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In his autobiography, All Out!, Ellis writes about John Ciardi, the editor of his 1954 book The American Sexual Tragedy. Ellis agreed with many of Ciardi’s suggestions–some of his detailed editorial notes are on jealousy. Ellis mentions that Ciardi was "neither his therapist nor a political thought…" (All Out!, pp. 474) Ciardi at that time was not only the executive editor at Twayne Publishers, Inc., but a well respected poet and in the process of completing his translation of one of the most popular versions of Dante’s Inferno in the twentieth century. Ironically, Ciardi’s poetic sensibilities gave him a much deeper insight into all facets of romantic love and especially jealousy.

Ciardi provided a corrective to Ellis’s false notion that "fiction writers deliberately teach jealousy" but rather that they "are simply reporting society. Can it not as easily be said that people teach authors to write about jealousy." (Box 118, folder 8, Ciardi, Notes on chapter 6: Jealousy, undated)

John Ciardi’s comments illustrate the editorial process at its finest of which more later.

Ellis to Ciardi, 1952 December 26



Ciardi: Notes on chapter 6, Jealousy, undated, page 1









Ciardi: Notes on chapter 6, Jealousy, undated, page 2






















Ciardi: Notes on chapter 6, Jealousy, undated, page 3


American Academy of Psychotherapists…


Ellis, Jules Barron, Henry Guze, and Milton V. Kline organized the American Academy of Psychotherapists (AAP) in 1955. They formed the Academy to bring various professionals in psychotherapy together to share research and ideas, and facilitate high standards of training for the benefit of the public.

The Academy arranged conferences and symposia on a variety of topics. In addition, it sponsored research projects and assisted in the publishing of research papers and books on psychotherapy.

Below are documents outlining the aims, membership requirements, report of the first annual conference, and the first newsletter of the Academy. I have also included correspondence between Ellis and Carl Rogers.

AAP–Aims, 1955, page 1


AAP, Aims, 1955, page 2












AAP, Aims, 1955, page 3


AAP, Nomination and Election Ballot, 1955












AAP, Membership requirements for psychiatrists, 1955



AAP, Membership requirements for psychologists, 1955












AAP, Membership requirements for social workers, 1955



Carl Rogers to Ellis, 1955 July 27












AAP, Rogers to Ellis, 1955 August 18



Ellis to Rogers, 1955 August 20












AAP, First Annual Conference, 1956 October 20, page 1


AAP, First Annual Conference, 1956 October 20, page 2-3











AAP, Newsletter, volume 1, number 1, 1956 June, page 2



AAP, Newsletter, volume 1, number 1, 1956 June, page 1














AAP, Newsletter, volume 1, number 1, page 4
AAP, Newsletter, volume 1, number 1, 1956 June, page 3














AAP, Report of the first annual conference, undated, page 1


AAP, Report of the first annual conference, undated, page 2


Robert A. Harper…


Robert Harper was one of Ellis’s first collaborators. When Ellis first developed REBT in 1955, Harper was his first supporter. The two men shared a distaste for puritanical individuals in the field and fought against them publicly through numerous presentations. Harper joined Ellis in writing REBT: A Guide to Rational Living, and A Guide to Successful Marriage, both in 1961. They continued to collaborate over the years producing such works as, A New Guide to Rational Living, 1975, How to Stop Destroying Your Relationships, 2001, and Dating, Mating, and Relating: How To Build a Healthy Relationship, 2003

Ellis met Bob in 1950 at the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy. Harper was very active in the profession, over the course of many years he served as president of a variety of divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA). The two enjoyed a lasting friendship until Bob’s death in 2004.

The correspondence I have posted below is between Ellis and Harper. I find their letters hilarious. The two corresponded regularly for 1950 until 2004.

Harper to Ellis, 1955 June 8


Ellis to Harper, 1955 July 23












Ellis to Harper, 1955 August 7


Harper to Ellis, 1955 September 27









Ellis to Harper, 1955 October 9










Harper to Ellis, 1955 November 7, page 1



Harper to Ellis, 1955 November 7, page 2














Ellis to Harper, 1955 November 13




Harper to Ellis, 1957 November 13











Ellis to Harper, 1957 November 24


Random Correspondence…


With the help of an undergraduate student and an intern, I have been going through and sorting the correspondence for the past few months. While I have not been able to read all the letters, those that I have had the opportunity to peruse have shed light on Ellis’s character.

He was obviously blunt and to the point, but remained professional with intelligent delivery, none the less.

My intern, Grace Smith, who has been sifting and sorting the correspondence had the following to say about her experience:

"Processing the correspondence of the Albert Ellis papers has been shocking, but at the same time has shed light on Ellis’ personality. The letters I have been processing covers an array of topics and concerns, including fan mail (praising Ellis for his published works, his theories, or his positive effect on patients), criticisms of his theories or his literature, letters from patients seeking advice, correspondence with publishers, conference-related publicity or arrangements, and personal letters, among others! His response varies depending on the nature of the letter, though one thing can be said of his replies–he is generally quite frank."

I have posted some examples of correspondence found within this collection below.

