THE BRITISH LIBRARY

American Collections blog

9 posts from April 2015

30 April 2015

From the Collections: US Historical Newspapers

Americansml      Federalsml      Vermontsml
Above: three of the Library's early American papers, as noted on our resource page.

This third and final blog about American newspapers will focus on the Library’s holdings of historical titles – both digital and microfilm.   

DIGITAL RESOURCES:

The Library currently subscribes to a couple of fantastic databases (listed below) which offer access to hundreds of newspaper titles from the late seventeenth to the twentieth century. Also listed is a Library of Congress resource for newspapers published between 1836 and 1922, and one that focuses upon coverage of the performing arts in the colonies:

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

This database provides fully searchable facsimiles of approximately 270 historically significant African American newspapers from more than 35 states. It offers a unique record of life in the Antebellum South, the growth of the Black church, the Jim Crow Era, the Great Migration to northern cities, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement, political and economic empowerment and more. Remote access is available for registered Reader Pass holders.

Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876

Offering more than 350,000 fully searchable facsimile issues of more 700 newspaper titles published in 23 states and Washington DC, this database provides an unparalleled record of daily life in hundreds of diverse American communities. Searches automatically extend to African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 and Caribbean Newspapers, Series I, 1718-1876. Remote access is available for registered Reader Pass holders.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

This Library of Congress resource is freely available on the Internet and offers millions of digitized newspaper pages for the period 1836–1922. Also available on this site is the U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690–present which enables users to identify both which titles exits for a specific time and place and the libraries (in the United States) that hold them. 

The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690-1783

Available both on CD-ROM in the Newsroom and on the Internet.

Microfiche

Above: non-digital resources [photo by PJH]

MICROFILM RESOURCES: GENERAL

The Library’s microfilm holdings of early American newspapers are extensive and can be found via our main catalogue, Explore. They include eighteenth and nineteenth century regional papers, such as The Boston Gazette (1719-1798), The New York Mercury (1752-1783); ethnic newspapers, including The Jewish Messenger (1857-1902) and The Irish World (1870-1950); political papers, such as Socialist Call (1935-1962); and special interest papers, such as the US Armed Forces’ Stars and Stripes (1942-1945). Please note that most of these titles can be found in the Early American Newspapers database listed above.

MICROFILM RESOURCES: THE TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE NEWS CLIPPINGS FILE

This microfilm set (shelf-mark: M.A.410) consists of 252 reels of press cuttings and other materials relating to people of colour in the United States, Africa and elsewhere which were collected by the Tuskegee Institute between 1899 and 1966. The clippings were compiled from more than 300 major American national dailies, African-American newspapers, magazines, religious and social publications and non-US newspapers. All items are listed in The Tuskegee Institute News Clippings File: Reel Notes, a hard-copy volume shelved in the Newsroom.

INDEXES

The New York Times Index, 1863-1905, is included in the database 19th Century Masterfile and a printed version of the index from 1851 is available in the Newsroom. The New York Daily Tribune Index, 1875-1906, is also included in 19th Century Masterfile and a printed version of the subject index, 1875-1881, is available in the Newsroom. 

See our other blog posts on historical newspapers:

1. Americas News Dailies and Weeklies

2. Slavery in America: newspapers and travellers' reports

[JP]

29 April 2015

Magna Carta's Americas Adventure

Us-bill-of-rights-magna-carta-british-library-law-legacy-liberty (cr Clare Kendall)

Above: The Delaware copy of the US Bill of Rights being installed in Magna Carta [photo by Clare Kendall]

Those of you who have visited the Magna Carta exhibition already will note the attention given to how the document influenced the development of global legal frameworks, perhaps most notably in the US. As a result, this document has not just had a profound effect upon the development of the UK but on the growth of many other states around the world.

