When John Bennett died in 1974, he had a mass of papers gathered over a period of more than 50 years. His widow Elizabeth inherited all his private and professional papers but did not have the capability or the space to put them into order, and they were conveyed to Claymont in West Virginia, where Susan Thompson and Bob Gerber acted as curators. After Elizabeth’s death, these were returned to the family and expertly filed and cataloged by Susan Thompson. Since that time, the archive has been greatly enlarged to include papers donated by former pupils and friends and bequeathed after the death of supporters.
The archive is made up of papers falling generally into one of three categories: the personal papers, letters, notebooks, diaries, photographs and other ephemera; secondly, typed and printed papers relating to Bennett’s professional life between 1921 and 1952; and thirdly, papers relating to the work. This last category is divided into (1) papers of an administrative nature relating to the organization and scheduling of study groups, financial and legal documents of the Institute; (2) notes and reports written by other people, but relating to Bennett’s work; and lastly, (3) papers written by Bennett and transcriptions his oral presentations. This last group mainly concerns us here.
There are several hundred pages of typed reports of meetings and seminars dating from 1941 when groups separated from Ouspensky’s groups met, but which still followed the rules laid down by Ouspensky, through the 1950s when large seminars were held at Coombe Springs and public lectures held in London, all the way up to the time of Bennett’s death, when talks were recorded live at Sherborne House, and also groups large and small in London. No recordings or notes were kept of the very small groups meeting in the last year of Bennett’s life.
The objective of the J.G. Bennett Foundation is to make all of this material available to serious students, and we are continually working to prepare material that is suitable for publication. This does not include the private letters and papers unless a definite reason exists for sharing them. Some transcripts of Seminars run to hundreds of typed pages, are not suitable for scanning and must be manually transcribed and edited. This work is ongoing. Priority is given to the publication of Bennett’s books which are either out of print require other work.
We will continue to announce new and revised publications.
Supporters of the J.G. Bennett Foundation who have papers suitable to be included in the archive are encouraged to contact us and are assured that such papers will be preserved and cataloged.