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Margaret S. Mahler papers

Call Number: MS 1138
Scope and Contents

The Margaret S. Mahler Papers contain personal and professional correspondence, subject files, writings, presentation materials, administrative files, awards, certificates, photographs, grant files, testing materials, videotapes, and film, documenting Mahler's career as a researcher and practitioner of child psychoanalysis. The papers highlight Mahler's American career beginning in 1938 until her death in 1985. Mahler's personal papers include correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs and family papers of her sister, Susanna Schoenberger, and Mahler's husband, Paul Mahler. The papers do not contain the research data or film data from Mahler's tic syndrome studies, child psychosis studies, or the separation-individuation studies. These materials are located in the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation Papers, Manuscript Group # 1139, and are currently restricted.

The Margaret S. Mahler Papers were donated to Manuscripts and Archives by Mahler in 1979 and the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation in 1983. The papers are arranged in thirteen series: I. Correspondence and Subject Files; II. Presentation Files; III. Writings; IV. Professional Associations; V. Awards and Certificates; VI. Photographs; VII. Scrapbook, Postcards and Greeting Cards; VIII. Family Papers; IX. Foundation Materials (restricted); X. Grant Files; XI. Testing Materials; XII. Videotapes and Film; XIII. Writings of Others; and Appendix A. Audiotapes and Duplicated Videotapes.

The bulk of the material dates from the 1940s through the 1970s. The first three series comprise a major portion of the collection. Whenever possible, original order of the Mahler papers was maintained.

Series I, Correspondence and Subject Files, contains routine professional correspondence and subject files which were maintained by Mahler. Correspondence between Mahler and colleagues highlights Mahler's importance in the discipline of child psychoanalysis. Mahler did not restrict her professional correspondence to members of the psychoanalytic and psychiatric communities; many of her correspondents include educators, social workers, child development theorists, and others, such as Benjamin Spock, T. Berry Brazelton, all concerned with the developmental well-being of the child. Files concerning the administration of the Masters Children's Center, where Mahler conducted her research from 1959 to 1969, are located in this series. Correspondence with editors of professional journals and publishing companies to which Mahler submitted her work may also be found in this series. Additional information regarding specific writings may be found in Series II, PRESENTATION FILES and Series III, WRITINGS.

Mahler's personal correspondence with family and friends in Europe and with colleagues who later became personal friends is also included in this series. Correspondence from Mahler's parents, sister and relatives comprise most of the documentation. This correspondence describes life in Hungary and Austria, before, during and after World War II. While in England in 1937-1938 Mahler made several attempts to secure safe passage out of Hungary for her parents, and out of Austria, where her sister was studying music. Post-war communication from Hungary was limited, and in the early 1940s, Mahler made several attempts to contact her family through the American Red Cross, the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, and the Immigration Migration Service. Mahler discovered that her father died before Nazi occupation of Sopron, and her mother was taken to a Nazi work camp where she perished. Susanna Schoenberger lived in Austria during the war and survived. Correspondence from other relatives, including members of Paul Mahler's family, describe war-time and post-war England and Australia.

This material is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or subject. The general correspondence is also arranged alphabetically within the folder. Mahler's outgoing correspondence is located at the end of this series along with her address book, calendars and diaries.

Series II, Presentation Files, contains notes, drafts of discussions, lectures and papers presented by Mahler. Supporting documentation and programs, if any, provide a context for the presentation. Mahler maintained files for specific presentations made at professional associations, conferences on psychoanalysis, as speaker to social work groups, and as lecturer to aid societies and to philanthropic organizations. The bulk of the material dates from 1946-1984 when Mahler actively presented her work in child psychoanalysis and was approached to make many presentations. Mahler's teaching files for her lectures at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute, along with materials pertaining to her work with the Infant Study Group of the Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund, which contains transcripts of discussions concerning members research, are located at the end of this series.

This material is arranged chronologically and is identified by title, sponsoring organization, and type of presentation.

Series III, Writings, contains notes, rough drafts, final drafts, preprints, reprints, manuscripts and volumes for Margaret Mahler's publications. Material is arranged chronologically within the following subseries: Articles, Reviews, Scientific Papers: Published; Articles, Reviews, Scientific Papers: Unpublished; Manuscripts: Published; Manuscripts:Unpublished; Volumes; Works-In-Progress; Bibliographies; and Oral Histories, and Memoirs.The bulk of the material dates from 1942-1983.