Indeed, the effect of Magna Carta not just on the US but the Americas more broadly is worth noting. One of the aims of the Magna Carta was to strengthen traditional English customs against the tyranny of King John, the most notable being the right to Habeas Corpus (essentially, protection against illegal detention). The mutually beneficial relationship between Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus (which is not just legal but also rhetorical - a powerful imaginative force) was used to great effect in the protection of former slaves who had made it to England from the Caribbean in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano (portrait)

Above: frontispiece from Equiano's 'Interesting Narrative' [BL: 1489.g.50] 

One particularly famous example is recounted by Olaudah Equiano in his 'Interesting Narrative' [BL: 1489.g.50]. Here a man named John Annis is protected from the machinations of a St. Kitts trader by the granting of Habeas Corpus and, while not all received Annis' protection, the law was an important part of maintaining the freedom of those formerly enslaved who made it to London.

In Canada the Magna Carta has, perhaps, had structural legal impacts on a par with the US (without the revolution). The early governor John Graves Simcoe arrived in Canada with a strong belief in Magna Carta and the possibility of founding an ideal colony in Upper Canada. From Fort York Simcoe set up some of Canada's earliest democratic structures and also attempted to ban slavery in the colony. You can find out more about Simcoe at the British Library as we hold various manuscript papers and illustrations belonging to him and his family.

After the Seven Years War the Royal Proclamation of 1763 sought to extend Magna Carta-like protections to the First Peoples of North America. The Proclamation enfranchised right to land and secured other legal freedoms in the face of settler encroachment but also sowed dissent among colonists and was a significant contributor to the subsequent rebellion. However, the Proclamation is, arguably, still legally valid in Canada and remains an important link between many First Peoples communities and the British Crown. For many Canadians the Magna Carta is also still relevant as it directly informed the 1982 'Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms'. This, in turn, has been argued to resemble how a common law charter would look if it were drawn up today.

BL shop (Magna Carta)

Above: goodies in the BL shop - note the baseballs [photo by PJH]

For all of this the most profound global example of the influence of Magna Carta remains its role in the US. Whether it's the writings of men such as William Penn, the invocation of the Magna Carta by the Founding Fathers or the famous visit of the document to the New York World's Fair in 1939 (all of which are detailed in the exhibition), the gathering at Runnymede looms large in American history. The Eccles Centre will be hosting a discussion about the link between Magna Carta and the U.S. on 1st June and it promises to be an enlightening addition to the exhibition, which runs until 1st September. You can also see the continuing relationship between Magna Carta and the U.S. in our shop - my favourites are the Declaration of Independence baseballs...

[PJH]

28 April 2015

Lincoln's Funeral Cortege

Add.MS.41528.f.159_2[SVC2]

150 years ago, the body President Lincoln was on its journey from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, carried by train in a special funeral cortege.

Of all the Library’s Civil War related items, this object is one of the most rare and interesting. These two silk cords, or ‘silver lace’ as the accompanying descriptive note states, were part of the material that draped on President Lincoln’s funeral cortege.

According to the note that is held alongside the cords, they had been presented ‘by a gentleman who was an important member of the committee of arrangements for the reception of President Lincoln’s body’ when it reached Indianapolis, Indiana on 30 April 1865. The cortege was placed in the Indiana State House where it lay in state overnight before continuing on its journey.

Lincoln’s funeral procession from the capital to his home city of Springfield took place between 21 April and 3 May 1865. The coffin passed through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, lying in state in major cities such as Philadelphia, New York City and Chicago along the way.

The President was finally laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery where an enormous tomb was complete in 1874 to house his coffin. Lincoln’s funeral train was accompanied by members of his family, Cabinet, federal and state politicians, and seen by hundreds of thousands of mourners along the route. Countless images and details of the procession were recorded, making President Lincoln’s funeral one of the largest in American history.

Read more about this item on our Civil War feature.

[HT to @catbateson]

23 April 2015

Commemorating Conflict: Australia, New Zealand and Canada

 

Fighting-australasia-cover

Above: the cover of 'Fighting Australasia' [BL: 9081.h.9]. From the BL-Europeana learning resource.

