Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Albert Ellis papers, 1920-2007, bulk 1965-1997

Summary Information


This collection encompasses the professional and personal life of psychologist and pioneer of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Albert Ellis.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1550
Bib ID 8683406 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Ellis, Albert, 1913-2007
Title Albert Ellis papers, 1920-2007, bulk 1965-1997
Physical Description 218 linear feet (215 record cartons 1 document box 6 oversize document boxes)
Language(s) English , Hebrew , German .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Some unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are (available online / available onsite) via links in the container list. Commercial materials are not routinely digitized. Email rbml@columbia.edu for more information.



This collection is arranged in 6 series.



This collection consists of materials related to Albert Ellis's long career as a psychologist, sexologist, and pioneer of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Records consist of correspondence, publications, photographs, notebooks, notecards, reel to reel audio tapes, audio cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and Dictaphone tapes.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1947-2006

    This series is arranged chronologically, with an index of names and organizations that appear on a frequent basis. Common themes found within this series consist of: editors from various publishers working with Ellis in regard to either his forthcoming books, or forthcoming books written by others. Ellis frequently collaborated on publications (books and journal articles) with other psychologists, as well as those not associated with the psychological field, with regard to RET practices and/or sexually related topics. Individuals contacting Ellis for advice, individuals with comment or questions regarding one of the books or articles he wrote, and individuals seeking information on REBT workshops figure prominently throughout all years encompassed. Much of the correspondence is from faculty of Psychology or Psychiatry departments at various universities. Many are from individuals requesting Ellis's assistance in getting their book/article published. There are memoranda between individuals at the Albert Ellis Institute. Ellis's itineraries and schedules, letters from various psychologists running RET institutes in other locales, both nationally and internationally, and requests for Ellis to speak at conferences, workshops, and symposia are consistent throughout this series. A variety of holiday, birthday, and get well cards can be found as well.

  • Series II: Library and Research Files, 1931-2007

    This series is comprised of manuscripts, articles, news clippings, and papers created by Ellis for the Albert Ellis Institute for Rational Living. Manuscripts are divided into fiction and non-fiction and are arranged alphabetically. Many of the manuscripts are unpublished and some include annotations by friends and publishers. Articles, drafts, and notes written by Ellis are abundant. In addition, newspaper clippings and articles that Ellis annotated and categorized can be found in this series. Articles, papers, theses, and dissertations written by others are included at the end of this series.

  • Series III: Notebooks, 1933-1963

    This series consists of materials found held within loose-leaf notebooks, titled by Ellis. These notes are arranged alphabetically by subject, including topics on marriage, love, sex, psychology, psychotherapy, music, poems and book reviews. General notes include tests, picture vocabulary cards and handwritten notes on books and article titles, psychology topics, and suggested talks and workshops. Untitled notes are related to the alphabetically arranged notes and appear to be out of original order. These notes include typed with handwritten subject terms assigned by Ellis written on them. Refer to Box 50, folder 5 for lists of term abbreviations and definitions.

  • Series IV: Notecards, Undated

    This series contains three types of notecards. They have been divided into three sets, the first being notes in point form on REBT, and its application to different topics, which he referred to when giving various lectures, workshops, trainings, and seminars. The second set consists of the name, publisher, year, place of publication, details of books and authors Ellis used to put together the reference index sections of his books and articles. The third set consists of names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of people he would contact, including doctors and people who contacted him on a frequent basis.

  • Series V: Audio Visual Material, 1953-2007

    This series comprises all audio and visual materials held in the collection. These materials consist of reel to reel audio tapes, audio cassettes, Dictaphone tapes, and VHS tapes.

  • Series VI: Photographs, 1920-2004

    These materials are arranged chronologically. Included are photographs of Dr. Ellis's talks and workshops around the world, in his study, and portraits by various studios. A variety of casual shots, both alone and with others, can also be found.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Some unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are (available online / available onsite) via links in the container list. Commercial materials are not routinely digitized. Email rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Albert Ellis Papers; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.


No additional material expected

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Debbie Joffe Ellis. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--2010.

Source of acquisition--Albert Ellis Institute. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--2010.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Jennifer S. Comins, Grace Smith, Pratt Institute, MLIS '11, Helen Kwong, Pratt Institute, MLIS '11, Rebecca Baugnon, Pratt Institute, MLIS '11, Victoria Ludas Orlofsky, Pratt Institute, MLIS '12, Brian Shetler, Simmons College, MLIS '12 06/2012.

Finding Aid written Jennifer S. Comins 06/2012.

