in eight series:
The correspondence reflects mainly the period when Fromm was residing in New York and in Bennington, Vermont. His correspondents include professional and academic colleagues, psychologists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists, sociologists, university professors, physicians, editors of scholarly journals, publishers, refugees, refugee aid organizations, graduate students and others. There is some family correspondence filed under "Fromm Family". The correspondents are scattered in many countries including Bolivia, China, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, Soviet Union, Switzerland and Turkey. The correspondence relates to a variety of subjects from mundane matters of Fromm's personal life to his professional, scholarly, and academic interests, associations and relationships. Included is correspondence relating to the International Institute for Social Research, his books Escape from Freedom and Man for Himself, his scholarly articles and book reviews, matters of psychoanalytic theory and its implications for cultural analysis, the status of non-medical psychoanalysts, speaking engagements, conferences and seminars. Notable correspondents include Angelica Balabanoff, John Dollard, Max Horkheimer, Ernst Jones, Harold D. Lasswell, Paul Lazarsfeld, Helen Lynd, Robert Staughton Lynd, Margaret Mead, Ashley Montagu, Robert Redfield, Wilhelm Reich, David Riesman, Harry Stack Sullivan, and Carl August Wittfogel.
The Paul Lazarsfeld file contains textual criticisms by Lazarsfeld of Autorität in der Familie which Fromm was preparing for publication. Included in the Robert S. Lynd file is a letter by Fromm in which he inadvertently hits upon the title for his book Escape from Freedom. Included in the Margaret Mead file are two autograph letters written by her while she was en route to Bali and in which she announces her marriage to Gregory Bateson and mentions her colleagues Geoffrey Gorer and Helen Lynd. The correspondence also reveals her debt to Fromm for the concept of surplus in primitive societies. Included also are her notes on character formation which she submitted to Fromm for his comments. The Ashley Montagu file relates to Montagu's search for a university appointment in anthropology and to a proposed popular edition of Freud's writings. The Wilhelm Reich file relates in part to the methodology of mass psychology and to the use of psychology in sociology. The correspondence which is in German is addressed to Fromm at Davos and Lausanne, Switzerland. Included is a copy of a letter to Freud from Max Horkheimer requesting his advice on a replacement for Fromm who was too ill to continue his work at the Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt). The David Riesman file relates in part to Riesman's sociological research, his need to gain experience in interviewing techniques, and to his acceptance of a position as director of research for the Committee on National Policy at Yale. Included is a copy (1941) of a paper which Riesman gave at the Roundtable on Public Opinion and Propaganda of the American Political Science Association. The Carl A. Wittfogel file contains a lengthy letter (1936) from Wittfogel at Peking, China where he was conducting research on the Chinese family. Wittfogel acknowledges Fromm's influence on his own work. Fromm's reply contains a critique of Freud's theory of sublimation.
The correspondence relating to refugees is contained mainly in the files of Heinz Eduard Brandt, Peter Gluck, and Kurt Wertheim. The Brandt file concerns a cousin of Fromm's who sought to emigrate from Germany and to the plight of Mrs. Gertrude Brandt, in Posnan, Poland. The Gluck and Wertheim files relate to persons residing in France and Germany, respectively, who also sought Fromm's help in coming to the United States.
Included in the Fromm family correspondence is correspondence of Joseph Gurland, Fromm's brother-in-law relating to his search for employment as a chemical engineer.
Other noteworthy correspondence includes the Elizabeth G. Brown file which contains comments by Brown written from Moscow on the Purge Trials and her reflections on Soviet society; The Family (periodical) which contains a review by Fromm of Margaret Mead's Sex and Temperament... and correspondence relating to Autorität in der Familie as well as a review of it by Otto Fenichel; and the file Psychiatry (a quarterly published by the William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation) which includes a copy of an address by Fromm given at a memorial meeting (1940) for Harry Stack Sullivan, and copy of his review of Sullivan's Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry.
This series consisting of two subseries contains manuscripts and collateral papers relating to Die Autorität in der Familie (subseries "A"); and The German Workers under the Weimar Republic (subseries "B"), two studies which Fromm was preparing for publication during the time of his employment at the International Institute for Social Research.
This series consists of a subject file of research notes made by Fromm; and papers which he collected relating to a study on authority and on the family, in which he participated at Sarah Lawrence College. The research notes which are arranged by subject and which are mainly handwritten include notes on authoritarian character, character and society, conscience, ethics, family, masochism, nazism, radio, readings, the Sabbath, and sadomasochistic character. Included is one folder of miscellaneous and fragmented notes. The Sarah Lawrence College research papers relate to an experimental study on authority utilizing freshmen students in psychology; the study was conducted by Fromm and members of the college faculty including W. Fisher, E. Lerner, and Lois B. Murphy. Included are papers relating to the courses "Introduction to Psychology" and "Personality and Social Behavior" consisting of typed transcript copies of students' reports of field trips, daily activities, books read, responses to personal questionnaires, and records of free association tests. Included are instructors' evaluations of students' performance and personality. The students are anonymous (identified by code name). There are also papers relating to a study of the family, consisting of a report (ca. 1932) by an interviewer recording the results of his interview of members of an unidentified family of six who were on relief; a few completed questionnaires recording reactions to changes in relief by anonymous respondents the Frankford, Kensington and Schuylkill districts of New York; and minutes (1934) of a roundtable meeting conducted by Fromm at Washington, D. C. at which he reported on the results of the study.
Included are papers (1929-1932) relating to Fromm's lectureship at the University of Frankfurt; leases (1935-1937); list and roster (1942,1946) of his students at the New School for Social Research; notes of meetings (1942) of the Psychology of Faith Group in which Fromm participated; papers (1946) of the Advisory Panel on Research in Human Relations, (U. S. Department of the Navy) on which Fromm served; pocket memo books (1947); Fromm's seminar notes and bibliography (1947) at William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry. Included also are two photographic portraits of unidentified persons; printed ephemera; and a photocopy of a case record (undated) of an unidentified patient of Fromm's from which personal names and other identifying information have been deleted (the original record is filed in Series 7. Restricted Papers).
The financial papers consist of bank deposit and debit slips, bank statements, bank loan records, bills and receipts, records of cable transfers, income tax papers, cancelled checks, check stubs, and miscellany.
The restricted papers which are sealed until the year 2049 consist of case records relating to Fromm's professional practice as psychoanalyst; and papers relating to studies on authority and on the family, in which Fromm participated at Sarah Lawrence College. The case records consist of Fromm's correspondence (1934-1943, 1947-1949), arranged alphabetically, with his patients, with persons seeking therapy, and with physicians and others regarding his patients. Included are extensive records of dreams of several of his patients, recorded by them and sent to Fromm for his interpretation. There is also a lengthy record of a psychoanalytic examination of a male patient; a case record in shorthand; and a few records (1938, 1949) of fees received.
These additional papers, which were received in 1997 after the completion of the microfilming of the Fromm Papers, consist of correspondence (1965-1978; 1980) between Erich Fromm and his friend, Karl D. Darmstadter. Included are some fifty letters (mainly typed) by Fromm containing his comments and reflections on a variety of topics including East-West relations, the Soviet Union, the dangers of nuclear war, Vietnam, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Judaism, Zionism, his books (To Be and to Have and The Origin of Human Destructiveness) and other matters. Included are several typed carbon copies of replies by Darmstadter.