Anton T. Boisen collection, 1922-1965, undated.

Emory University

Pitts Theology Library

1531 Dickey Drive, Suite 560

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Boisen, Anton T. (Anton Theophilus), 1876-1965.
Title: Anton T. Boisen collection, 1922-1965, undated.
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 397
Extent: 1 cubic foot (3 boxes)
Abstract:Consists of writings, study materials, and case studies of Anton Boisen, founder of clinical pastoral training for ministers and theological students.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


[after identification of item(s)], Anton Boisen collection, Archives and Manuscript Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.


Processed by Anne Marie McLean, 2015; Brandon Wason, August 2016.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Anton Theophilus Boisen was born on October 28, 1876 in Bloomington, Indiana to Hermann and Elizabeth Louisa Wylie Boisen. Anton Boisen graduated from Bloomington High School in 1893 and attended Indiana University. After receiving his Bachelor's in Modern Languages in 1897, he taught French for several years in a Bloomington high school, but left to earn a Master's degree in Forestry from Yale University. While working as a forest assistant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Boisen was called to the ministry and enrolled in Union Theological Seminary, graduating in 1911.

After his graduation, Boisen served as a Presbyterian minister in rural parishes, a member of the YMCA Expeditionary Force, and supervisor of the rural survey of the Interchurch World Movement. Before and during his work in the ministry, Boisen experienced several psychotic episodes, and was eventually hospitalized in Westboro State Hospital for fifteen months. During his hospitalization, Boisen allegedly felt a call to reconcile religion and medicine, and began a master's program at Harvard, studying under Macfie Campbell at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital. Afterwards, Boisen served as chaplain for Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts and Elgin State Hospital in Illinois.

With the support of Richard Cabot, a colleague from whom he learned the value of studying mental health cases firsthand, Boisen established the first clinical group for pastoral education in 1925 at Worcester. Boisen and Cabot joined other colleagues five years later to form the Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students. Boisen urged his students to examine their patients in mental hospitals as "living human documents" who had the ability to shed light on the nature of the religious experience through pain and healing. As a result of his work, Boisen was revered as the chief founder of Clinical Pastoral Education in hospitals, prisons, and social agencies. He published several books highlighting mental health and the religious experience, one of which was an autobiography detailing his own psychotic episodes. He reflects on mental illness in a letter dated 12 May, 1959, stating that "mental illness is not always evil, but may be an attempt at reorganization which is closely related to religious experience."

Boisen continued to experience periods of mental illness and psychotic breakdowns during his career, which oftentimes interfered with his work. While he lost support for his chaplaincy at Westboro State Hospital, he remained chaplain and chaplain emeritus at Elgin State Hospital in Illinois from 1932 until his death in at the age of 88 on October 2, 1965.

Biographical Source: Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, E. B. Holifield, "Boisen, Anton," pages 104-105. Edited by Rodney J. Hunter. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains Anton Boisen's professional papers and publications during his career in clinical pastoral education. Biographical material contains Boisen's Curriculum Vitae, a memorial service program, and a timeline of Boisen's life. The bulk of the collection is an arrangement of case studies, theoretical and factual, as well as relevant diagnostic aids, personal testimonies, questionnaires, and papers by affiliates. There are also collections of Boisen's writings (both published and unpublished), as well as writings by others about Boisen, or relevant to his training.

