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Trigant Burrow papers

Call Number: MS 1370

Scope and Contents

The Trigant Burrow Papers document the life and career of one of the United States' first psychoanalysts, a man best known today for his introduction of group analysis, a forerunner of group therapies and subsequent group approaches. The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, copies of published books and articles, manuscripts of published and unpublished writings, and a variety of other materials. Although the papers span the dates 1875-1984, the bulk of the material covers the years 1903-1950.

The Trigant Burrow Papers are divided into four series. Series I, MAIN CORRESPONDENCE FILE, contains correspondence concerning psychiatry and group psychoanalysis, has extensive material on the establishment and work of The Lifwynn Foundation, includes correspondence with patients and students, and has letters with family and friends. Series II, SUBSIDIARY CORRESPONDENCE FILE, includes correspondence and other materials on Burrow's group research, family business, activities, and personal affairs. The MANUSCRIPT FILE, Series III, has copies of the published works of Dr. Burrow, drafts of manuscripts, and copies of unpublished and unfinished manuscripts. Series IV, ADDITIONAL PAPERS, contains a variety of materials relating to finances, The Lifwynn Foundation, and Dr. Burrow's publications and practice.

Series I, MAIN CORRESPONDENCE FILE, fills Boxes 1-49 of the Trigant Burrow Papers. Boxes 1-44 contain correspondence arranged alphabetically by surname of correspondent and subject. Box 45 has six folders of letters written to Burrow and his longtime associate Clarence Shields on their 1925 European trip and sixteen folders of biographical and other material about Burrow. Boxes 46-49 contain correspondence with and about patients. The arrangement for Series I is consistent with the arrangement of the papers established by The Lifwynn Foundation and researchers should examine "The Trigant Burrow Papers: A User's Guide" in Box 1, folder 1 for further information about Burrow, The Lifwynn Foundation, and the papers. The Foundation staff has assisted researchers by including numerous blue cross reference sheets and by inserting additional blue sheets indicating that an item has been transferred to the restricted file.

Although most letters were written to or by Trigant Burrow, also included is correspondence to and from Burrow's closest associates, Clarence Shields and Dr. Hans C. Syz, plus lesser amounts with others like Emily Sherwood Bryan Burrow, Dr. Burrow's wife; Aimée Guggenheimer, longtime volunteer office secretary; and colleagues William Egleston Galt and Charles Baker Thompson. These letters are generally filed with the surname of the correspondent and not in the correspondence files of Shields, Syz, and the others.

Those interested in Burrow's work in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, group psychoanalysis and social psychiatry, physiological psychology, phylobiology, and more specific subjects like attention, conflict, consciousness, the social neurosis, and the "I" persona should consult the published writings of Burrow in Series III, Boxes 64-67. For a good introduction to Burrow's work, seeA Search for Man's Sanity: The Selected Letters of Trigant Burrowpublished in 1958 (Box 66, folder 1854).

Trigant Burrow carried on an extensive professional correspondence and Series I includes letters of psychiatrists and other professional colleagues, correspondence with sympathisers, letters concerning professional organizations to which he belonged, correspondence with publishers, with patients, and correspondence with students and members of his laboratory groups. The MAIN CORRESPONDENCE FILE also contains correspondence with family, friends, and acquaintances on a wide variety of personal and business subjects.

