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Géza Róheim Papers
MSS 0046  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953
    Title: Géza Róheim Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1929 - 1953
    Extent: 0.80 linear feet (2 archives boxes)
    Abstract: Papers of Géza Róheim, Hungarian anthropologist who applied psychoanalytic techniques to the study of cultures. Educated in Hungary and Germany, Róheim taught at the University of Budapest until 1938, when he immigrated to the United States. Between 1929 and 1931 he conducted field work in Australia, Melanesia, and Arizona. The collection includes drafts of writings and research materials, including transcriptions of the dreams and stories of Australian aborigines, and a vocabulary of the Normanby Islanders. The papers are divided into two series: WRITINGS and RESEARCH MATERIALS.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0046
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Materials in box 2, folders 2 and 3, cannot be used without the permission of the Manuscripts Librarian.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Géza Róheim Papers, MSS 0046. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


    Géza Róheim considered himself a professional anthropologist, although many see his work as an example of the Freudian school of psychoanalytic theory. He is credited as one of the first to apply psychoanalysis to the study of world cultures.
    The scion of an affluent Hungarian family, Róheim was born in Budapest in 1891. He took an early interest in literature and history, later receiving formal training in geography and anthropology. In addition, he studied psychoanalytic theory under Sandor Ferenczi, one of the pioneers in the field. Travelling to Germany prior to World War I, Róheim pursued his professional education in anthropology at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin. Also in Germany, he came under the influence of the theories of Sigmund Freud. Róheim returned to Hungary and, in 1919, became the first professor of anthropology at the University of Budapest, a post he held until 1938.
    Throughout the 1920s Róheim remained primarily an academic anthropologist. However, in 1929, he embarked on a lengthy field expedition that would last until 1931. Financed by Marie Bonaparte (Princess George of Greece), the field trip was originally designed to apply psychoanalytic theory to the aborigines of Central Australia. Róheim expanded the original plan to include journeys to the Melanesian island of Normanby, plus short trips to Somaliland and Arizona. In his field work, Róheim focused primarily on the individual member of a community or culture. He used many techniques that were not common in contemporary anthropology, including dream analysis and the analysis of children's play activities.
    In 1938 Róheim escaped the political turmoil in Europe and emigrated to the United States. He worked briefly, during 1938, as a clinician at the Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts. He then moved to New York City, where he entered private practice and continued his writing. In 1940 he lectured at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Although he took short field trips to study the Navaho Indians in the southwestern U.S., Róheim remained in New York City until his death in 1953.
    Róheim was primarily a theoretician, although his theory was always based on rigorous observation and study. He was one of the first anthropologists to successfully apply Freudian theories to the analysis of cultures. His "ontogenetic theory of culture" is considered a major contribution to his field. In this theory, Róheim contended that cultural differences were largely the result of an individual's childhood traumas. The childhood experiences of the individual, he thought, were ultimately reflected in adult personality and in the collective institutions of a given culture.
    Róheim stated his theory most clearly in his work The Origin and Function of Culture, published in 1943. Among his other works, the most notable are Australian Totenism (1925), Animism, Magic, and the Divine King (1930), The Eternal Ones of the Dream (1945), Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (1950), and The Gates of Dream (1952).
    After Róheim's death, many of his works were collected and published by anthropologist Werner Muensterberger. Muensterberger's editions include Magic and Schizophrenia (1955), The Panic of the Gods and Other Essays (1972) and Children of the Desert : The Western Tribes of Central Australia (1974).
    [Sources: Paul A. Robinson, The Freudian Left : Wilhelm Reich, Géza Róheim, Herbert Marcuse (New York: Harper and Row, c1969); George B. Wilbur and Warner Muensterberger, eds., Psychoanalysis and Culture : Essays in Honor of Géza Róheim (New York: International Universities Press, c1951).]

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection came to UCSD from Werner Muensterberger, who received the materials from Róheim himself. The collection contains only a small fraction of the papers Géza Róheim probably created and collected. Included are drafts of some of Róheim's writings, and research materials based on his field studies in Australia, Normanby Island, and the southwestern United States. The collection is divided into two series: WRITINGS and RESEARCH MATERIALS.
    None of the materials are dated, but it is probable that the papers were created between 1929 and 1953. This estimate is based on the subject matter, type of paper, and general condition of the materials.
    Included in the WRITINGS are drafts of three, including typescripts and manuscripts. Most of the RESEARCH MATERIALS relate to dream analysis involving Australian aborigine subjects. The "Stories" also relate to Australian subjects. The Navajo Indian materials were probably created during Róheim's American period, from 1938 to 1952. Of special interest is Róheim's notebook from his Normanby Island trip. The notebook includes a vocabulary of the Islanders and other linguistic information.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Róheim, GGéza, 1891-1953 -- Archives
    Ethnology -- Papua New Guinea -- Normanby Island
    Dreams -- Case studies
    Psychoanalysis and culture
    Aboriginal Australians -- Psychology
    Aboriginal Australians -- Folklore
    Navajo Indians -- Psychology
    Normanby Island (Papua New Guinea) -- Languages