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History of the Hanns Sachs Library and Archives

From the article by Sanford Gifford, MD, Director of Archives

Isador CoriatOur first library occupied a large basement room at 82 Marlborough Street, which also served as our Institute from 1933 to 1952.  It was the proverbial smoke-filled room where all our seminars and scientific meetings were held. Isador Coriat, founder of our 2nd Society in 1928, was our first librarian, from 1937 until his death in 1943.  He bequeathed his substantial personal library to BPSI, and his books can still be recognized by his bookplate and the relevant clippings he pasted in them.
Isador Coriat (1875-1943)

1st floor libraryWhen we moved to 15 Commonwealth Avenue in 1953, to occupy the Pickering-Ames mansion, the Martin Peck Library was established in the owner’s original library, with a bronze plaque in honor of Peck, president of the BPSI in 1933.  This room, with its enormous oak table, was also used for many committee meetings and remained a ceremonial library, with the addition of the Edward and Grete Bibring Rare Book Collection in one of its bays.

A working library for candidates and faculty was created in the basement, squeezed between the grandiose oversize Men’s lavatory and the furnace-room.  It was small and cramped, with a few stacks and poorly-lit working-tables. The remodeled and enlarged present library on the 3rd floor, completed in 1969, finally provided a sunny spacious area for stacks, tables, periodicals and reference books. It was later renamed the Hanns Sachs Library, in honor of David Pokross, our great benefactor who had made annual donations to the library for many years.  The funds came from the Martin Freud Trust, who had entrusted them to Hanns Sachs in England during the 2nd World War. Pokross became heir custodian, as Sachs’s lawyer and our first legal consultant. 

Hanns Sachs (1881-1947)  David Pokross (1906-2003) Library Dedication to Hanns Sachs, 1997
Hanns SachsDavid PokrossHanns Sachs Library Dedication, 1997

The Joseph Nemetz Archive Room was added across the hall, with adjacent facilities for copying library materials by candidates and scholars.  The Archives Room contains our various holdings that include the large Ives Hendrick Archive and our substantial photograph collection, which is in demand from historians of analysis and other analytic institutes.

The Suzanne T. van Amerongen Library was established in a 2nd floor seminar room, including her personal library, augmented by special collections in Child Analysis.  The room is also used for our collection of audio- and videotapes, with equipment for playing them. After Coriat’s death in 1943, as the first elected, non-professional librarian and an officer on the Executive Council, there was a series of eminent analysts serving consecutive 3-year terms from 1943 to 1966.  They included Edward Bibring, Bernard Bandler, Leo Berman, Eveoleen Rexford, Athur F. Valenstein, Avery Weisman and John C. Nemiah. Sanford Gifford was elected as Librarian in 1966, and served, apparently unopposed, until 2000. He was succeeded by Daniel Jacobs, who became Director of the Hanns Sachs Library, and Dr. Sanford Gifford continued as Director of Archives.

Hanns Sachs library, 3rd floor reading areaThe daily operations of the library have changed over the years, with greater reliance on telephone requests for references and the use of the PEP (Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing) which provides full texts on line. Outreach activities include a Library Newsletter, Meet-the-Author receptions every few months, and movie-critiques by Dr. Jacobs and others. The archives continue to grow, with the acquisition of the records of the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center and the prospective bequest of the papers of the late John Mack.

© All photographs are the property of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute Archives