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The Freud Archives

In response to:

The Freud Archives from the March 31, 1983 issue

This letter concerns the correspondence, published in the issues of February 3 and March 31, over access to papers placed in the Library of Congress by the Sigmund Freud Archives.—The Editors.

To the Editors:

Some time in the mid-Sixties I sold to the Sigmund Freud Archives in New York a collection of letters written from 1926 to 1938 by Dr. Freud to my mother, Mrs. Joan Riviere, his pupil in the early Twenties and one of his earliest translators. I did this believing that these papers would be accessible to serious students and research workers. No agreement to that effect was made but it seemed a natural and reasonable supposition in dealing with a reputable and responsible institution. Time was to show that my suppositions, reasonable or no, were quite too innocent.

Part at least of the material now in the possession of the Sigmund Freud Archives has passed into the care of the Library of Congress (under what arrangements and whether legal or informal I do not know) and at the same time has been put under restriction so that no access to it is possible until the year 2000.

Surely this is a ridiculous situation and a pointless restriction. It is not a matter of state secrets but of the work, theories, and opinions of a scientist of world-wide fame and historic importance, long since dead, as are probably all the people mentioned in the letters. Those of us who survive, and whose memories might supply a few useful answers to the questions of workers in the field, are likely to be dead long before such questions can be asked.

I write mainly to urge the importance of some action to prevent this happening in the future in these or other fields of knowledge. I am quite ignorant of American law and of the powers of the Library of Congress, and am too old and unsuitably situated to undertake anything myself, but feel there must be many people of like opinions who could….

Diana Riviere

London, England

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