Container List

Box Folder Content
1 1 Curriculum vitae, circa 1955
1 1 Memorial Service (photocopy), 1965
1 1 Timeline for Anton Boisen, undated
Case Studies
1 2 Case Analysis instructions and forms, undated
1 3 Case studies by others, 1955
1 4 Diagnostic Aids, undated
1 5 Group I: Reactions of Withdrawal and Surrender, undated
1 6 Group II: Reactions of Concealment, undated
1 7 Group III: Reactions of Diversion and Self-Assertion, undated
1 8 Group IV: Reactions of Despair, undated
1 9 Group V: Reactions of Panic and Upheaval, undated
1 10 Loose case studies A-B, undated
1 11 Loose case studies C-D, undated
1 12 Loose case studies E-J, undated
1 13 Loose case studies K-P, undated
1 14 Loose case studies R-Z, undated
2 1 Morbid Conscience and Personality Development (Two case studies), undated
2 2 Questionnaires, undated
2 3 Reactions of Delinquency (Three Case Studies), undated
2 4 Religious Leaders, A-F, undated
2 5 Religious Leaders, K-T, undated
2 6 The Religiously Eccentric (Three Case Studies), undated
2 7 Correspondence, 1934, 1959, undated
Loose Materials
2 8 Charts, lists, and tables, undated
2 9 Loose materials, undated
2 10 Sermon on Matthew 4:1, 1948 February 15
2 10 Sermon on Matthew 13:25 (Theme: Weeds), 1932 June 12
2 10 Sermon on Matthew 16:15-16, 1948 March 7
2 10 Sermon on Luke 23:34; 1 Corinthians 15:8 (Theme: The bridging of chasms), 1952 April 13
2 10 Sermon on John 3:5 (Theme: The beginnings of the spiritual life), undated
Writings, Published
2 11 "A Hymnal for Use in Mental Hospitals: Psychotherapeutic Considerations," 1948
2 11 "Clinical Experience for Theological Students," 1945
2 11 "Clinical Training for Theological Students," 1945 January
2 11 "Clinical Training in Theological Education: The Period of Beginnings," 1951 January
2 11 "Cooperative Inquiry in Religion," 1945 September - October
2 11 "Group Therapy: The Elgin Plan," 1954
2 11 "Ideas of Prophetic Mission," 1961 Spring
2 11 "Improving Protestant Worship in Metal Hospitals," 1942 October
2 11 "In Memoriam: Francis W. McPeek," 1959
2 11 "Inspiration in the Light of Psychopathology," 1960 October
2 11 "Onset in Acute Schizophrenia," 1947 May
2 11 "Religion and Hard Times," 1939 March
2 11 "Self-Expression," 1947 April
2 11 "The Challenge to our Seminaries," 1926 January
2 11 "The Holy Rollers Come to Town," 1939 January
2 11 "The Minister as Counselor," 1948
2 11 "The New Evangelism," 1935 March
2 11 "The Present Status of William James's Psychology of Religion," 1953
2 11 "The Problem of Values in the Light of Psychopathology," 1932 July
2 11 "The Service of Worship in a Mental Hospital: Its Therapeutic Significance," 1948
2 11 "The Study of Mental Disorders as a Basis for a Program of Moral and Religious Re-education," 1928 April
2 11 "The Therapeutic Significance of Anxiety," 1951 May
2 11 "Those Early Years in Clinical Training," 1960 October
2 11 "What War Does to Religion," 1945 Summer
2 11 with Richard L. Jenkins and Maurice Lorr, "Schizophrenic Ideation as Striving toward the Solution of Conflict," 1954 October
Writings, Unpublished
2 12 "Clinical Pastoral Training in Retrospect and Prospect," 1957
2 12 "Clinical Training in the Service of the Mentally Ill: A Beginning Course," 1946
2 12 "Comments by the Patient after Reading Dr. B's Presentation," undated
2 12 "The Christian View of Man in the Light of Clinical Experiences (outline)," 1950
2 12 "The Essentials of a Personality Study," undated
2 12 "An Experiment in Theological Education," 1935
2 12 "First Annual Report to the Chicago Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students," circa 1935
2 12 "Fritz A summary of F. Nietsche," undated
2 12 "Hymns of Hope and Courage," undated
2 12 "The Interrelationship of Mental Illness and Religious Experience," undated
2 12 "The Minister as Counselor (abstract)," undated
2 12 "A Notable Convert," 1922 July
2 13 "Religion and Mental Health: Collected Papers (edited by Boisen)," 1959
2 12 "Religion and Mental Health: References (annotated bibliography)," undated
2 12 "Religion and Personality Adjustments," undated
2 12 "A Service at the Holy Christian Church of the Apostolic Faith," undated
2 12 "Schizophrenic Thinking: Psychiatric Examination," undated
2 12 Synopsis of L. E. Hewitt and R. L. Jenkins, Fundamental Patterns of Maladjustment: The Dynamics of Their Origin, 1946, undated
2 12 "Tunes Used in Recent Standard Hymnals," circa 1940
2 12 "Two Points of View," undated
2 12 "Types of Dementia Praecox Classification of First Admissions for 1932 and 1933 as Determined by Illinois State Hospitals," undated
2 12 "An Unhappy Scientist" (Comments on Kempf, Edward J., Case A N 3 in Psychopathology), undated
Writings by Others about Anton Boisen
3 1 "Anton T. Boisen and the Origin of the Movement for the Clinical Training of Theological Students," 1951 January
3 1 Eastman, Fred, "Father of the Clinical Pastoral Movement," 1950 October
3 1 Hiltner, Seward, Review of Out of the Depth, undated
3 1 McPeek, Francis W., "On the 80th Birthday of the Reverend Dr. Anton T. Boisen," 1956
Writings by Others Used by Boisen
3 2 Beers, Clifford W., "An Abbreviated Account of 'A Mind that Found Itself': An Autobiography," undated
3 2 Bergson, Henri, "Mind and Body" (translated by A. T. Boisen), 1922, undated
3 2 Cabot, Richard C., "The Essentials of Case Records for Teaching Purposes," undated
3 2 Cabot, Richard C., "Vis Medicatrix Dei," undated
3 2 Campbell, C. M., "The Schizophrenic Type of Reaction," 1928
3 2 Freud, Sigmund, "Pscyhoanalytic Comments on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia" (translated and abstracted by A. T. Boisen), undated
3 2 Healy, William, "The Newer Psychiatry: Its Field -- Training for It," 1925
3 2 Hocking, W. E., "Religion per se" extracted from Human Nature and Its Re-Making, 1929
3 2 Hutchinson, Carl R. and Arthur E. Holt, "The Religion of Two Hundred Farmers of McHenry County, Illinois," undated
3 2 Hutchinson, Eliot Dole, "The Phenomenon of Insight in Relation to Religion," 1944
3 2 Marsh, L. Cody, "Group Treatment of the Psychoses," undated
3 2 Sullivan, Harry Stack, "The Relation of Onset to Outcome in Schizophrenia," 1931