This week sees the beginning of two distinct commemoration events for nations who supported Britain in the First World War. While last year saw a number of events to mark and reflect upon 100 years since the start of the war, for Australia, New Zealand and Canada this year marks a century since two of their most famous battles. Indeed, that description falls somewhat short as the battles in question are understood to have an enduring effect on the national identities of these countries.

For Australia and New Zealand, Saturday's ANZAC Day marks 100 years since the Gallipoli landings. While ANZAC Day now serves as a more general commemoration for those who fell in both world wars and an opportunity to reflect on all soldiers lost in conflict, it was initially intended to commemorate Gallipoli specifically. Given the enduring political and social legacy of ANZAC involvement in those landings and the continued significance of ANZAC day in general this Saturday is therefore an important moment of reflection.

Appreciation-of-assistance-rendered-to-australian-medical-corps-by-indian-ambulance-men1

Above: 'Letter of appreciation for the assistance given to the Australian Medical Corps by Indian ambulance men at Gallipoli' [BL: IOR/L/MIL/7/18921]. From the BL-Europeana learning resource.

In Canada this week has also marked a century since the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres. Perhaps less well known that Gallipoli, the battle saw Canadian forces play a significant role in stemming German attempts to break through a strategically vulnerable point on the Allied line. During over a month of action the Canadian forces showed mental strength and tactical prowess to form a central part of the effort to repulse the Central Powers, even defeating a German force at the Battle of Kitchener's Wood.

War-story-of-canadian-army-mediecal-corps2

Above: a map of the medical provisions at Ypres, one day before the battle began. Found in, 'The War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps' [BL: 9084.b.21], from the BL-Europeana learning site.

While Gallipoli is marked by tragedy and Ypres a sense of martial pride, there is a common thread in these battles that links Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Through sacrifice and success the soldiers from these dominions demonstrated an ability to 'hold their own' on the world stage. For all three nations these battles are viewed as crucial points, where a bridge between dependency and independence was irrevocably crossed. As a result, what is remembered this week is not just the fallen but what they are understood to have built.

Last year the Library took part in an international project to digitise the material history of the First World War. This material is now available online via the Europeana 1914-18 website and provides sources to analyse and research the enduring impact of this conflict. There is also a learning site, put together by the British Library Learning team that provides an introduction to many of the war's key events and consequences.

[PJH]

13 April 2015

Discovering the Northwest Passage

Gallery image

Above: a lightbox from Lines in the Ice [image by PJH]

Two things you won't find in 'Lines in the Ice: seeking the Northwest Passage' are a map showing the route of the Passage and an authoritative statement as to who, in the end, discovered this fabled path. As for the map, this is because there is no one route that can be rightly called the Northwest Passage, instead there are myriad channels scattered throughout the archipelago of northern Canada. Similarly, discerning exactly who discovered the Passage is akin to navigating a path through an archipelago of competing claims and achievements.

First things first, a rhetorical question; who do you think discovered the Northwest Passage? If you're British you probably think of Franklin himself, lost in the twilight years of his career in an attempt to fill in the last few blanks on the map of the Canadian Arctic. The evidence for what Franklin did or didn't discover is patchy but by reaching the north of King William Island Franklin did connect the exploration done in the Melville Sound with that done on the north Canadian coast (in which he too was involved). As a result, Lady Jane Franklin felt able to argue he and his crew should receive the honour. However, this is not the whole picture and, indeed, a story lies behind Lady Franklin's motivations.

