Scope and Contents
The papers document the research, writing, teaching, and personal life of cultural historian Peter J. Gay. The papers consist of research and teaching files, writings, correspondence, photographs and slides, and personal papers. An extensive part of his research files is the work he completed on Sigmund Freud while writing Sigmund Freud: A Life for Our Time (1998). His teaching files are mainly lecture drafts and also include outlines and notes. His research files are organized both by topic area or writing project; his teaching files are exclusively by topic area.
Gay's writing files contain more of his later articles, book manuscripts, and lectures than his earlier works. Of the books he wrote, only three of them are documented in detail in the papers: My German Question (1998), Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (2007), and Why the Romantics Matter (2015). Writings on Freud in the papers are limited to a handful of articles and lectures and include drafts of an unpublished Encyclopedia Britannica article.
Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature. Correspondents include members of Gay's family, friends, researchers and academics, archivists and librarians at institutions Gay was planning on visiting, publishers, and university and/or conference staff extending invitations to Gay to speak. Most of the photographs in the papers are personal in nature, with subjects being Gay's family or monuments and buildings from vacations. Some photographs from professional event are also present.
Personal papers include a mixture of professional records not related to teaching, research, or writing, and include minutes from professional association meetings and business directories, as well as personal records, such as financial documents and notebooks used as journals. A significant amount of the personal papers also includes newspaper clippings and print outs of interviews with Gay and reviews of his works. Materials date from 1865 to 2015.
- 1845 - 2015
Language of Materials
The materials are in English, German, French, Portuguese, Czech, and Croatian.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
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 of non-commercially produced items for their personal use should consult the ordering reproductions information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright is retained by the Executor of the Peter J. Gay Estate for unpublished works authored or otherwise produced by Peter J. Gay. After the lifetime of the Executor or August 19, 2035, whichever comes first, copyright passes to Yale University. 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 Estate of Peter J. Gay, 2015.
The papers are arranged in five series: I. Research and teaching files, 1865-2015. II. Writings, 1938-2015. III. Correspondence, 1960-2015. IV. Photographs and slides, 1891-2015. V. Personal papers, 1950-2008.
15.5 Linear Feet (41 boxes)
The papers document the research, writings, teaching, and personal life of cultural historian Peter J. Gay. The papers consist of research and teaching files, writings, correspondence, photographs and slides, and personal papers. An extensive part of his research files is the work he completed on Sigmund Freud while writing Sigmund Freud: A Life for Our Time (1998). Gay's writing files contain more of his later articles, book manuscripts, and lectures than his earlier works and include drafts of three of his books: My German Question (1998), Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (2007), and Why the Romantics Matter (2015). Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature, with correspondents including his family, academic colleagues, and library and archives staff. Most of the photographs in the papers are personal in nature and subjects include Gay's family and monuments and buildings. Personal papers include a mixture of professional records not related to teaching, research, or writings, as well as personal records, such as financial documents and journals. Newspaper clippings and print outs of interviews with Gay and reviews of his works comprise a significant amount of the personal papers. Materials date from 1865 to 2015.
Biographical / Historical
Peter Gay was born Peter Joachim Fröhlich on June 20, 1923 in Berlin, Germany. His father, Moritz, owned a glassware business. The Fröhlich family was of Jewish ancestry and lived in Germany during the early years of the Nazi regime. By 1938, Moritz lost the glassware business and Peter was no longer allowed to attend school. In 1939, the family received visas to emigrate to Cuba and they were on the last ship from Nazi Germany allowed into Havana. They moved to the United States in 1941 and changed their last name to Gay, an English translation of Fröhlich, for ease of pronunciation by Americans. Gay attended the University of Denver and graduated in 1946. He earned his master's degree in history in 1947 and a doctorate in political science in 1951, both from Columbia University. Gay taught political science at Columbia from 1947 until 1956, when he switched to the history department. He joined the Yale University history faculty in 1969 and remained at Yale until his retirement in 1993.
While his original academic work focused on labor history and socialist history in political science, Gay transitioned into cultural history scholarship and became renowned for his work on the Enlightenment and 20th century European thought. His texts on Enlightenment figures include Voltaire's Politics (1959) and the two volume The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (1966, 1969). The first volume, subtitled The Rise of Modern Paganism won the National Book Award for History and Biography in 1967. Gay subsequently studied Freud and psychoanalysis, including undergoing psychoanalysis and training as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. This produced several works including the biography Sigmund Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988). After his retirement, he continued to research and write books, including Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (2007) and Why the Romantics Matter (2015). Other works include his memoir My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin (1998).
Gay married sociologist Ruth Slotkin in 1959. They raised three daughters from his wife's previous marriage and Gay had seven step-grandchildren. Peter Gay died on May 12, 2015 in New York, New York.
Biographical information is drawn from Richard J. Evans, "Peter Gay Obituary," The Guardian, May 24, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/24/peter-gay and William Grimes, "Peter Gay, Historian Who Explored Social History of Ideas, Dies at 91," New York Times, May 12, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/13/arts/peter-gay-historian-who-explored-social-history-of-ideas-dies-at-91.html?_r=0
Processing staff attempted to preserve the original order of the papers and to reuse folder titles Gay assigned to his files. However, much of the book manuscript materials were in no discernible order and intermixed with other manuscripts. As a result, the archivist arranged and housed the manuscripts by book and then book chapter or section when possible; if not possible, manuscripts were arranged chronologically.
- Guide to the Peter J. Gay Papers
- In Progress
- compiled by Christy Tomecek, Nia Jones, and Lucy Western
- May 2017
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
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