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   Albert Ellis Papers, 1920-2007 [Bulk Dates: 1965-1997].

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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.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

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 Dates: 1965-1997].
Physical description:218 linear ft. (215 record cartons, 1 document box 6 oversize document boxes)
Language(s): Collection is primarily in English, German and Hebrew indicated at folder level.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions. If you would like to use audiovisual materials in Series V, please contact the library to discuss access options as most of these materials have not been reformatted and are not readily available for use.  More information »



This collection is arranged in VI series

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Scope and Content

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.

Subseries V.1: Audio cassettes, 1966-2007

Audio Cassettes, 1966-2007. Subseries V.1, Audio Cassettes consist of Albert Ellis’s historic Friday night workshops figure, along with lectures, symposia, and patient sessions. Friday Night Workshops figure prominently. The desciptions for each cassette are transcibed exactly from the tape itself, or accompanying notes. These transciptions include Ellis's own system of abbreviations and acronyms.

Subseries V.2: Reel to Reel Audio, 1953-1975

Subseries V.2, Reel to Reel Audio include session recordings of individuals and groups, talks, presentations, lectures, and interviews on radio and television programs, including several by Mike Wallace. Panels and workshops, conventions, Cooper Union Forums, volumes of the American Association of Psychologists Tape Library, of the Institute for Rational Living Tape Library figure prominently. The desciptions for each reel to reel are transcibed exactly from the tape itself, or accompanying notes. These transciptions include Ellis's own system of abbreviations and acronyms.

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.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

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

This collection has no restrictions.

If you would like to use audiovisual materials in Series V, please contact the library to discuss access options as most of these materials have not been reformatted and are not readily available for use.

Restrictions on Use

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.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed 06/2012 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.

Finding Aid written 06/2012 Jennifer S. Comins

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 26, 2012 Finding aid written in English.
    2012-06-26 xml document instance created by Jennifer S. Comins

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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.


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

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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 Therapy The International Journal of Sexology Existential Psychiatry The Journal of Individual Psychology The Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy Journal of Sex, Research Voices: the Art and Science of Psychotherapy Cognitive Therapy and Research Psychological Reports Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive Behavior Therapy Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Psychotherapy in Private Practice Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality International Journal of Eclectic and Integrative Psychotherapy

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