Burrow corresponded with many of the outstanding psychiatrists, social scientists, and scholars of his era and these letters are particularly useful for those interested in his studies in group analysis and phyloanalysis. Some of these individuals are Mary K. Chapin, L. Pierce Clark, Isador H. Coriat, Ethel Sturges Dummer, Thomas D. Eliot, Havelock Ellis, Paul Federn, Sigmund Freud,*Smith Ely Jelliffe, Carl G. Jung, Alfred Korzybski, John T. MacCurdy, Adolf Meyer, Clarence Paul Oberndorf, and Leo Stein. During the 1920's as Burrow concentrated on group studies of noxious social processes as observed in himself, the laboratory group, and society at large, he became more and more isolated from his profession. Burrow's correspondence in the files for theAmerican Journal of Psychiatry, American Psychoanalytic Association, Abraham Arden Brill, Jelliffe, Korzybski, Meyer, Oberndorf, and Max Rosenberg documents this process. Despite, however, his break with the mainstream of psychoanalysis, Dr. Burrow continued to have supporters both from within and without the profession, including such people as Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Frank, E. O. Haes, Karl Howenstein, Alfred Korzybski, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Bradford Malone, Robert Mayne, Herbert Read, Thomas Sancton, Herbert W. Strass, Walter S. Swisher, Kevin Wallace, and Lance L. Whyte.

For many years Burrow was active in the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Psychopathological Association. He was one of the nine founders of the American Psychoanalytic Association in 1911 and served as its president in 1925-1926. In 1932, however, the Association reorganized and individuals could only retain membership through membership in branch societies. Due to Burrow's deviation from psychoanalytic orthodoxy, he was told by A. A. Brill that there was "no likelihood" of his being accepted as a member in the close knit New York Psychoanalytic Society, thus his long association with the organization came to an end. See, for example, the files for American Psychoanalytic Association, A. A. Brill, and L. Pierce Clark. The series also contains correspondence with publishers and journal editors and has files consisting of correspondence and other materials about three major books published during his lifetime;The Social Basis of Consiousness, The Biology of Human ConflictandThe Neurosis of Man. Comments upon these and other works by scholars, students, and friends are found throughout the series.

In 1948 Dr. Burrow wrote to some 165 scientists and scholars concerning the forthcoming publication ofThe Neurosis of Man, a book describing "the technical discipline introduced by my associates and myself in our effort to establish a science of human relations—the science I have called phylobiology." He discussed his research, offered to send selected chapters to these scientists, and invited them to express their thoughts on his work. Burrow received useful and substantive comments from many scholars, including Gordon W. Allport, W. C. Allee, George Boas, John Dewey, Alfred E. Emerson, J. B. S. Haldane, C. Judson Herrick, Ralph S. Lillie, and Robert Mearns Yerkes. Transcripts of these letters were made(see Boxes 81-83, folders 2136-2142) and selected ones were published in 1953 inScience and Man's Behavior, Box 66, folder 1853.

The Trigant Burrow Papers also contain ample material documenting Dr. Burrow's pioneer work in group analysis. A great deal of correspondence can be found in Series I to and from students and professionals involved in group study, correspondence that is also useful for those interested in the dynamics of interpersonal relations, humanistic psychology, intentional communities, and sensitivity training. The letters of Bessie M. Blum, Rosalind Bruce, C. Bryant Edwards, William Egleston Galt, Aimée Guggenheimer, Flora A. Guggenheimer, Nelly Hölljes, Dr. John E. Huiskamp, Dr. Elaine Flitner Kinder, John Randolph Leigh, Dr. Hans C. Syz, and Dr. Charles Baker Thompson are particularly informative. Some of the 1920's letters of George Tucker Bispham, Pendleton Dudley, Thomas D. Eliot, Ethel M. Fritchey, Karl Howenstein, Richard D. La Garde, Helen L. Pease Leigh, Agnes C. Locke, Mary Milligan Moore, Elizabeth W. Parker, Alfreda P. Sill, Fanita M. Smithwick, and Helen A. Weber contain additional useful material. TheOffice SpecialandBaltimore Office Filein Series II andTable Notesin Series IV provide more information on these important subjects.

The Lifwynn Foundation for Laboratory Research in Analytic and Social Psychiatry was incorporated in 1927 to provide an institutional vehicle for furthering Burrow's group investigations. The correspondence of the individuals most closely involved in group work, together with the files for Baltimore attorney Harry N. Baetjer and the correspondence in theBaltimore Office Fileare especially useful to those interested in the events leading to the establishment of The Lifwynn Foundation. Foundation activities after 1927 can be followed in the files of Aimée Guggenheimer, Memoranda to Florida, Hans C. Syz, and Charles Baker Thompson in Series I andReports As Scientific Director, Box 94, in Series IV. Additional material about The Lifwynn Foundation is found in correspondence with sympathetic colleagues, students, family, and personal friends.