Simpson and Dease (map)

Above: the work done by Simpson and Dease for the hudson's Bay Co. up until 1839 [BL: 1424.h.2]

Before we discuss this, mention must be made of an oft-forgot expedition instigated not by the Navy but by the Hudson's Bay Company. The expedition of Simpson and Dease was an attempt to fill in the blanks on Canada's north coast and it did so very differently from the Navy's standard practice; meaning they travelled overland and lightly in small teams. Thomas Simpson, cousin of the director of the Hudson’s' Bay Company, Sir George Simpson, made great strides in completing the charting of Canada's north coast and also claimed, after an expedition in 1839, to have, 'secured for our ... Company the indisputable honour of discovering the north-west passage...'. Closer analysis suggests Simpson may have been referring, peculiarly, to the completion of the western part of the passage, especially as he wished later to finally complete the survey of the Passage over land. Ultimately Simpson was denied the chance as he died in mysterious circumstances but his and Dease's work, which came so close to completing a charting of the Passage, reminds us how many endeavours were involved in the completion of this work of centuries. 

Investigator (Banks Island)

Above: HMS Investigator to the north of Banks Land, from where McClure would spot the Melville Island [BL: 10460.e.10]

Two other names of note in the final chapters of the discovery of the Northwest Passage are those of Captain Robert McClure and Dr. John Rae. McClure, at this time a Commander, was involved in the search for Franklin and ended up being the first commanding officer to complete the Passage. Having entered from the Pacific and reached Banks Island (before being frozen into the ice) McClure could see Melville Island and the site of Parry's furthest west of 1819. By travelling overland McClure linked the two points of exploration in 1851 and his expedition was the first to connect together a complete Northwest Passage. As a result, on his return home, overlooking having lost a ship and disobeyed the orders of his superior officer, McClure was given a hero's welcome and awarded £10,000 by Parliament.

Rae (map)

Above: a map from the account of Rae's 1848 and 1849 voyage. The blank area to the east of 'King William Land' would be charted as sea by Rae in 1854 [BL: 2370.e.4]

Despite the efforts of McClure and his crew, the Northwest Passage discovered in 1851 was, for all intents and purposes, useless due to the amount of ice found there each summer. An ice free route was discovered by Dr. John Rae in 1854, the same year as he discerned the fate of Franklin and his crew from the accounts of Inuit he encountered. Rae discovered that 'King William Land' was actually King William Island. Franklin had become stuck in the ice attempting to navigate the western side of this landmass but the strait discovered by Rae is frequently free of ice and was used by Amundsen during his navigation of the Passage from 1903-1906

Amundsen route

Above: the route of Amundsen's navigation between 1903 and 1906, using the areas charted by Rae, Franklin, Simpson and Dease [BL: 2352.f.4]

Both McClure and Rae's discoveries can be regarded as phenomenal achievements and each are regarded, by various historians, as being the true pioneers of the Northwest Passage. And yet, their names are less well-known than Franklin's. This is, in part, because of the political and popular agency of Lady Jane Franklin who, after McClure's award and Rae's return with a story involving death and cannibalism, sought to salvage what she could of her husband's reputation. While discrediting McClure and Rae, Lady Franklin also set about developing the popular idea that Franklin perhaps navigated the Passage first or at the very least connected together its few remaining dots through his overwintering at King William Island.

Franklin (statue)

Above: Franklin's statue in Waterloo Place [image by PJH]

Such ideas would subsequently be set down in print and memorialised in statues. Franklin's statue today stands tall in Waterloo Place, a site of memorialisation for some of the British Empire's most notable apostles and martyrs, where the accompanying plaque reads, 'They forged the last link [of the Passage] with their lives'. While the inscription does not explicitly state that Franklin and his crew discovered the passage that could instead be interpreted as a testament to the efforts of both Franklins and the many other individuals who, in these last years, navigated the archipelago and charted, 'a Northwest Passage to the sea'.

‘Lines in the Ice’ is, sadly, now in its last week. To see more items from the expeditions of Franklin, McClure and Rae, not to mention myriad rare maps and unique historical accounts, be sure to visit the Library before closing on April 19th.

