Archives and Special Collections

rare books

The Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung lectures at Clark University

The Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung lectures at Clark University were only one part of a series of scholarly conferences held during July and September of 1909 to observe the University's twentieth anniversary of becoming the 2nd graduate school in the United States. Indeed, Clark's distinguished reputation was part of the reason that Freud and Jung decided to speak here; they were relatively unknown while Clark was highly respected. Freud's lectures at Clark propelled him towards becoming the well-known figure that he is today because his lectures brought him to the attention of a much wider audience.

It was G. Stanley Hall, Clark University's President, who brought about the conferences and who secured Freud and Jung as speakers. For the 1909 celebration, Hall organized conferences about the university's major areas of study: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, pedagogy, child welfare, and international relations. He was able to get men who were renowned in each of these fields to come lecture because they were to be part of the celebration of one of America's foremost institutions of graduate education. Hall was well known as a pioneer among American psychologists and had previously corresponded with Freud. As a result, he was able to get Freud to come deliver the only lectures he ever gave in the Western Hemisphere.

Freud's five lectures were given the overall heading "The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis" and he gave the first one on the morning of Tuesday, September 7th. Jung spoke about "The Association Method" in his three lectures, the first of which was given on Thursday, September 9th. William Stern, H. S. Jennings, Franz Boas, Adolf Meyer, and E. B. Titchener gave the other lectures in the psychology conference.

Although there is no record of who attended the lectures, there is a photo of many of those attending on September 10th. It is unlikely that many people attended every lecture at the conference. In fact, Freud and Jung did not even attend all of the lectures; they found one so boring that they left for a long walk in the nearby countryside.

For speaking at the conference, both Freud and Jung received honorary degrees from Clark. For Freud, who was visibly moved by the honor, it was the only such degree he would ever receive.

In his autobiography, Freud wrote about what the Clark lectures meant to him. He wrote: "In Europe I felt as though I were despised; but over there I found myself received by the foremost men as an equal. As I stepped onto the platform at Worcester to deliver my Five Lectures upon Psychoanalysis it seemed like the realization of some incredible day-dream: psychoanalysis was no longer a product of delusion, it had become a valuable part of reality."

Clark University's former historian, William A. Koelsch, has written a booklet that is titled Incredible Day-Dream: Freud and Jung at Clark, 1909. It is over 50 pages in length and discusses Freud and Jung's trip to and ectures at the 1909 psychology conference at Clark University. The cost, including shipping, is $10. To order, please send a check, payable to Clark University Archives, to Clark University Archives, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610.

There are two photos of the 1909 Psychology Conference at Clark University. One is of Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung, A. A. Brill, Ernest Jones, and Sandor Ferenczi. The other is of both those who spoke at and who attended the conference on September 10, 1909; there were over forty people in the photo including the men in the other photo as well as William James and J. M. Cattell.