The Burrow Papers do not include patient case files, but the collection does contain correspondence with patients and the parents of patients. These letters document doctor-patient relations and provide insights into the character of Dr. Burrow's practice. George Tucker Bispham, Emma A. Dinsmore, Minnie E. Galt, Richard D. LaGarde, Helen L. Pease Leigh, Mary Milligan Moore, Elizabeth W. Parker, Florence Rand, Gerald Smaldone, Fanita M. Smithwick, Katharine Spalding, Ellen Thayer, Albin A. Tomlinson, and Helen Aimee Weber are prominent among the patients and parents of patients represented in Series I. Burrow's correspondence with some patients and former patients like that with Bispham, LaGarde, Moore, and Smithwick lasted more than a quarter century.

In 1915 Dr. and Mrs. Burrow purchased property on Lake Chateaugay after a visit to the camp of Alys Bentley. Lifwynn Camp was used for summer recreation and from 1923 onwards for intensive group analytic study. In 1930 the camp was designated a Lifwynn Foundation research station. Those interested in camps and recreation in the Adirondacks of upstate New York should examine the correspondence files for Rita Romilly Benson, Alys F. Bentley, Leta A. Bentley, Agathe Deming, Eleanor Deming, Ruth Doing, Gail Gardner, Florence Lee Holtzman, Marjorie E. Young Reilly, Fay Welch, and Edith C. Westcott in Series I and theLifwynn Camp Filein Series II.

In addition to professional correspondence, Series I contains a great deal of personal correspondence with family and friends. The major family correspondents are Trigant Burrow's mother, Anastasia Devereux Burrow; his wife, Emily Sherwood Bryan Burrow; children, John Devereux Burrow and Emily Sherwood Burrow Syz; in-laws, Geraldine Dickson Burrow, Helen Stapleton Burrow, and Hans Syz; cousins, Lucia Devereux Smith Nash and Blanch Pattison; and nephews and nieces, Alan G. Burrow, Inez Burrow, Devereux Burrow Conway, Mary Cuthbert Burrow Garrett, and Elizabeth Burrow Shackleford. See the Office Special, Baltimore Office File, Norfolk File, Business File, and Mrs. Burrow's Letters in Series II for additional family correspondence and papers. This material is useful for those studying family finances, kinship ties, and relations between husband and wife and father and children. For the subject of family business, see the correspondence files for Harry N. Baetjer and Richard Buckner Spindle, Jr.

Series I also includes correspondence with personal friends of the Burrows, some of whom were childhood and college friends, such individuals as Louis K. Anspacher, Terence J. Boyle, Sue de Lorenzi, Elizabeth Dickson, Paul Frost, C. Hanford Henderson, Grace Whitford Parr, Laura Spencer Portor Pope, Rosalie Thornton, and Cornelius C. Wholey. The collection also has letters relating to Burrow genealogy, correspondence with family physicians, and correspondence concerning camps, schools, and music lessons for the children. In addition, the MAIN CORRESPONDENCE FILE contains some correspondence of the family and friends of Clarence Shields, born Clarence Scheetz. There are a small number of letters of Clarence Shield's father, Oliver R. Scheetz; his step-mother, Estelle Scheetz; and brothers and sisters. Additional Clarence Shields material is found in Series IV, Box 99.

