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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Ger 202

Franz Clemens Brentano papers


Correspondence and compositions of the German philosopher, Franz Clemens Brentano.


  • Creation: 1867-1917

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in German and Italian.

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted: fragile; use surrogate. For access to original consult curatorial staff.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


20 linear feet (28 boxes)

Series I contains correspondence and manuscripts of Brentano. Major correspondents include Christian von Ehrenfels, Oskar Kraus, Anton Marty, Alfred Kastil, Karl Stumpf, Franz Hillebrand, Edmund Husserl, and smaller amounts of correspondence with Heinrich Gomperz, Theodor Gomperz, and Herman Schell. There are a considerable number of letters from Giuseppe Amato Pojero, Emil Utitz, and Francesco Orestano. Other papers include drafts of psychology lectures and manuscripts of writings, Petzold, Das Welt Problem, and On Reininger. The papers mostly written in German; letters from Amato Pojero are in Italian. Series II includes autograph and typescript compositions of Franz Bretano.

Biographical / Historical

Franz Clemens Brentano (1838-1917) was a German philosopher and psychologist generally regarded as the founder of act psychology, or intentionalism. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1864 and appointed a professor at the University of Würzburg in 1872. In 1873 he resigned from both his post at the university and the priesthood. He then began writing one of his most influential works, Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte (1874; Psychology from an empirical standpoint ). In 1874 he was appointed professor at the University of Vienna and in 1880 he decided to marry. His marriage was blocked by the Austrian authorities who considered him still a cleric and he was forced to resign his professorship and moved with his wife to Leipzig. He returned to the University of Vienna in 1895 as a "Privatdozent." Brentano was influential in the development of Gestalt and existential psychology. Other major works were: Untersuchungen zur Sinnespsychologie (1907; Inquiry into sense psychology ) and Von der Klassifikation der psychischen Phänomene (1911; On the classification of psychological phenomena ).


Arranged into two series: I. Correspondence, II. Compositions.

Physical Location

b, Harvard Depository

Custodial History

The manuscripts were formerly owned by John C.M. Brentano (son of Franz Brentano), 29 Lakeview Terrace, Highland Park, Illinois.

These papers were originally deposited with the Brentano Archive, Prague, Czechoslovakia, from where, in 1938, they were transferred to Manchester, England. Subsequently they were deposited in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University. In spring of 1951, they were sent to Highland Park, Ill. U.S.A., where J.C.M. Brentano lived. J.C.M. Brentano (d.1969) transferred the papers to the Franz Brentano Foundation in 1966. The papers were then deposited in the Houghton Library.

There is a detailed account of the history of the papers in: Brentano, J.C.M. "The manuscripts of Franz Brentano," in Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 1966, Fascicule 4, Nr. 78. " [copy in Manuscript Department curatorial file.]

Immediate Source of Acquisition

66M-206. Compositions: Permanent deposit by Franz Brentano Foundation,1966 October 24.

71M-125, 77M-78. Correspondence: Permanent deposit by Franz Brentano Foundation; received: 1966, 1971.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm and a set of copyflo made from the negative microfilm (6 vols.) of the compositions are available as: Brentano, Franz Clemens, 1838-1917. [Manuscripts and typescripts on philosophy and psychology]. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 1959. These materials are available at John Hay Library of Brown University, shelf mark 1-size/B3212/A3/1959.

Processing Information

The papers were processed by Rebecah Kline, 2002, with revisions made by Melanie Wisner and Bonnie Salt. The former compositions collection, formerly known as MS Ger 230, was integrated into MS Ger 202 by Betts Coup in May 2022.

The original index for the compositions was prepared by Professor Franziska Mayer-Hillebrand , Innsbruck, in the winter of 1951-1952. It is available as: Brentano, Franz Clemens, 1838-1917. Index of the manuscripts of Franz Brentano. Catalogued by Professor Franziska Mayer-Hillebrand. Innsbruck, 1951 [Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 1959].

An introduction (written in German by Mayer-Hillebrand) to the processing of the compositions can be found in the internal file.

Brentano, Franz Clemens, 1838-1917. Franz Clemens Brentano papers, 1867-1917: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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