[PJH]

08 April 2015

The Man Who Ate His Boots

Franklin overland camp

 Above: A winter camp during Franklin's famously hungry first expedition [BL: 10460.c.34]

When we first pitched Lines in the Ice as an exhibition idea one thing was clear from the start, this could only ever hope to be an introduction to the Library's polar and even Northwest Passage related collections. As a result all the individual stories that form the whole of the exhibition are notes in wider narratives which could be further expanded by looking deeper into the Library's collections. Even Franklin, who receives so much attention on the gallery floor and was one of the drivers for putting on the exhibition, has a larger story to tell through the Library's collections.

As the exhibition draws to a close (we've now got less than a fortnight to run) I'm thinking about Franklin again and all that the collections here can tell us about his role in the search for the Northwest Passage. As a result of his fate and the humorous sound bites about his overland expeditions Franklin is often popularly remembered as a failure. Lines in the Ice has sought to raise questions about this perspective and my recent work on our materials relating to Franklin has only affirmed my opinion that a man (and a team) of such determination and who achieved such monumental feats of endurance cannot be so easily dismissed.

Inuit boats (Franklin Second Journey)

Above: Franklin's team are approached by Inuit kayaks during his second overland voyage [BL: G.7398]

The appendices to Franklin's published accounts illustrate the fact. Not only did he and his team chart large tracts of the Arctic coast of North America while enduring some of the worst weather on record they also recorded the climate, geological observations and the flora and fauna of the areas they crossed. The result is a detailed record not just of the expedition but of the ecology and climate of northern Canada in the early nineteenth century. On top of this, other members of the expedition left behind records of the individuals and cultures they encountered on the journey, most notably in the form of Lieutenant Back's translation of voyageur songs, 'Canadian Airs'.

Sabine appendices (flower)  Sabine appendices (lichen)
Above: some of the illustrations from the zoological appendix to Franklin's first account, compiled by Joseph Sabine [BL: 569.f.16]

In the context of the first expedition all of this was achieved in the face of not only extremely bad weather but an ongoing feud between the North West and Hudson's Bay companies that all but deprived Franklin and his team of the required support. While the expedition was a disaster and this led to a high rate of death (and unsavory incidents) amongst the men the significance of factors originating outside of the expedition must be noted, as should the achievements the expedition managed to make. That men survived and produced an insightful record of the journey makes it less easy to dismiss Franklin's overland expeditions just as poorly-conceived follies. Instead, we should perhaps view them within the context of Franklin's life as a whole, one marked by distinguished service, postings around the world and an ability to survive the worst war and exploration could throw at him. At least until his later, fateful, journey.

Canadian Airs (Back)

Above: Frontispiece of 'Canadian Airs' produced from songs compiled and translated by Lieut. George Back during Franklin's first overland expedition [BL: G. 416]

With this in mind, why not pop on your boots and come to see Lines in the Ice before it closes on April 19th? You'll not only learn more about Franklin and the search for the Northwest Passage, you'll hopefully get a taste to find out more in our reading rooms too.

[PJH]

07 April 2015

Nixon and Hoover

8466362812_e7a3951b9a

President Nixon celebrating FBI Director Hoover's birthday on Air Force One with Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Mrs. Rogers, 12/31/1971 National Archives Identifier: 194400 Local Identifier: NLRN-WHPO-C8156-2 Creator(s): General Services Administration. National Archives and Records Service. Office of Presidential Libraries. Office of Presidential Papers. (01/20/1969 - ca. 12/1974) https://www.flickr.com/photos/nleomf/8466362812/sizes/l/in/photostream/ 

It was a great pleasure last month to hear Alexander Butterfield in conversation with Professor Iwan Morgan at the Library. Butterfield was a trusted member of the Nixon's inner circle since the President's inauguration in 1969. By February 1971, Butterfield was instructed to oversee the installation of the now infamous White House taping system. In 1973, he revealed its existence to the Senate Select Committee and the Watergate investigation was transformed.

