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Access to archives

Sep 05, 2004 01:11 PM
by gregory

Regarding the discussions about access to Theosophical archives:

In my research, I was given completely unrestricted access to the Point 
Loma Publications Collection (library and archives) (and even fed and 
housed while working on them!), the ULT library in London, and the TS 
library in London. I had unrestricted access to the Pasadena library, but 
not the archives, although some archival material was provided to me on 
request, and Pasadena accommodated me while I was there, and the people 
were extremely helpful and generous. I had what was described as 
unrestricted access to the Adyar Library by courtesy of John Coats) but 
there were some odd "difficulties" over particular works - e.g. Ernest 
Wood's "Is this Theosophy?" was, apparently, in a permanent state of 
"being fumigated" (physically? psychically?). But no real obstructions 
were put in my way, and the staff were extremely helpful. A couple of 
minor problems were quickly resolved by John. I had slightly restricted 
access to the Adyar archives - I could not see a list of files or an 
inventory of materials, but if I requested a file, and it existed, it was 
provided to me. Thus, I asked for some files which "didn't exist" but 
when asked for under another title were produced. It just took a bit of 
imagination on my part. The only formal restriction I found was that 
requests to have copies made of some photographs were refused. I could 
have copies of some, but not of others. Essentially, the refusals were 
for copies of some fascinating photographs of Leadbeater with semi-naked 
boys in the grounds of The Manor. I was refused any access to the ES 
archives, but I must say I have no particular problem with that. The ES 
is a private, secret organization with a right to control its own 
archives. I have no complaints at all about the treatment I received at 
Adyar - people were generous, hospitable and kind. As a non-member and an 
academic researcher, I really could not have sought more assistance. 

Dr Gregory Tillett

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