Revision Description

2012-06-26 xml document instance created by Jennifer S. Comins

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American Academy of Psychotherapists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American Association of Marriage Counselors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American Psychological Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ard, Ben N. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Barricade Books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Barron, Jules Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Beck, Aaron T. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Behavior therapy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Blame Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Branden, Barbara Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Branden, Nathaniel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carol Publishing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ciardi, John, 1916-1986 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clark, LeMon, 1897- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cognitive therapy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Corsini, Raymond J. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Crawford, Ted Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
DiGiuseppe, Raymond Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dryden, Windy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ellis, Albert, 1913-2007 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gebhard, Paul H. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Geis, H. Jon Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gillette, Paul J. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Grieger, Russell Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gullo, John M (John Marshall) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Guze, Henry Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harper, Robert A., 1915-2004 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hauck, Paul Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hawthorn Books, Inc. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Institute for Sex Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Joffe-Ellis, Debbie, 1956- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kinsey, Alfred C (Alfred Charles), 1894-1956 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lazarus, Arnold A. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Legman, G (Gershon), 1917-1999 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Marital psychotherapy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Marriage Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Marriage counseling Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Maultsby, Maxie C. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
May, Rollo Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Meehl, Paul E (Paul Everett), 1920-2003 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Montagu, Ashley, 1905-1999 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Objectivism (Philosophy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Physician and patient Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pillay, A. P (Alyappin Padmanabbha), 1890-1956 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pomeroy, Wardell B (Wardell Baxter), 1913-2001 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Powers, Melvin, 1922- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Psychology Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Psychotherapy -- Methodology Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rand, Ayn Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rational emotive behavior therapy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rogers, Carl R (Carl Ransom), 1902-1987 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sagarin, Edward, 1913-1986 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Science & Behavior Books (Firm) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sexology -- Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Spectorsky, A. C (Auguste C.), 1910-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stuart, Carol Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stuart, Lyle Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Twayne Publishers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Vernon, Ann Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Weinrach, Stephen G Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wolfe, Janet L Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Albert Ellis was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 27, 1913 to Hettie and Henry Oscar Ellis. He was the eldest son, with a brother, Paul, and sister Janet. Not long after Ellis was born, his family moved to New York City, where he was raised. When Ellis was 12 years old, his parents divorced. As a child, he also suffered from kidney disorder. He became a voracious reader, focusing on philosophy, and used many of these philosophic teachings to train himself to tackle his shyness and overall anxiety about a variety of undertakings in life.

Ellis wanted to be a writer, more specifically a novelist. Between the ages of 19-28, he sent multiple book-length manuscripts out for publication. After continuous rejection, he decided to attempt non-fiction instead. He began to write about sex and many of his friends and family sought his advice. He enjoyed counseling and decided to become a professional therapist. He obtained his bachelor's degree in business administration from the City College of New York in 1934, and M.A. (1943), and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Columbia University in 1947.

During the 1940s, Ellis taught at Rutgers and New York University. He also acted as senior clinical psychologist at the New Jersey Mental Hygiene Clinic, served as Chief Psychologist of the New Jersey State Diagnostic Center and at the New Jersey Department of Institutions and Agencies. In addition, he acted as consultant in clinical psychology to the New York City Board of Education and to the Veterans Administration.

Ellis originated Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in 1955 as a cognitive behavioral system of psychotherapy. REBT teaches clients to use cognitive, emotive, and behavioral methods to counter their self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors. During the 1960s and 1970s, similar forms of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) were developed, many of which drew on REBT.

In 1957, Ellis published his first book on REBT, How to Live with a Neurotic. He went on to publish 54 books and hundreds of articles. He founded and organized the Institute for Rational Living (Albert Ellis Institute) in 1959, in Manhattan where it is still operating presently. He gave Friday Night Workshops, which demonstrated REBT methodology in a public forum, at the Institute for over 30 years. Ellis served as President Emeritus of the Institute until his death on July 24, 2007. Ellis is survived by his wife, Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis, who continues his legacy by advocating for REBT through presentations, articles, and counseling.

Ellis served as President and fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division of Consulting Psychology. He was a president, of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, and was a fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Applied Anthropology. He was a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology of the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis, of the Clinical Hypnosis of the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis, of the American Board of Medical Psychotherapists, and of the American Board of Sexology. Ellis has been President of the Advisory Council of Distinguished Humanists, has served as Vice-President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists, as Chairman of the Marriage Counseling Section of the National Council of Family Relations, and as Executive Committee Member of the Divisions of Psychotherapy and of Humanistic Psychology of the American Psychological Association, and of the New York Society of Clinical Psychologists.

Ellis has served as Consulting or Associate Editor of the following journals: • Journal of Marital and Family TherapyThe International Journal of SexologyExistential PsychiatryThe Journal of Individual PsychologyThe Journal of Contemporary PsychotherapyJournal of Sex, ResearchVoices: the Art and Science of PsychotherapyCognitive Therapy and ResearchPsychological ReportsJournal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive Behavior TherapyJournal of Child and Adolescent PsychotherapyPsychotherapy in Private PracticeJournal of Psychology and Human SexualityInternational Journal of Eclectic and Integrative Psychotherapy