A variety of other subjects is also discussed in the correspondence in Series I. For example, in 1914 Burrow wrote a play call "The Dream Interpreter" and comments on the manuscript were penned by George P. Baker and Francis Powell. Both believed that considerable plot improvements were needed before the play could ever be staged. Biographers of Sherwood Anderson, D. H. Lawrence, and Leo Stein corresponded with Burrow, asking for information about his relationship with them. Concerning Sherwood Anderson, see the files for Sue de Lorenzi, Irving Howe, Newberry Library, and the correspondence of William L. Phillips (Box 28, folder 738) and William A. Sutton (Box 32, folder 828). For D. H. Lawrence see the files for Mary Freeman and Harry K. Wells and for Leo Stein see Crown Publishers and Fred M. Stein. Charles A. Wondolowski, Burrow's Westport, Connecticut gardener and driver, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. His letters describe his flight training and war experiences. The military careers of Reade Tilley, Jr. of Clearwater, Florida and William Egleston Galt are also discussed.

The correspondence in Series I provides documentation on the development of psychoanalysis and group work in the United States. It also has material on personal and family life. Researchers wishing to use the Trigant Burrow Papers must remember that the examples cited are illustrative, not exhaustive. They are listed to give direction to scholars on some of the major subjects covered in the papers.

Series II, SUBSIDIARY CORRESPONDENCE FILE, is housed in Boxes 50-63 of the Trigant Burrow Papers. It is divided into six alphabetically arranged subsections.

The first section, Office Special, Boxes 50-51, contains a variety of materials, most dating from the 1920s, including certificates, the copyright for "The Dream Interpreter," passports, unpublished manuscripts written by group members, and records of income and expenditures kept by students between 1925 and 1927. It also contains childhood letters written by John Devereux Burrow and Emily Sherwood Burrow Syz and the legal documents for a name change submitted by Clarence Scheetz in 1918. The Baltimore Office File, Boxes 51-53, consists of letters of students written between 1926 and 1928, primarily with Burrow and Shields. They date from the time when the initial phase of group analytic work was drawing to a close and Dr. Burrow was moving his operations to New York City. The section has extremely useful material on group analysis, the reasons for the New York move, and the difficulties some students had with laboratory work in a group setting. The Norfolk File, Boxes 53-55, concerns the property and estates of Burrow's parents, John W. and Anastasia Devereux Burrow. For further information, see also the correspondence of family and friends like Louise Collier Willcox in Series I. The Business File, Boxes 55-59, contains correspondence and other papers concerning family finances, while the Westport File, Box 59, has material relating to the purchase and upkeep of Summer Hill, the Burrows' Westport, Connecticut home from 1939 to 1950. The Lifwynn Camp File, Boxes 59-61, consists of correspondence and other papers on the upkeep and improvements for Lifwynn Camp. The most important correspondents are C. C. Bellows, Clare Merrill, and Marjorie E. Young Reilly. The section has relatively little on camp operations except in the files designated Memoranda and Personnel. These, however, provide useful information on the names of campers from 1923 to 1937, the duties they performed at camp, and on the vegetarian diet espoused by Alys Bentley at Camp Owlyout. The final section, Mrs. Burrow's Letters, Boxes 61-62, is composed of letters written to Emily Sherwood Bryan Burrow between 1902 and 1949, primarily by her husband. This correspondence is more personal in nature than that found in Series I, Boxes 5-7.

