NYPL Archives: Joseph Campbell Papers

Location: New York Public Library (NYPL)

The Joseph Campbell papers date from 1905 to 1995 (bulk dates 1930s-1980s), and consist of materials related to Campbell’s career as a college professor, lecturer, researcher, and author. The collection is arranged into eight Series, and holds Campbell’s original writing; teaching materials; files from his appearances in film and television; his research files; correspondence; photographs; and press clippings. Campbell’s files detail his research and writing work on mythology and literature, and chronicle the many lectures he gave throughout his career. The papers were previously held and processed by The OPUS Archives & Research Center at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, and include some materials that were added posthumously, such as lecture transcripts and outgoing correspondence. Projects started by Campbell in his lifetime and completed after his death, such as The Historical Atlas of World Mythology, are also held in the collection.

Visit the Joseph Campbell papers at the NYPL Archives

The Joseph Campbell papers are arranged in eight series:


Series I: Diaries and Journals
1917-1977

Series I contains an assortment of handwritten notebooks and some typescripts composed by Campbell between 1917 and 1977. This includes the Grampus journals, in which Campbell discusses his time in California in the 1930s, and his trip to Alaska with Ed Ricketts. The Grampus materials also contain a typed copy of an Ed Ricketts manuscript, and some materials related to John Steinbeck. Of note are Campbell’s journals from his trip to Asia in the 1950s, which encompass an assortment of handwritten diaries, notes, outlines, an address book, and typed journals. Additionally, there are four bound books of original writings that were assembled posthumously. The writings are original, but the order is artificial. These bound writings contain project plans, notes, schedules, banking information, seminar outlines, lecture notes, and lists.

Series II: Writing
1927-1995

31.38 linear feet (77 boxes)

Series II dates from 1927 to 1995, and holds Campbell’s original writings, comprising a mixture of manuscripts, drafts, materials intended for publication, and unpublished items. This includes pieces Campbell edited or produced in collaboration with other scholars; typed manuscripts; proposals for writing projects; published articles; and materials related to Campbell’s published books.

Editing and Collaborations comprises writings in which Campbell served as an editor, as well as pieces he authored with other writers. In the 1930s and 1940s, Campbell edited lectures from the Eranos conferences in Ascona, Switzerland, and prepared them for publication as Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks for Bollingen press. Campbell’s notes and reports for this project are compiled in the Eranos Papers files. Also included are Campbell’s notes and annotations on the papers of Heinrich Zimmer that he edited for publication. Of special interest is a handwritten draft script and notes from an opera collaboration with John Cage that was never produced, and a folder of Maya Deren’s writings that Campbell edited.

Among Campbell’s writings is also a selection of manuscripts, most notably his 1927 Master’s thesis, “A Study of Dolorous Stroke.” There is also an assortment of partial drafts which were posthumously separated, arranged by topic, and labeled as “outtakes.” These materials comprise handwritten drafts, typed excerpts, manuscript fragments, outlines, and notes. Many of these items also contain handwritten page numbers, but it is not evident where the writings originated, or with which work they are associated. Also included in the manuscript files are Campbell’s fiction and short stories and a number of unpublished works.

The Series also holds a small selection of proposals, most of which are from the 1950s. These proposals are for various writing and research projects, as well as Campbell’s 1953 study trip to India.

The Published Articles contain an assortment of Campbell’s early pieces, reviews, and chronologically arranged published works in their final form.

The Published Books files comprise notes, images, and manuscripts from Campbell’s books. Included are materials from A Skeleton Key to Finnegans WakeThe Hero with a Thousand FacesMasks of GodThe Mythic ImageInner Reaches of Outer SpaceFlight of the Wild Gander, and Historical Atlas of World Mythology. The most comprehensive materials are from the Historical Atlas of World Mythology files, some of which were compiled after Campbell’s death. There are handwritten and typed manuscripts, notes, research files, proofs, and many files of images intended for inclusion in the final text. The research materials are arranged alphabetically by topic, and also include some posthumously bound research notes.