Now in his late eighties Butterfield provided clear and humorous insight into life in the Nixon White House. For me, the talk reminded me of a long shadow that hung over the U.S. Executive until 1972, that of J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was brought to mind, not because he was mentioned directly, but in 1937, a Richard Milhous Nixon applied to join the FBI. From the documents available in the FBI online Records, it appears that Nixon passed all the various tests required. Nor did the extensive background checks flag up anything untoward. Nevertheless Nixon was not appointed a FBI field agent, though no explicit reason was given. However, a memorandum to Hoover, on the 18th March 1954, stated that:

“[T]he reason for the cancellation of the appointment is not reflected in the file. It may be assumed that the view of the fact that Mr Nixon was not immediately available for appointment, and based on our needs in August of 1937, that the appointment was cancelled.”

It is no coincidence that this memo was written at this juncture. By 1954 Nixon was in his second year as Vice- President in the Eisenhower administration. Indeed, from November 1946 when Nixon was elected as Representative for California, along with John F. Kennedy for Massachusetts and a Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for Wisconsin, all of the aforementioned would have received a fresh FBI file as newly elected legislators. Clearly in the subsequent years of Congressional service, Nixon and Hoover’s relationship must have developed, not least because Nixon’s anti-communist views were closely aligned to those of Joseph McCarthy’s who courted Hoover’s friendship from his arrival at the Capitol.

As McCarthy’s recklessness “threatened to the respectability of Republican anti-Communism”, Eisenhower used Nixon as a go-between in an effort to restrain the maverick Wisconsin Senator. Nevertheless, the closeness of the Nixon/Hoover relationship over the years was possibly best illustrated by Hoover’s bragging in FBI circles that he had created Nixon. This would have been reinforced in Hoover’s own mind when as President–elect Nixon met with Hoover early on at his transition headquarters in New York, promising him, 'Edgar, you are one of the few people who is to have direct access to me at all times.'

Inevitably Hoover held the whip hand in their relationship since on the two occasions when Nixon came under pressure to force Hoover to resign and summoned him to the Oval Office, he always left with his position as Director of the FBI intact. It was heart disease and not the Executive which ended J. Edger Hoover’s tenure.

Ironically, it was at that meeting in the Hotel Pierre in New York where Hoover planted the seed that would ultimately result in Nixon’s downfall.

Hoover warned Nixon, who as President-elect would attend the White House as the guest of the incumbent, then President Johnson, that he should be careful what he said, because 'Johnson had installed elaborate electronic equipment which enabled him secretly to record conversations in the Oval Office.'

On Nixon’s orders his deputy assistant Alexander Butterfield instructed the Secret Service to install recording devices in various locations around the White House, including five microphones fitted into the fabric of the Oval Office desk.

 

- Jerry Jenkins

A collection of Nixon’s recordings are freely available online: http://www.nixontapes.org/index.html

Presidential Campaign Activities of 1972, S. Res. 60. Watergate and Related Activities Phase 1: Watergate Investigation. Book 5. Accessible via the Congressional Hearings Digital Collection, 1824-1979

Morgan, Iwan, Nixon Arnold. London 2002 BL.Shelkmark : YC.2002.a.23723

Gentry, Curt, J. Edgar Hoover: the Man and the Secrets. WW. Norton: London 2001 BL Shelfmark : YA.1992.b.4224

The Watergate investigation index: Senate Select Committee hearings and reports on presidential campaign activities, compiled by Hedda Garza, Wilmington : Scholarly Resources, 1982. BL Shelfmark : X:205/1531 

Team Americas bookshelf: How much did Carl Jung learn from his trip to India? (pt II)

CGJung

Carl Gustav Jung, image from Wikipedia

[Ed: This is the final part of Matthew Neill's reaction to 'Jung in India', stay tuned for more 'Team Americas bookshelf as well as some sad Lines in the Ice news later this week]

The British Library naturally has an impressive collection of the works of Carl Jung, books about Carl Jung and his psychology, as well as more personal accounts of his life. As a Curator at the British Library responsible for Book Selection for South Asia in English, I was interested to see that a book about Jung in India had been written by Sulagna Sengupta called not unsurprisingly: Jung in India.

