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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in three series.
This collection contains correspondence and related materials from A. A. Brill and Marion Sanger Frank. The 80 handwritten and typed letters within the collection span the years 1913 to 1945. All but three of the 80 letters are written by A. A. Brill to Marion Frank. The other three letters are from Brill's wife, Rose. The letters offer a glimpse of both the doctor-patient relationship between Brill and Frank as well as their growing friendship. These documents represent the first documented case study of psychoanalysis in the United States. In addition to the letters, the collection also contains two manuscripts by Marion Sanger Frank that describe her life and her experience with psychoanalysis. The types of records found in the collection are correspondence, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, a pamphlet, journal entries, and photographs.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Name of Collection; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Brian Shetler 7/--/2011.
Finding aid written Jennifer S. Comins and Brian Shetler 8/--/2011.
2012-02-08 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Abraham Arden (A. A.) Brill (1874-1948) was born in Austria in 1874. The son of Jewish parents, Brill left his family in 1889 at age 14. He immigrated to the United States, living in New York City when he arrived. Brill pursued his education first at New York University, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in 1901, and then at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons. He obtained his M.D. in 1903 at the age of 29. After working as an assistant physician in Long Island, New York for four years, Brill traveled to Europe to study psychiatry with neurologist Pierre Marie and psychiatrist Eugene Bleuler. Through his travels, Brill became acquainted with the work of Sigmund Freud. Following a series of correspondence between Brill and Freud, the two met in Vienna, Austria in 1908. At this meeting the two men worked out an agreement for Brill to translate Freud's work into English. Brill also worked on translating some of Carl Jung's work, beginning with "Psychology of Dementia Praecox" in 1909.
When Brill returned to New York in 1908, he began the first private practice of psychoanalysis in the United States. Less than a year later, his translation of Freud's "Selected Papers on Hysteria and Other Psychoneuroses" was published. In 1911, Brill helped found the New York Psychoanalytic Society and became its first president. He was a strong advocate for psychoanalysis at a time when the practice was often attacked and opposed. Brill promoted psychoanalysis as a subspecialty of psychiatry and strongly believed that only physicians should practice the therapy. This belief was reflected in the creation, in 1931, of the New York Psychoanalytic Institution, which was devoted to training physicians in the practice. By this time, Brill had translated and published numerous works on psychoanalysis and had traveled widely, lecturing on the practice. Through these lectures, as well as time spent teaching at Columbia University, he played a significant role in the development of psychoanalysis as a standard practice. His efforts were reflected in the creation of the American Psychiatric Association's Section on Psychoanalysis. Brill was named the first Chairman of the Section. His publication of Freud's Contribution to Psychiatry and Lectures on Psychoanalytic Psychiatry in the mid-1940s helped further move the practice into the mainstream. By the time of his death in 1948, Brill had helped develop a strong psychoanalytic movement in the United States and established New York City as the center for the movement.
Marion Sanger (1875-1960) was born in New York City in 1875. The daughter of Adolph and Sara Sanger, Marion was the second youngest in the family. Adolph L. Sanger was a prominent and influential figure in late 19th century New York. He was a successful lawyer and politician and was active in many Jewish organizations and associations. Adolph was elected President of the Board of Aldermen of New York in 1884 and served as Commissioner of Education from 1886 until 1893, when he was elected President of the Board of Education. During his time in public office, Adolph Sanger was influential in the creation of the General Grant National Memorial and stood in for Mayor William Grace to "accept" the Statue of Liberty from France in 1884. Adolph Sanger died suddenly in 1894 after losing his fortune in the Panic of 1893, when Marion Sanger was 18 years old. This left Marion parentless, as her mother had died when she was only 2 years old. From a young age, Marion was raised by her paternal grandmother and aunts as well as her father.
In 1897, when Marion was 21, she married Julius Frank of Ogdensburg, New York. Julius Frank was a lawyer and politician in Ogdensburg, a position that allowed Marion to take an active role in social and health movements of the early 20th century. After the death of her first child, Marion was urged by Dr. Brill to become involved in the Suffrage movement. Inspired by the work of Rahel Varnhagen and others, Marion became deeply involved in North Country suffrage activities. She acted as president of the Political Equality Club in Ogdensburg, and served as host to both Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt when they visited the area on speaking tours. In 1917, Marion was one of 2,500 women to march in a New York City suffrage parade. During this time, Julius Frank served as mayor of Ogdensburg (1914-1918) and used his power and influence to promote women's suffrage, including acting as chair of the Ogdensburg Men's League for Woman Suffrage. Marion continued her political activism after the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, becoming involved with the Democratic Party. Both Marion and Julius campaigned for Franklin D. Roosevelt during his 1935 campaign.
Marion and her husband had three children during the early 20th century. Their first child, a boy named Adolph after her father, was born premature and died in 1906 at the age of 8. They had a daughter, Eleanor, in 1900 and another son, Richard, in 1905. Richard, inspired by the relationship between his mother and Dr. Brill, went on to become an M.D. in the field of psychology. After living in New York City following her husband's retirement, Marion Sanger moved back to Ogdensburg to live with her daughter until her death in 1960.