Ellis letter dated 1981 September 8, page 1



Ellis letter dated 1981 September 8, page 2
















What is rather incredible is that as far as I can tell Ellis responded to the majority (if not all) of the inquiries he received, and he received quite a bit. I have yet to find one form letter–he personally answered his fan mail which came in many forms. Many individuals who were not his patients wrote to him asking for advice with regard to personal issues, some wrote to criticize, others requested copies of his writings, and many were patients. Regardless, Ellis took the time to pen a response.


Ellis letter dated 1975 June 6



Letter to Ellis, 1975















Ellis even responded to advertisers–he was apparently not too pleased with the World of Beauty.

Ellis letter dated 1971 June 16

















In the letter below, Mr. Walker wishes for Ellis to include his illustrations in a forthcoming book, but Ellis’s publisher, Lyle Stuart, feels the illustrations are "naive." While Ellis does not agree with Lyle, he does stipulate that the "love prop" illustrations should not be included in final publication as those illustrated are not "legitimate" props, and would thus not serve to enhance sex relations between two persons. I have scanned the letter along with a few love props below and am inclined to agree with Ellis on this one.

Ellis to Walker letter, 1967 December 4



Love Props, title page














Love Props, introduction, page 1



Love Props, introduction, page 2











Love Props, Index













Love Props–Apple Tree



Love Props–the Pier




















The document below is not correspondence, but I included it because it was found within correspondence and appears to be the of the ’60s .

Project TACT (Technical Automated Compatibility Testing), 1965, page 1





Project TACT, page 2













Project TACT, page 3




Project TACT, page 4















REBT vs. Objectivism…

On May 26, 1967, a public debate was held titled "Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy vs. Objectivist Psychology." Ellis, of course, represented REBT, while Nathaniel Branden (psychologist and Ayn Rand follower at the time), represented the Objectivist side.

More than 1100 people attended the debate, most of whom were followers of Objectivism. Ellis claims to have shown many of the irrationalities of Objectivist thought all while they loudly booed him. Ayn Rand sat in the audience and became extremely upset when Ellis made comments on the characters in her novels.

As a result of this debate Ellis published Is Objectivism a Religion? In it he posits his opinions on Objectivism.

I have posted a letter here from Ellis to Branden. This letter is Ellis’ response to a letter Branden sent him, condemning his behavior at the REBT vs. Objectivism debate.

Ellis letter to Branden, 1967 September 22, page 1
Ellis letter to Branden, 1967 September 22, page 2
Ellis letter to Branden, 1967 September 22, page 3
Ellis letter to Branden, 1967 September 22, page 4
Ellis letter to Branden, 1967 September 22, page 5
Ellis letter to Branden, 1967 September 22, page 6

Ellis on Marx…


Albert Ellis is best known as the creator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This form of psychotherapy is one of the most practiced forms of cognitive therapy today. What I find most interesting is that he was primarily influenced by philosophy rather than psychology.

Ellis's hobby, beginning at the age of 16, was philosophy--first reading it, and then writing it. When he enrolled in the City College of New York for his undergraduate degree he was still reading these philosophic texts although his major was Business Administration. In 1932, Ellis met Manny Elston and Albert Ney, both of whom had a profound impact on his thoughts and views of the world at the time. Ellis states in his autobiography All Out! that it was these two individuals that encouraged him to apply some of the economic philosophy that he was reading and turned him from armchair philosopher into active revolutionist. Elston, a professor of music, and Ney, a decorator, had run the Young Communist League of America (YCL), until they had been tossed out due to some ideological differences. Elston and Ney went on to start their own revolutionary party, Young America.

Ellis letter to Simon and Schuster, 1936 March 25, page 1





Ellis letter to Simon and Schuster, 1936 March 25, page 2


Young America was against the American Communist Party (CP), but was for socialism and collectivism. Young America appealed to Ellis for a variety of reasons:

"First, it was radical, not namby-pamby liberal or social democratic. Second, it was opposed to the Communist Party of America, which I considered Stalin's handmaiden and the apologist for his dictatorial terrorism and suppression of free speech. Third, it would fight against fascism, which had already taken over Italy,


 and against Nazism, which was about to take over Germany. Fourth, it might help save the United States from the Great Depression, which capitalism and the Republican Party had brought on and which was now entering its devastating third year." 1

Elston and Ney made Ellis leader of one of the chapters. Ellis was deathly afraid of public speaking, but would use this opportunity to overcome his fear. He forced himself to deliver a public speech once a week, laying out the framework of Young America to audiences in the hopes of gaining supporters and new members. As a result of this exercise not only would he overcome his fear, but would become an excellent public speaker. This experience served to teach Ellis about phobias, and influenced his psychotherapy practices later in life.

