Digitization of the Melanie Klein Archive by the Wellcome Trust Library
The Melanie Klein Archive
In her Will Melanie Klein left her notes and papers to the Melanie Klein Trust, and they were at first in the care of Hanna Segal. In 1984 they were given to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre of the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, where they could be more easily preserved and made available to scholars. Thus the material is now owned by the Wellcome Library, while the Melanie Klein Trust retains copyright.
The archive online
The archive has recently been digitised, making it freely available online. To access the material:
- Go to the Wellcome Library homepage
- Type ‘Melanie Klein’ into the ‘Search the Library Catalogues’ field, then on the results page filter by ‘Online’
- Or, in the same field, search for ‘digklein’
- Select the result you want and click ‘View online’
The Trust’s honorary archivist, Jane Milton, posts extracts from this rich trove of unpublished material in her blog, ‘Exploring Melanie Klein’s Archive at the Wellcome Library’.
There are 29 boxes, each containing several hundred pages of papers. Some, especially the earlier papers, are in German and some of this is written in ‘Deutschschrift’, which is difficult to decipher. Some of the early correspondence of Moritz and Libussa (Deutsch) Reizes – Klein’s parents – includes extensive passages in Yiddish. However the later material, written once Klein had settled in England, is in English. Some material is handwritten by Klein; other material is in typescript, often with corrections in Klein’s handwriting. Most of the archive has now been microfilmed and is available for study in this form by bona fide scholars.
The papers had already been catalogued in 1961, just after Klein’s death, and this cataloguing was used as a guideline by Dr Lesley Hall, senior archivist at the Wellcome Library, who made corrections and added further material as it was donated. Further donations were as follows:
- From Klein’s biographer Phyllis Grosskurth.
- From Betty Joseph – translations of letters from Klein’s family members and photographs of Klein’s original small toys used in child analysis, 2005.
- From Paul O’Farrell – photographs of the unveiling of a plaque in Pitlochry where the analysis of Richard took place in Narrative of a Child Analysis, 1987.
- From Klein’s grandchildren – consisting of family correspondence, 1990.
- From the Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen- copies of drawings by ‘Richard’ and copies of Klein’s letters to Georg Brandes about the posthumous publication of her brother Emanuel Reizes‘ writing, 2005.
- Description of the material
Material includes correspondence, diaries, drafts of letters and publications, case material, photographs, files on the controversies within the British Psychoanalytical Society, 1939-1944, family correspondence and literary fragments. The collection is not considered to be complete; Melanie Klein retained hardly any professional letters, although more family letters survive. However, she kept an enormous amount of case material – there are 12 boxes of clinical notes – so it is clear that Klein, unlike Freud, thought that her unpublished notes were worth preserving, and may well have been intending to use some of them in future publications. Klein tended to date her clinical notes, but most of her notes on theory and technique are undated.
The material is arranged in five sections as follows:
A. Personal and biographical, 1879-1982;
B. Case material;
E. Controversy within the British Psycho-Analytical Society, 1939-1944;
F. Family papers
Access and reproduction conditions
Unless otherwise stated, the papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader’s Undertaking. Certain clinical files are restricted and readers must additionally complete a Restricted Access application form to apply for access. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner, the Melanie Klein Trust.
Work in the archives
Material in German is in the process of being transcribed and translated by the Melanie Klein Trust. Elizabeth Spillius was the Honorary Archivist for the Trust for many years. Since 2014 the post has been held by Jane Milton, who is continuing her predecessor’s work of making the archives more available to scholars and facilitating publication of interesting material.
Spillius, E. (2007) Encounters with Melanie Klein. Edited by Roth and Rusbridger. London: Routledge.
Melanie Klein (1882-1960) List of papers in the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, Compiled by Jens Lazarus and Lesley Hall (available via the Wellcome Library).