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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2518

Abraham Aaron Roback papers


Papers of Abraham Aaron Roback (1890-1965), the Polish-born, American psychologist, philologist, folklorist, and educator.


  • Creation: 1909-1965

Language of Materials

Collection materials are primarily in English. Some materials also in French, German, Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, and other languages.

Conditions Governing Access

This entire collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times. Oversized items are shelved in last box and are so marked in finding aid.

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.


12.5 linear feet (11 boxes)

The papers of Abraham Aaron Roback contain a variety of materials including: personal correspondence; correspondence relating to books authored and edited by Roback; autograph manuscripts of book reviews and other compositions; teaching, graphology, and research materials; compositions written by others sent to Roback; and numerous materials in Yiddish, including correspondence.

The collection includes: photographs; clippings; notes; printed materials; and course materials such as lecture notes, syllabi, and bibliographies relating to Roback's academic interest in psychology and psychologists, Yiddish language and literature, and the Jewish people. Especially includes course and project materials from Emerson College, the Harvard Grant Study, and the Massachusetts Dept. of Education Division of University Extension. Materials also include Roback's work as author of Pictorial history of psychology and psychiatry , as editor of The Albert Schweitzer jubilee book , and many other books, articles, and essays.

Correspondents include Gordon Allport, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud (photocopies only), Robert Frost, Herman Hesse, Henry James, Hugo Münsterberg, Morton Prince, George Santayana, Albert Schweitzer, William James Sidis, and many others.

Biographical / Historical

Abraham Aaron Roback (1890-1965) was a Polish-born psychologist, philologist, folklorist, and educator. He grew up in Montreal, graduated from McGill University (B.A. 1912), and lived most of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received an M.A. from Harvard in 1913 and the Ph.D. in 1917. He was a traveling fellow at Princeton in 1916 and held a National Research Council Fellowship at Harvard from 1923 to 1925. He was an instructor in psychology at Harvard University and also at other institutions, such as Northeastern, Simmons, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Clark University. From 1949 to 1958 he was Chairman and Professor of Psychology at Emerson College. He also held a long-term teaching assignment with the Massachusetts Department of University Extension. His principle fields of research were psychology, graphology, and interpretation of Jewish (especially Yiddish) culture. Roback also managed a publishing business known as Sci-Art Publishing Company and was a volunteer organizer of Harvard's Yiddish collection. He occasionally published under the pseudonyms Robert J Acton, Frederick Ayers, and Anton de Borcka.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence with Roback
  2. II. Compositions by Roback
  3. III. Graphology materials
  4. IV. Teaching and research materials
  5. V. Compositions by others
  6. VI. Other materials

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown; Possibly received between 1957 and 1965.

Related Materials

Additional personal papers of Abraham Aaron Roback are held in the Manuscript Collection of the Special Collections Division of the McGill University Library, in the Canadian Jewish Congress National Archives and Reference Centre, and in the Emerson College Archives.

Separated Materials

Papers of A. A. Roback are also held by the Harvard University Archives. Houghton's collection, and that of the HUA, appear to have been one collection in the past, i.e.: some materials have page 1 at Houghton, and later pages at HUA.

Processing Information

Processed by: Peter K. Steinberg and Jessica Suárez, with the assistance of Nicole Barenbaum and Bonnie B. Salt

Roback, A. A. (Abraham Aaron), 1890-1965. Abraham Aaron Roback papers, 1909-1965: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description
Cataloging funded by the Francis P. Scully and Robert G. Scully Class of 1951 Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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