Primer of Marxism, title page





Primer of Marxism, Table of Contents, page 1


Back to Ellis' revolutionary days. He was enrolled in Business Administration so economics was at the forefront of his studies. He had believed that collectivism should trump capitalism based on what he had read and was learning in college. Capitalism was rather inefficient what with all the technology available why not overproduce and take the surplus time to enjoy one's life? Ellis, above all, believed in efficiency--if collectivism was employed, then workers could harness technology to do a significant portion of labor, and workers could enjoy shorter work hours. Ellis later stated that his view had been naïve because although collectivism was in theory a good idea and capitalism a bad one, under Stalin's dictatorship the farmers and factory workers sabotaged socialism and its magnanimous and self-sacrificing virtues. Perhaps capitalism was in fact the more efficient system.

Though Ellis later turned away from Marxism, traces of his early enthusiasm for efficiency are apparent in his papers. I just started sifting through the Albert Ellis Papers, charged with the job of organizing and describing these materials. While the many boxes contain a disarray of papers, I did come across a large brown envelope with "Primer of Marxism, First Draft," written across the front. Inside I found a manuscript along with a letter to Simon and Schuster from Ellis dated March 25, 1936. Previously, on January 28, 1936, Oxford Publishing Company had turned down the manuscript for publishing. I came to uncover that Ellis had completed this Primer in 1935, at the age of 21.

Primer of Marxism, Table of Contents, page 2



Primer of Marxism, Table of Contents, page 3



In this manuscript of the Primer, Ellis breaks down Das Kapital, volume by volume, explaining the tenets of Marx's text. He eliminates that which he considers confusing, or unnecessary and confusing making for a more efficient text. This primer is essentially an explanation, if you will, of Das Kapital. For anyone who has read this Marx text, this primer might well be appreciated.

Primer of Marxism, Table of Contents, page 4



Interestingly, it would appear that this primer has never been published.



I have scanned some of the text and posted it here.

 1. Ellis, Albert, All Out! An Autobiography (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2010) 265.



Primer of Marxism, Introduction, page 1






Primer of Marxism, Introduction, page 2










Primer of Marxism, Volume I, "What Gives a Commodity Exchange-Value?", page 3







Primer of Marxism, Volume I, "What Gives a Commodity Exchange-Value?", page 4




Welcome to the Albert Ellis Blog..


Albert Ellis was one of the most influential figures in modern psychology, best known for developing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). In December 2010, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University acquired his papers, approximately 300 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, journals notebooks, and audio materials, documenting his fascinating and controversial life and career. This blog will follow my progress as I sort through and organize these records.


Ellis materials

Ellis was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1913. He was the oldest of three, a brother, Paul, and a sister, Janet. His father was a salesman and spent a considerable time on the road. When Ellis was four, the family moved to New York, first to an apartment in Manhattan, and later to the Bronx.

When Ellis was twelve, he entered junior high at Public School 79 and then attended the High School of Commerce. Ellis went on to enroll in the Baruch School of Business and Civic Administration of CCNY obtaining his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1934.

He had always been an avid reader, and much of his reading centered on the subjects of love, marriage and sex, leading him to becoming what he called a "sex-love revolutionist." He wrote about these topics frequently and as a result, many friends and family members would approach Ellis for advice. He founded the Love and Marriage Problem (LAMP) Institute for research and therapy, but without a degree in said subject matter, he decided to pursue one in 1942, enrolling in the psychology program at Teachers College. Ellis received his MA in Guidance in 1943, and his PhD in Counseling in 1947, both from Teachers College. After obtaining his PhD, he became chief psychologist of the New Jersey State Diagnostic Center and then chief psychologist of the State of New Jersey. In 1951, he published his first book, The Folklore of Sex.

After practicing liberal psychoanalysis for many years, Ellis left it behind and developed REBT. The development of REBT happened over the course of a few years, from 1953 to 1955. This therapy includes "cognitive, emotional, and action-oriented techniques, but was highly philosophic. It used many methods of ancient philosophies–such as Socrates, Epictetus, and Seneca; but also favored modern methods of Emerson, Dewey, Santayana, Russell, and Wittgenstein." 1 In addition, Ellis was greatly influenced by Afred Korzbyski, who developed the theory of general semantics, and Paul Tillich, an existentialist. The psychologists Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, and Karen Horney were also primary influences.

In 1959, Ellis founded the Albert Ellis Institute in Manhattan, which trained therapists in the United States and abroad, gave professional and public presentations and distributed published materials on REBT. 

I was hired at the end of 2010 by Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library to process, (arrange and describe), the Albert Ellis Papers donated to the University by the Albert Ellis Institute and Ellis’s widow, Debbie Joffe Ellis.

I took some photographs of the boxes piled up in my office. While the papers appear a bit chaotic, the fact that I do not have an inventory of these records should provide some surprises as I move through them. 

Part of the joy for archivists is research. A substantial part of our job is the description of materials, which will serve as an aid to any future interested parties wishing to conduct research. The descriptive aspect requires reading and learning as much as possible about the subject, or in this case, individual. One document can lead to a quest, usually turning up a story. The most common complaint among fellow archivists is lack of time–we always wish to be able to read everything held within these collections. I hope you will follow me as I post materials here and supply some of my work and history behind them.

Ellis materials, reel to reel
Ellis materials, audio cassette tapes

1. Ellis, Albert, All Out! An Autobiography (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2010) 548.