In 1924 Margaret Mahler began publishing articles describing her work on sedimentation rates of children at the Kinderklinic at the University of Vienna. Mahler's publications reflect her research interests at specific points in her career. Material from the 1920s and 1930s focuses on her work in pediatrics and presentation of her work with the Rorschach test. The 1940s and 1950s publications describe Mahler's work studying Gilles de la Tourette's disease, commonly known as the tic syndrome, and her developing interest in researching child psychosis. Mahler began comparative studies between control groups of normal children and psychotic children, and published her findings throughout the 1960s and 1970s in articles as well as her books On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation (1968) and The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. The latter part of her career was spent refining her articles and developing new areas of research.

Mahler's works-in-progress, and bibliographies provide a glimpse of the research avenues Mahler pursued through 1981, and the materials of other researchers she considered important to her work.

Mahler was interested in documenting her life and career and was interviewed several times. Transcripts of these interviews are located in this series. Included are copies of the transcripts for Mahler's oral history at Columbia University, a transcript of interviews with social historian Nancy Chodorow, and interviews with several colleagues for the Pioneers Panel held at the International Association for Child Psychiatry and Allied Professions conference in August 1974. In addition to these interviews, Mahler began to work on her memoirs with Harold Collins in 1969. In 1980-1981 Mahler worked with Doris Nagel to produce material pertaining to her childhood and early career. In 1984 she and Paul E. Stepansky began a collaboration which led to the publication Memoirs of Margaret S. Mahler (1988). Files containing research and background material are located in this series. In addition to the transcripts, audio tapes of these interviews have been transferred to and are available in the Historical Sound Recordings Department in Sterling Memorial Library.

Series IV, Professional Associations, contains administrative files, agendas, correspondence, convention programs, general notices, minutes, newsletters, position papers, reports and rosters for the professional associations to which Mahler belonged. The bulk of the material dates from the 1970s and is arranged alphabetically by the corporate name of the association. Additional correspondence for the associations may be found in Series I, CORRESPONDENCE AND SUBJECT FILES.

Margaret Mahler was an active member of several international, national and regional professional organizations related to psychiatry and psychoanalysis. As a member she received the general correspondence, notices and newsletters sent to all members. Administrative files maintained by Mahler as vice president of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and as president of the New York Psychoanalytic Society document the activities of the organizations during her tenure. These files contain correspondence, committee reports and minutes. Also included in this series are transcripts of the Kris Study Group of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Study group sections concentrated on discussions of research by study group members.

Series V, Awards and Certificates, contains awards presented to Mahler by various professional associations and institutions in recognition of her advances in the discipline of psychoanalysis. The awards are arranged alphabetically by granting association or institution. Medals presented to Mahler are also located in this series.

Certificates are arranged chronologically and include education, identification and membership certificates dating from 1916 to 1985. Mahler's diplomas and medical licenses, marriage certificate, and naturalization papers are located in this series.

Series VI, Photographs, largely documents the personal life of Margaret Mahler. Arranged by subjects, PHOTOGRAPHS includes portraits and candids of Mahler, her sister, her husband and friends. Included are photographs of Mahler's properties in New York City and Brookfield, Connecticut, her beagle Peppy and photographs of her travels. A large portion of the series includes photographs of the children of colleagues and children of family friends. Also included are individual photographs of colleagues and friends. A limited number of photographs pertain to professional conferences which Mahler attended. This series includes both black and white as well as color photographs. Negatives, slides and transparencies are located at the end of this series.

Series VII, Scrapbook, Postcards, Greeting Cards, contains scrapbook materials maintained by Mahler from 1941-1977. Scrapbook material contains correspondence from Anna Freud, Ernst Kris, Mary O'Neil Hawkins, Willi Hoffer, Benjamin Spock, and LeRoy M. A. Maeder, among others. Newspapers clippings and conference programs comprise the remainder of the scrapbook material. Copies of this correspondence are found in Series I, CORRESPONDENCE AND SUBJECT FILES. Margaret Mahler collected postcards to document the majority of her travels. These are arranged alphabetically by geographical location. Greeting cards contain get-well cards, holiday cards, sympathy cards, and all occasion cards from 1938-1985. Cards are arranged by type, then chronologically.

Series VIII, Family Papers, is divided into the following four subseries: Paul Mahler, Susanna Schoenberger, Memorabilia, and Photographs. Paul Mahler was a chemist who managed a family cordial factory in Hungary before World War II and then held several positions in the United States, working for Geigy Corporation upon his death in 1956. Material includes correspondence, legal and financial records, passports, Mahler's grade book and Ph.d. dissertation, as well as photographs of his family and friends. Material is arranged alphabetically by type of material. Susanna Schoenberger material includes certificates and diplomas, correspondence, passports and receipts which document her life as a musician in Austria and her relationship with her sister. Also included in Schoenberger's material is a copy of a paper delivered by her father Dr. Gusztav Schoenberger and inscribed to Susanna Schoenberger. Memorabilia consists of Mahler's stationary and prescription pads, conference badges, and membership cards along with some artwork Mahler kept. Photographs contain prints of Paul Mahler's family.

