Archiving Preservation Project

Paul Brunton was a pioneer in developing a living philosophy of spiritual wisdom that provides a complete world view. A leading writer and researcher, he became known worldwide as an authority on Eastern spirituality, mysticism, and philosophy. Besides the books published during his lifetime, which sold approximately 2,000,000 copies in over 20 languages, Paul Brunton left a large literary and personal legacy of unpublished original writings, letters, photos, and other invaluable materials. Preserving PB’s writings both physically and digitally for future generations has been one of the major PBPF tasks.

The Complete Archives of Paul Brunton, Now Available Online at www.PBarchives.org


We are thrilled to announce that the complete digital archives of PB are now available for you to browse and study from the convenience of your computer, tablet, and smart phone! The archive is now available to the public in both the physical original and online due to many years of effort by PBPF archivist Timothy Smith and his staff. In 2018, Cornell University acquired the physical collection of original documents which are now available to read in Cornell’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (Carl A. Kroch Library) on campus. The digital archive contains these original documents as well as a text searchable version of most of the files! There are five major series in The Archives of Paul Brunton to explore online: Philosophic writings; Biographical Materials; Letters; Visual Media; PB’s Travel Library. Read the Fall 2021 PBPF Newsletter which gives an overview of the online PB Archives.

The Paul Brunton Archive Delivered to Cornell University's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (Carl A. Kroch Library)


In November, 2018, the physical papers were delivered to Cornell. Cornell University is ideal because it offers its resources to the general public and is very supportive of online databases. Its climate-controlled facility can best ensure the long-term preservation of the original papers so that Paul Brunton’s writings and research can be studied for generations to come. (Read PB's original archival documents at Cornell University's Kroch Library. By appointment only due to covid restrictions.)

The Foundation is grateful for the many years of dedicated effort by Timothy Smith (the former PBPF Archival Chair), the great archival staff ho brought this project to completion (a special thanks to Lydia Dempsey, project manager), the help of volunteers, and the generous support of donors. Working with Timothy, the PBPF archival staff presently includes: Hannah Sumner.

There are six broad groupings within the collection:

Original Writings

(almost 25,000 pages)

The first group is PB’s own writings, which are primarily philosophic or mystical in nature. These original writings are without a doubt the material that is most important for students of spiritual philosophy.

“I have written down what I have learned and discovered over the many years of my life; if these ideas are helpful to you, you are welcome to them—but do not make the mistake of calling me a guru. We must all learn to think for ourselves in the end, so these words can only be a guide to your own work.” –PB

By and large PB wrote what he called “paras”—often a mere sentence or two, more rarely a paragraph. He wrote these down as quickly as they came to him, on whatever lay at hand. Some material was written in little notebooks or on free note-pads handed out by hotels; a lot was written in the margins of magazines, newspapers, even tickets to the opera! At regular intervals PB sent these paper slips to an assistant who typed and put them into one of the 28 categories that he had devised to organize the various aspects of spiritual life.

Letters

(11,872 pages)

The second group is PB’s correspondence. This largely consists of letters written to PB with an outstanding exception: his letters to his son Kenneth Hurst. The correspondence with Kenneth runs from 1930 right through to the end of his life. In addition, we have a much larger collection of correspondence gathered together as “Readers’ Letters” which includes some very remarkable correspondents.

Biographical and Secondary Material

(almost 5,000 pages)

The journals of Zohmah Charlot (a secretary from 1930s), Ed McKeown, and Timothy Smith from 1979 and 1980 are also in this group. We also have published articles, official documents, publication materials, and other ephemera, which provide a good deal of the biographical knowledge we have of PB.

Visual Media

(3,950 images)

The earliest photos were taken by PB during his travels, the later ones are of PB taken by various visitors. The early images show several temples in considerably better shape at the time PB visited them than they are at present—this is particularly true of his visits to Egypt, Angkor Wat and Tibet.

Paul Brunton's Travel Library

(271 works in 75 volumes)

The group is a set of books and articles (mostly from the 1930s and 1940s) that PB always had with him, even in the remote reaches of the Himalayas and the unpopulated deserts of Egypt. Since much of his transportation to these regions was by donkey, he removed any unnecessary pages from the books and rebound several books as a single compact volume, to lighten the donkey’s load. This collection is comprised largely of scholarly works on Hinduism, Buddhism, and contemporary Western Thought.

Unscanned Clips

(13 linear feet)

The unscanned clips are a massive collection of newspaper clippings that PB saved, and in many cases annotated. These give a picture of the world that PB was living in, and how the cultures of the time viewed philosophy and spirituality.

Kroch Library Listing of the Physical Collection


Here is the Kroch Library's online listing of the numerous boxes in the Paul Brunton Archives and their contents. These can be explored in person in a special reading room at the library.



TO DONATE: If you would be particularly interested in making a donation toward this project, please contact us, and we will be more than happy to discuss our plans in further detail with you.

Archiving Committee

Board Chair: Tom Marino
Members:   Lisa Berardino, Louis DeSarno, Barbara Plaisted, Cleta Rudolph