The Charlotte Selver papers circa 20th century (bulk 1959 to 1999) consist of the personal and professional correspondence,
writings, transcripts of classes and workshops, photographs, personal items, and sound records of Charlotte Selver (1901-2003),
music educator, originator of the concept of “Sensory Awareness” and leading member of the “Sensory Awareness Foundation.”
Charlotte introduced sensory awareness to the U.S. She was closely connected to the Esalen Institute and San Francisco Zen
Center. Her work is continued by the Sensory Awareness Foundation. The papers also contain material related to Charles V.W.
Brooks, Selver’s husband, author, and Sensory Awareness instructor
Charlotte Selver (April 4, 1901 in Ruhrort (Duisburg), Germany – August 22, 2003 in Muir Beach, California; née Wittgenstein)
German music educator, originator of the concept of “Sensory Awareness” and leading member of the “Sensory Awareness Foundation”
began her studies with gymnastics teacher Elsa Gindler and music teacher Heinrich Jacoby in Germany in the 1920s. Their teaching
emphasized the development of the natural gifts of each person, at any age. Aspects of this emphasis was carried over into
sensory awareness, particularly the conscious sensing of the body and the deliberate following of physical sensation. Emigrating
from Germany to New York in 1938, Selver continued her work in this field, which was to have a strong influence on the Human
Potential Movement and humanistic psychology, as well as physical therapy and physical psychotherapy. Selver instructed students
in sensory awareness in many locations across the United States and the world from 1930s into the 2000s, attracting leaders
in the fields psychology, physical therapy, and philosophy, such as Alan Watts, Moshe Feldenkrais, Fritz Perls, and Ida Rolf.
Many of Selver’s workshops and classes were conducted at the Esalen Institute near Big Sur, California, where her first “experimental
workshop” took place in 1963. Selver married Charles V. W. Brooks in 1963, with whom she lived at Muir Beach, California,
up until her death in 2003. Together they taught classes and workshops. Based on these experiences, Charles authored
Sensory Awareness, describing his work with her as an instructor and the meaning of sensory awareness as a life practice. Charlotte Selver
died at the age of 102. Her work is continued by the Sensory Awareness foundation, in San Rafael, California.
114.13 linear feet
(20 document boxes, 56 cartons, 8 oversize boxes, 8 shoeboxes, 54 audiocassettes, 370 audiotape reels, 6 film reels)
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.
Many of the photographs in this collection are brittle and will require special handling. Please contact the UC Santa Barbara
Department of Special Research Collections in advance for access.