Series IX, Foundation Materials, includes correspondence, subject files, administrative and financial records, and photographs pertaining to the work of the Mahler Foundation and the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Fund.

Series X, Grant Files, contains applications, correspondence, draft and final summary reports and progress reports for grants submitted by Mahler and her co-workers. General files maintained by Mahler to support the drafting of proposals and reports are also included in this series. The material dates from 1955 through 1969. Most of the material documents the two grants "Symbiotic Child Psychosis: Relation to Personality Development," and Mahler's NIMH "Study of Normal Separation-Individuation." Files are arranged chronologically by project.

Series XI, Testing Materials, contains standard test materials including the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities, the Rorschach Test cards, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, and the Weschler-Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). In addition, Mahler kept the text and cards of two German tests: Hans Zulliger's "Behn-Rorschach Test" and "Der Z Test." Manuals as well as actual testing devices are included in this series.

Series XII, Videotapes and Films, contains visual materials documenting Mahler's career. Videotapes are divided into three sections: Lectures, Oral History, and Study Materials. The lectures contain material Mahler presented at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in 1977 and at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center in 1979. The oral history section includes three interviews between 1970 and 1980. Interviewers include _________ Langford, Raquel Berman and Eleanor Galenson. Study material includes condensed versions of the research film from Mahler's Masters Children's Center studies. Films consists of 16mm film taken at Arden House, a settlement house complex in 1954. Film includes Mahler with children and Mahler with Edith Jacobson, director of Arden House.

Series XIII, Writings of Others, contains manuscripts, copies of manuscripts, preprints, and reprints sent by the authors to Mahler for critique or as a collegial courtesy. The writings in this series have been annotated by Margaret Mahler. Similar material which was not annotated by Mahler has been weeded from the papers. The material is arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author.

Appendix A, Audiotapes, lists audiotapes transferred from the Mahler papers to the Historical Sound Recordings department, Sterling Memorial Library, and has not been encoded. Appointments must be made through Manuscripts and Archives to listen to this material in Historical Sound Recordings. The audiotapes are divided into six sections: Foundation Material, Oral History, Presentations, Study Material, Personal, and Unidentified tapes. The Foundation material includes tapes of the Board and Executive Committee meetings of 1980-1981, as well as a copy of the Brochure Committee meeting of 1978 for the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation. Oral History tapes include the Milton Senn interview of 1977, the Evelyn Ringold interview for the Columbia Oral History Project in 1977, the Raquel Berman interview of 1979, interviews with Doris Nagel in 1980-1981 which provided much of the background for Mahler's Memoirs, and interviews with Selma Kramer, Darlene Levy, and Peter Neubauer in 1981-1982. Tapes of the "Pioneers Panel" at the International Association for Child Psychiatry and Allied Professions in 1974, the "Meet the Author Panel" at the 1977 American Psychoanalytic Association and a tape of Mahler discussing "Infantile Psychosis" complete the Presentations section. Study Material is comprised of a tape of Mahler discussing her work "Introduction to Anna and Susan." Included in the Personal section is a tape documenting Mahler's 80th birthday party. There are three unidentified tapes in this series.

Conditions Governing Access

Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy, which is retained by the repository. Researchers wishing to obtain an additional copy for their personal use should consult Copying Services information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Margaret S. Mahler has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Margaret S. Mahler, 1979, the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation, 1983, 1987, 1988, and Dr. Fred Pine, 1997.


Arranged in thirteen series with one appendix: I. Correspondence and Subject Files, 1918-1985. II. Presentation Files, 1930-1984. III. Writings, 1924-1984. IV. Professional Associations, 1950-1984. V. Awards and Certificates, 1916-1985. VI. Photographs, 1890s-1985. VII. Scrapbook, Postcards, Greeting Cards, 1941-1985. VIII. Family Papers, 1822-1985. IX. Foundation Materials, 1972-1985. X. Grant Files, 1959-1977. XI. Testing Materials, 1926-1963. XII. Videotape and Film, 1960-1977. XIII. Writings of Others, 1944-1985. Appendix A: Audiotapes, 1974-1981.

85.75 Linear Feet (193 boxes)
Related Names
Mahler, Margaret S.
Language of Materials