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Erwin W. Straus Collection

Identifier: MSS PHEN-001

Scope and Contents

The Erwin Straus Collection contains personal papers and materials gathered by Erwin Straus, including travel documents and official papers, personal items, correspondence, published materials, multimedia such as photographs, slides, and drawings, and miscellaneous items. The collection measures one and one half linear feet and its items range in date from 1917 to 1976.

The strength of this collection lies in the published materials included in it, especially the amount of monographs and reprinted articles which Straus collected, since they reflect Straus's interests in his field and even include his own writings. This is especially true of his folder for Binswanger's article "Vom Sinn Der Sinne," as Straus compiled other supporting materials on the piece.

The second largest series is that of correspondence. While there is a great deal of correspondence from 1969 and 1970, records before and after those dates are less comprehensive, tending to focus more on specific topics such as Straus's stolen art and his family's flight from Germany.

Other series in this collection are smaller and therefore not comprehensive. The entire collection is a small one, so few research materials exist, and the scope of the collection is limited. A language barrier also exists in this collection, as much of the text is in German, rendering it useless for researchers who do not read that language.


  • 1917-1976

Biographical / Historical

Biography 1891-1975 Erwin W. Straus, specialist in phenomenological psychology and existential psychiatry, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1891. A student of academic medicine, he was educated in Switzerland and Germany. After serving in the German army during World War I, Straus continued his studies under Karl Bonhoeffer, at the Charite Hospital in Berlin. During the 1920s, Straus became interested in phenomenology, following scholars such as Edmund Husserl, Ludwig Binswanger, V.E. von Gebsattel, Juergen Zutt, and Eugene Minkowski. Together they formed a group and laid the groundwork for European psychiatry after World War II. On March 15, 1920, he married Gertrude, known as Trudi, and the two remained together until his death fifty-five years later. Straus left Germany to teach at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, in 1938. He maintained his position there for six years, but from 1944 onward he focused on clinical psychology, research, adn writing. His primary interest was on the human senses. Straus's final post was at the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Lexington, Virginia. He died in 1975, regarded as one of the most influential men of his field. For more information, see "In Memoriam: Erwin W. Straus, 1971-1975," by Lucie Jessner and James Foy, in American Journal of Psychiatry 132, no. 11 [November 1975], page 1218.


1.5 Linear Feet (The Erwin Straus Collection, consisting of 1.5 linear feet of materials, is contained in three acid-free boxes.)

Language of Materials


Erwin Straus Collection
An inventory of the personal artifacts and papers of Dr. Ewin W. Straus
Kelly Anderson and Matthew Jones
updated 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English, German

Repository Details

Part of the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center Repository