Series III: Teaching
1932-1987

7.33 linear feet (18 boxes)

Series III contains files related to Campbell’s work as a college professor and lecturer. The Series holds Campbell’s CVs and a few certificates; files from Campbell’s teaching work at Sarah Lawrence College, the Foreign Service Institute, and Theater of the Open Eye; a comprehensive collection of his lecture notes and outlines; some lecture texts and transcripts; and programs and flyers from various speaking engagements.

The Sarah Lawrence files contain course lecture notes, outlines, and typed lecture texts and transcripts from Campbell’s tenure at the college. These course materials were filed by year, but typically do not state the class title to which they correspond. The Foreign Service Institute files hold contracts, schedules and a lecture transcript, while the Theater of the Open Eye materials include board minutes, brochures, financial records, and schedules.

The Lectures files are all arranged chronologically, and include each lecture’s title, date, and the location, when this information was documented. The files comprise an assortment of notes, outlines, and transcripts that span over five decades. Materials from Campbell’s lectures further assist to provide a detailed record of his public speaking and travel itinerary throughout his career.

Series IV: Film and Television
1963-1987

Series IV holds files that relate to Campbell’s appearances and work in film and television. Files from Mask, Myth and Dream and The Power of Myth both contain transcripts of Campbell’s televised lectures and conversations. The Series also hold a television proposal for The Mythic Landscape, and filmmaker’s logs and notes for The Hero’s Journey. All files are arranged chronologically by project.

Series V: Research Files
1926-1980s

27.92 linear feet (69 boxes)

Campbell’s Research Files consist of handwritten notes and outlines, as well as some images, prints, and slides. The materials are all arranged alphabetically by subject matter, most of which are the names of countries or regions. The major exception is the Authors and Philosophers files, which comprise Campbell’s notes on individuals such as William Blake, Franz Boas, Geoffrey Chaucer, James Joyce, Immanuel Kant, Marcel Proust, Claude Lévi- Strauss, Friedrich Nietzsche, and W.B. Yeats.

The Series also holds files of reading notes, which includes materials removed from Campbell’s personal book collection. The items removed from the book collection were placed in folders and labeled with specialized call numbers by OPUS. A list of Campbell’s book collection and the numbering system can be found as an additional resource to the finding aid.

Additionally, the Series holds a selection of posthumously bound notes. The arrangement of the research files, as well as the assigned subjects were likely applied after Campbell’s death.

Series VI: Correspondence
1929-1987

7.5 linear feet (18 boxes)

Series VI contains Campbell’s professional and personal correspondence, which dates from 1929 to 1987. The majority of the files are incoming letters, and are generally professional in nature. While most correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or organization name, there is a selection of letters to Campbell commenting on his books and lectures, which are filed by title. Most folders in the Series contain a single letter, and include a label displaying a typed summary of the letter’s content. The major exception is correspondence between Campbell and Jean Erdman, where an abundance of incoming and outgoing letters is present, none of which were individually described. There is additional personal correspondence from Campbell’s parents, immediate family, and close friends found in the Series as well.

Series VII: Photographs
1905-1987

6.33 linear feet (15 boxes)

Prints, slides, and negatives that were held by or depict Campbell are in Series VII. Most of the images are personal photographs, and portray Campbell’s immediate family, friends, colleagues, his travels, and Campbell himself. The Series includes photographs of Campbell as a child, as a participant in college sports, and on vacation with his family. There are also professional portraits of Campbell, and photographs of such individuals as Christine Eliade, Simon Garrigues, Angela Gregory, C.G. Jung, Einar Palsson, Ed Ricketts, Dick Roberts, Carol Henning Steinbeck, Herbert K. Stone, and Heinrick Zimmer. While most of the photographs appear to have originated from Campbell and Erdman, there are some images of Campbell which were obtained from others to be used in posthumous book projects. All materials are arranged chronologically by topic, with the exception of two albums of photographs from the 1920s.

Series VIII: Press
1918-1987

2.75 linear feet (7 boxes)

Series VIII contains clippings of articles about Campbell and his work. The press files were previously arranged in a manner similar to the correspondence files in Series V. Most articles are in individual folders, and include a description of the material it holds. These files have been subsequently arranged by topic, which includes Awards; Books; Film and Television; Interviews and Profiles; Lectures; Reviews; and a scrapbook of press clippings dating from 1924 to 1944. All press files are further arranged chronologically within each topic.

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