Re: Alexandra West
Feb 01, 1995 00:20 AM
by Olcott Library
On Tue, 31 Jan 1995 firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> of our rare archives. Other archives at the Pasadena T.S.
> and Wheaton are under lock and key, like the Boris de
> Zirkoff collection at Wheaton, which even Dara Eklund is no
> longer allowed to see. I would like to challenge both
> Wheaton and Pasadena to throw open their actives to copying
> by Alexandria West [AW].
> Why do theosophical centers keep their archives secret?
While the author of the above statement has made a partial
retraction, saying he/she has been informed that Dara Eklund
would be permitted to see the Boris de Zirkoff Collection, which
is located in the Archives Room at Olcott-- he or she (who are
you anyway?) is making totally unfounded accusations.
Theosophical centers are not the only institutions who keep their
archives under lock and key! This is standard practice for the
purpose of preserving the valuable, often fragile, materials
housed in archives. The reason is not secrecy but safety.
I have been the Librarian at Olcott for almost two years. The
Archives are located physically in the Olcott Library, but yes,
the room is locked. This is primarily for security reasons, and
this is customary in all institutions with which I have dealt or
where I have worked. Any serious researcher may apply to Dr.
John Algeo for access to the Archives at Olcott, and in the time
I have been here, permission has been granted many times, as long
as application is made well ahead of time, so that the materials
wanted can be located. We keep careful records of all persons
who use the Archives, and the list is long.
The second reason for restricting access to the archives is that
we do not have an archivist at Olcott-- someone who is able to
find the materials and to keep them organized. At some time in
the future, we hope to be able to afford such a position. Even
photocopying valuable documents can be harmful to them. It
should be done only by someone who has the skill and the
Anyone who has been to the British Museum Library to see the
original Mahatma Letters can tell you that this is quite an
undertaking. This is not because they don't want anyone to see
them, but because they want to preserve these documents from
damage and loss. They allow you to look at the big scrapbooks in
which the letters are mounted, and all the while they watch you
closely. (I tried to photograph one of the letters and was
almost thrown out!)
I really wish people would get their information directly from us
at Olcott, instead of making wild statements based on hearsay and
BTW I wonder why people refer to the Olcott headquarters as
"Wheaton"? Just because we are located in the town of Wheaton?
Most of Wheaton has nothing to do with the TS. Certainly the
City of Wheaton has no say over the use of our archives or
library or whatever!
Olcott Library & Research Center
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