Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Aristide Rieffel Collection
Collection number: Mss 153
27 linear feet
(54 document boxes).
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library.
Dept. of Special Collections
Abstract: Primarily correspondence and writings [in French] of French philosopher, social scientist, journalist and inventor Rieffel,
who spent his last years in Santa Barbara.
Physical location: SRLF.
None. Collection is stored off-site; advance notice required for retrieval.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
Aristide Rieffel Collection. Mss 153. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa
Donated by Jane Crowell Rieffel, 1995-1996.
Aristide Rieffel was a French philosopher, social scientist, journalist and inventor whose life spanned eighty-three years,
four continents, and two marriages. Parisian born of Alsatian stock, Rieffel maintained a strong lifelong attachment to his
native France and to Alsace. Though he lived the last twenty-five years of his life in America, he remained thoroughly French.
He was born Arthur Zacharin Rieffel on May 1, 1859. He received a strong Catholic upbringing and, though he often questioned
church dogma, he remained deeply religious and spent much of his life pondering and writing on religious questions. Around
age nine he received the nickname "Aristide" for his precociousness. As an adult he used Aristide as a pen name, and eventually
as his legal name.
Young Aristide lived through the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the siege of Paris, and the subsequent
uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871. The violence and human suffering of these events deeply impressed him, and he devoted
most of his life's work to preventing war and violence. His pacifism brought him into close contact with Alfred Nobel and
Frédéric Passy, with whom he worked for several years.
Aristide also was an inventor who developed a marine steam engine and a device for producing halogen for lighting. The latter
invention made him a handsome profit, but mismanagement by his business partners cost him his fortune. He also was a traveler
and spent time in Russia, North Africa, the Middle East, North America, and various European countries. His travels gave him
a wide perspective on the human condition, and he used this perspective to frame concepts of human behavior and social organization
that he believed would eliminate war and lead to harmony and social justice. His life's work was "Le Livre" or "The Book,"
a large work covering virtually every aspect of individual and societal behavior. He hoped that by pointing out humanity's
problems and offering constructive solutions he would make the world a better place.
Ultimately Aristide's masterwork remained unfinished. However, enough of it exists to give the reader a clear idea of his
thought, when combined with his other writings. His vision for a future society was complex, and involved non-competitive
education, strong religious and moral upbringing, and the reform of virtually every governmental and societal institution,
including marriage and the family. He never outlined how his ideas would be enforced. nevertheless, his writings provide an
intriguing glimpse into the mind of a man tortured by human suffering and determined to put an end to it.
Aristide moved to Santa Barbara in 1930, and lived in a small house on De La Guerra Street. He often wrote letters to the
editor of the
Santa Barbara News Press, and was a familiar figure in the coffee houses and theaters downtown. He died on October 5, 1941 following an injury and
a prolonged illness.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Aristide Rieffel Collection contains the collected papers of Aristide Rieffel, as well as papers of his second wife Jeanne
and his children, Odile, Marc, and Mireille. Almost all of the material is in French. The bulk of the collection consists
of the correspondence and writings of Aristide. He was a meticulous note taker and he saved manuscript drafts, notes jotted
to himself on scraps of paper, newspaper clippings, and correspondence.
Whenever possible, the original arrangement of materials has been retained. In many cases explanatory notes accompany individual
series. Aristide's correspondence includes outgoing as well as incoming letters. Of particular note are letters from Emile
Zola, Frédéric Passy, and Alfred Nobel. His works include published articles, unpublished plays, poems, and a novel, as well
as a vast array of writings on social, religious, and political issues of his time. These works are almost exclusively written
in his own hand, as he disdained the use of a typewriter. His financial and legal papers include court proceedings, bank records,
and legal documents pertaining to his marriages and divorce.
In alphabetical listings, the French particles le, la, les, and à have been ignored. Thus,
Les resultats de la guerre comes after
Origines de la violence.
The Rieffel family commonly used abbreviations in reference to each other. These include:
- AR= Aristide Rieffel
- JAR= Jeanne Rieffel
- MAR= Marc-Aurele Rieffel
- MIR= Mireille Rieffel
The collection contains four series:
Series I: Correspondence (Boxes 1-21). Arranged by the following subseries: Aristide Rieffel to Family; General Correspondence; Correspondence with
Named Individuals; Business and Professional Correspondence: Correspondence of Other Family Members (Jeanne Rieffel, Marc-Aurele
Rieffel, Mireille Rieffel, Odile Rieffel, Family Letters).
Series II: Works (Boxes 2-46). Arranged by the following subseries: Biographie; Articles by Aristide Rieffel; Literary and Artistic Works;
Le Livre; Peace, War and the State; Religion and Morality; Science and Mediciine; Social Questions; Spiritisme.
Series III: Legal and Financial Papers (Box 47). Includes records of legal proceedings and financial arrangements concerning Rieffel's many inventions.
Series IV: Additions (Boxes 48-54). Arranged by the following subseries: Documents and Published Articles; Pages de copie-lettres; Marc-Aurele
Rieffel's Biography of Aristide Rieffel.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Politics and war.
The Hoover Institute on War and Peace at Stanford University holds 36 ms boxes of papers related to Aristide Rieffel, which
were donated by Mireille Rieffel. A collection-level record in the RLIN online database provides a brief description of contents.
The papers focus on issues of war and peace, international relations, temperance, and government, and consist mainly of Rieffel's
published and unpublished articles. There is a small amount of correspondence, as well as several publications by other writers.
for a detailed listing.
In addition to manuscript materials, the collection includes a number of monographs and serials collected by Aristide. Nearly
all are in French, date from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, and deal with the same sorts of issues as the
manuscripts. In addition there are a few European and North African travel guides. The printed works have been cataloged individually
and, like the manuscripts, are housed in the Department of Special Collections. For access, search the UCSB Pegasus online
catalog under the keyword Rieffel.