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Finding aid for the Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts, 1500-1825
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts
    Date (inclusive): 1500-1825
    Number: 950053
    Creator/Collector: Hall, Manly P. (Manly Palmer), 1901-1990
    Physical Description: 7.5 linear feet (243 vols.)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: A collection of 243 manuscripts detailing the arts of Alchemy, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and Masonry, gathered by Manly Palmer Hall, author and researcher in the realms of mysticism and the occult.
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    Language: Collection material is in Latin

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Manley Hall was born in 1901,in Peterborough, Canada, to William S. and Louise Palmer Hall. The Hall family moved to the United States in 1904 and lived for a time in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Manly Hall settled in Los Angeles in 1919.
    As a young man he became interested in occult matters. He subsequently joined a number of societies, among them the Theosophical Society, the Freemasons, the Societas Rosecruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, and the American Federation of Astrologers.
    In 1922 Manly Hall wrote his first book on philosophy/religion, Initiates of the Flame. According to Hall, he began collecting works on mysticism and the esoteric sciences: "late in the fall of 1922, the plan for a comprehensive work on the symbolism of western mystical societies began to take shape in my mind. It soon became apparent that research facilities for such a project were not available in Southern California... The only answer was to contact antiquarian book dealers and elict their cooperation in the search for the items desired." The collection of books and manuscripts which Hall purchased, primarily in the 1920s and 1930s, became the basis for his own research and the cornerstone of the Philosophical Research Society's holdings.
    Ordained to the ministry in 1923, Hall became minister to an occult/metaphysical congregation. As the leader of the Church of the People, Hall started a magazine titled the All Seeing Eye. In 1928 Hall published his extensive work An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy.
    In 1934 Hall founded the Philosophical Research Society, a research institute modeled on the ancient school of Phythagoras. 1935 marked the ground breaking for the first building of the complex. Major additions to the Philosophical Research Society came in 1950 and 1959. Hall delivered weekly lectures and continued writing on mystical topics. By 1940, Hall is said to have delivered over 7,000 lectures.
    1944 was the year of the first printing of Hall's book, Secret Destiny of America, apparently an expansion of a lecture he gave in 1942. The Philosophical Library edition of Secret Destiny of America was published in 1958. And in 1986 Hall completed his book the Rosicrucians and Magister Christoph Schlegel: Hermetic Roots of America.
    Manly Hall died in California. During his life he wrote over 50 books and hundreds of shorter works.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers; original Ripley scroll, and Ms. 209, and Ms. 210 are restricted; surrogate photographic copies available.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts, 1500-1825, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 950053.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1995.

    Processing History

    Trevor Bond processed the collection January 1998 and wrote the finding aid March 1998

    Digitized Collection Materials

    Selected items from the collection were digitized in 2010 and are available online. 

    Separated Material

    224 printed books were transferred to the library on June 6, 1995.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains 243 manuscripts, some only a few pages, bound in 68 volumes which detail the arts of Alchemy, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and Masonry. Highlights of this collection include: a twenty-one foot long Ripley Scroll, a heavily illustrated manuscript that records an alchemical poem by Ripley (George Ripley d. 1490); a 17th-century French manuscript copy of Michael Maier's "Atalanta Fugiens" with emblematic and mystical drawings and illuminations after Jacob Böhme; an 18th-century Pennsylvania Dutch manuscript of Rosicrucian cosmological charts and symbolic images; two triangular masonic manuscripts; two independent collections, the first named for Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom, who gathered together an assortment of manuscripts from the 16th to the early 19th century, many of which he translated into English, the second collection, attributed to Count Cagliostro, contains thirty manuscripts bound in one volume.

    Arrangement note

    Arranged in one series according to Hall's inventory list and using the manuscript numbering from Hogart's bibliography of the Manly P. Hall collection of books and mauscripts.
    Numbers in brackets following item descriptions refer to the numbering in Hogart's bibliography of the Manly P. Hall collection of books and mauscripts

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics


    Subjects - Titles

    Atalanta fugiens Ripley scroll

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Scroll (information artifact)


    Bacstrom, Sigismond
    Böhme, Jakob, 1575-1624
    Cagliostro, Alessandro, conte di, 1743-1795
    Hall, Manly P. (Manly Palmer), 1901-1990
    Maier, Michael, 1568?-1622
    Ripley, George, d. 1490?


    Publications consulted by the cataloger. Hogart, Ron Charles, 1958- Alchemy, a comprehensive bibliography of the Manly P. Hall Collection of books and mauscripts: including related material on Rosicrucianism and the writings of Jacob Böhme; introduction by Manly P. Hall . Los Angeles, Calif.: Philosophical Research Society, 1986. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Alchemy and the occult: a catalogue of books and manuscripts from the collection of Paul and Mary Mellon given to Yale University Library. New Haven, Yale University Library, 1968-77.