The MANUSCRIPT FILE, Series III, fills Boxes 64-92 of the Trigant Burrow Papers and is divided into five sections. Printed Works, Boxes 64-67, consists of offprints of his dissertation and some seventy articles published between 1909 and 1950. From 1911 to 1918 Burrow published sixteen articles on psychiatry and psychoanalysis, including original theoretical formulations related to early phases of human awareness. A six year publication gap ensued before "Social Images Versus Reality" appeared in 1924, an article that showed the new direction Burrow's research was taking. "The time is not far distant," he affirmed, "when the psychopathologist must awaken to his wider function of clinical sociologist and recognize his obligation to challenge the neurosis in its social as well as in its individual intrenchments." (Box 64, folder 1793) He boldly proclaimed his belief in the value of group analysis in two 1926 articles, "Die Gruppenmethode in der Psychoanalyse" and "The Laboratory Method in Psychoanalysis, Its Inception and Development." These articles together with the 1927 book The Social Basis of Consciousness marked Burrow's decisive break with mainstream psychoanalysis. The section also contains copies of the three other books Burrow wrote during his lifetime, plus copies of four posthumous works. The second section of Series III, Manuscripts of Published Works, fills Boxes 68-72 of the Burrow Papers. It consists of drafts and variant texts of published manuscripts, plus abstracts of articles, reviews, and editorials from Mental Health, a small journal edited by Charles Baker Thompson. Manuscripts of Published Works concludes with translations of Burrow's manuscripts into French, German, Italian, and Russian, unused material, and miscellaneous material concerning published writings. Published Books, Boxes 72-81, contains drafts of published and projected books. Sources for Posthumous Works fill Boxes 81-87 and includes copies of Burrow's 1948-1949 correspondence with scientists and non-scientists on The Neurosis of Man, the basis for Science and Man's Behavior published in 1953, and drafts of two other posthumous books. The final section, Unpublished Materialis housed in Boxes 87-92. It consists of copies of unpublished papers; notes for books and plays; a copy of "The Dream Interpreter," an unproduced play whose hero was a psychoanalyst; collected unpublished papers; and notes and unfinished papers.

The final series, ADDITIONAL PAPERS, has seven boxes of Table Notes, Reports As Scientific Director, Reference Files, Review and Promotion Books, and Miscellaneous papers, plus two boxes of oversize material. Table Notes, Boxes 93-94, consists of notes of group and Lifwynn Foundation meetings, often taken at the dining room table, dating from the summer of 1926 and from 1937 to 1948. Dr. Burrow's Reports As Scientific Director of The Lifwynn Foundation, Box 94, folders 2403-2422, provide a good overview of Foundation activities, trends in research, and the publications of staff members. The Reference Files, Boxes 94-95, contain alphabetically arranged citations to Burrow's work found in the publications of other scholars. Review and Promotion Books, Boxes 95-97, include announcements, lists of complimentary copies distributed, and reviews of the four books published during Burrow's lifetime and three posthumous books. The Miscellaneous section, Boxes 97-99, contains lists of appointments for patients, legal papers, business papers, and twelve folders of material from the files of Clarence Shields. The oversize material in Boxes 100-101 consists of appointment books, financial records, and six folders of certificates and diplomas.

The Burrow Papers were transferred to Yale University in September 1983 and March 1984 and were arranged, described, and preserved with a grant from The Lifwynn Foundation.


  • 1875-1984


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for 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 The Lifwynn Foundation, 1983, 1984, and 1995; and the estate of Hans Syz, 1991 and 1993.


Arranged in four series and two additions: I. Main Correspondence File. II. Subsidiary Correspondence File. III. Manuscript File. IV. Additional Papers.


42.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain correspondence, memoranda, manuscripts and other papers on the professional career and personal life of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Trigant Burrow. The papers document Burrow's group laboratory research, the activities of The Lifwynn Foundation, the research of important colleagues like Hans C. Syz and Charles Baker Thompson, and such subjects as doctor-patient and interpersonal relations. The papers include extensive family and personal correspondence, a complete set of Burrow's published writings, drafts of manuscripts, and copies of unpublished and unfinished writings. Major correspondents include Sherwood Anderson, Sigmund Freud, Carl G. Jung, Alfred Korzybski, D. H. Lawrence, Adolf Meyer, Sir Herbert Read, Clarence Shields, and Leo Stein.

Biographical / Historical

Trigant Burrow, pioneer American psychoanalyst and founder of group psychoanalysis, graduated from Fordham University in 1896. He received an M.D. from the University of Virginia in 1899 and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 1909. He studied under Carl Jung, opened analytic practice in 1910, and began group laboratory experiments in 1923. He was president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1925-1926; scientific director of The Lifwynn Foundation, 1927-1950; and the author of four books.

Guide to the Trigant Burrow Papers
Under Revision
compiled by the staff of Manuscripts and Archives
December 1995
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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