Take Note

An exploration of note-taking in Harvard University Collections
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Interactive Exhibition

2. William James's Diary and Sketchbook

“A notebook used in Brazil"

William James

Brazil, 1865

The collection contains personal and professional correspondence of American philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910). Most of the letters are written by him, including over 1,300 to his wife Alice (1849-1922) and over 400 to his brother Henry (1843-1916). The collection further includes compositions including manuscripts, drafts, and notes on psychology, philosophy, religion, and Herbert Spencer (1820-1903); as well as addresses, lectures, articles, diaries, 1865-1910 (with gaps), address books and notebooks with reading lists, sketches, and notes James took as a student. The collection also contains correspondence of James's parents and wife, early James family papers, daguerreotypes and photographs of the James family, an account book, scrapbooks, clippings, and miscellaneous material. Further included are manuscripts by others, including student notes from his classes, and articles on his work; letters to Ralph Barton Perry (1876-1957) from James's students and correspondence concerning Perry’s The Thought and Character of William James(1935); correspondence of Henry James III (1879-1947) in his search for William James letters; and printed material about William James. Also included are letters from Mary Temple (1845-1870) to John Chipman Gray (1793-1881).

These pages are from a diary kept by James while he was in Brazil in his early 20s. Advice to keep a record of one's experiences while travelling has a long history that extends back to the early modern period.

. MS Am 1092.9 (4498).
HOLLIS Catalog: 000602466
William James, diaries, doodles, drawings



ryanski1@aol.com's picture
Submitted by ryanski1@aol.com on

William James's notes from Brazil are imaginative and visually helpful for anyone trying to relive and envision the author's account of an experience in a foreign country. James's version of Brazil is personal but rooted in the keeping of a diary, something culturally relevant to the author's North American background where he was educated and modern psychology, philosophy, religion existed and studied. A diary is useful in this aspect because it sharpens the minds of the note taker and the reader because William James is attempting for anyone interested in reading his diary to understand for themselves as well as documenting his life from his perspective.

Brendan Ryan

The Brendan Ryan Company
Houston, Texas

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