My own interest in Jung is both personal and professional. I am a Licenced Practitioner of Neuro-linguistic Programming and was taught personally by Richard Bandler the co-creator of Neuro-linguistic Programming. In this context, Jung has given me a richer understanding of the workings of the human mind at the level of the unconscious and conscious aspects of our reality.

Naturally I was excited by the prospect of reading Sengupta’s book, and I have in one earlier blog written about Jung’s itinerary in India, drawn from the researches of Sengupta. To be sure, Sengupta has written a book that has been meticulously researched. It is a good book. However, rather than showing us how Jung’s Indian trip fed the development of Jung’s ideas, it is in fact quite the reverse. 

What one can say is that the book has unearthed an accumulation of archival evidence that Jung made a trip to India. Sengupta does highlight Jung’s profound interest and respect for Indian spirituality. She shows, however, that India at the time, had little interest or understanding of Jung’s ideas. Jung simply failed, in general, to register upon the antennae scientific India.

It is apparent that Jung published nothing about India after his return. Most of his lectures in India, which were not understood, were recapitulations of his earlier lectures in Europe and his views on Indian spirituality were already formed and written about in his works.

Jung’s visit, made possible by the British Indian authorities rather than Indian psychologists, had virtually no effect on the development of his ideas. His ideas on India had already been formed years before by reading Indian texts. Thus, his trip was an unexpected opportunity to confirm his convictions but it produced no new writing.

What it did produce in Jung was the very clear, the view that Indian spirituality was wholly incompatible with the development Western psychology. As Sengupta suggests: “Jung did not dwell on the unpleasant aspects of his journey in his writings, [in fact, his writings on India predated his visit to India] nor did he leave a commentary on Indian psychology, Freud’s links with India, British science, or his encounters with the Indians with whom he shared contentious views. Instead he spelled out the differences between East and West in his writings and explained the differences between his psychology and Freud’s.”[i]

Jung’s view of India was thus:

‘India’s civilization and psychology resemble her temples, which represent the universe in their sculptures, including man and all his aspects and activities, whether as a saint or brute… India represents the other way of civilizing man, the way without suppression, without violence, without rationalism.’

Those mysterious truths that were so evident to Jung in Indian temple art, architecture and iconography seemed to have bypassed Western Society altogether. By contrast, Jung argued that the comparative quest for scientific and technical explanation of knowledge in Western history had achieved a separation between the conscious and unconscious faculties of the human psyche. By contrast, this had remained more integrated in the Eastern mind.

Although it is not brought out clearly enough in Sengupta’s book Jung’s trip to India didn’t alter his views, they really just added further definition to his pre-1937 views as expressed in his writings. Sengupta is unclear on this. Since all his writings concerning India were written before the trip and he wrote nothing after we could assert that the visit itself made no contribution to Jung’s ideas.

Sengupta is to be credited with the realization that:

“…the differences he felt with India sharpened his feelings about his own culture. Jung came to respect his Western scientific stance and cultural roots more after his Indian intermezzo. The tenets of his empirical work, which did not strike him as anything unique in the Western milieu where he worked, turned out to be of extraordinary importance when placed alongside the theoretical notions of Indian philosophy. In Jung’s view, the scientific and empirical mind-set of the West was inherently opposed to the intuitive and idealistic attitude of the East. The fields of Western psychology and Indian philosophy were therefore disparate, and this realization brought for Jung positive affirmation of his work and a renewed regard for his empirical values.”[ii]

Thus, Jung left india and closed the book on the East. He did not open it again before his death in 1961.



[i] Sengupta, Sulagna. Jung in India. New Orleans, Louisiana, 2013. P.271.

[ii] Sengupta, Jung in India. New Orleans, Louisiana, 2013. P. 260.

 

[M.N.]