Bibring, Grete L. papers, 1899-1977

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Bibring, Grete L. papers, 1899-1977


Grete L. Bibring, (1899-1977), noted psychoanalyst, was one of the members of the "second generation" of Freudian Scholars, and played a leading role in the integration of psychiatry with general patient care.

She worked as a training analyst and instructor at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute from 1933-1938. In 1938, she and her family left Vienna for London with Sigmund and Anna Freud in advance of the Nazi takeover of Austria. They soon emigrated to Boston.

In Boston, Bibring's career soon flourished. She was appointed head of the department of psychiatry at the Beth Israel Hospital in 1946, the first woman head of a clinical department at Harvard Medical School. She worked in that role until 1955, at which time she was appointed psychiatrist- in-chief. She remained there until her retirement in 1965.

Bibring also held leadership roles in many other organizations and professional associations, serving as president of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and the American Psychoanalytic Association. In 1968 she was selected to be a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was affiliated with numerous other organizations, including the Radcliffe Institute, Brandeis University, and the International Psycho-Analytic Association, until her death in 1977.

Collection Items

Letter from Mary I. Bunting
Mary I. Bunting first approached Dr. Bibring to hold a seminar at Radcliffe College in 1965 shortly after her retirement. Each seminar that followed was a great success and the student wait list to enroll also grew.

Letter from Robert F. Rutherford
Dr. Bibring’s lectures at Simmons College’s School of Social Work were highly regarded by the faculty and students. She emphasized the importance of implementing psychoanalytic standards in all aspects of social case work.

Letter from Stanley Cobb
Dr. Bibring collaborated with Dr. Cobb while at Harvard Medical School and Dr. Zetzel on issues with child psychology.

Letter from Herrman L. Blumgart
Dr. Blumgart was the Physician-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital that requested Grete to develop and head the psychiatric department in the mid 1940s.

Immigration Identification Papers
The Bibring family and Grete

Medical Degree, University of Vienna
Dr. Bibring entered medical school in 1918 at the University of Vienna. Her interest in psychoanalysis deepened during these years and by graduation in 1924, she was already a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.

Marriage Certificate
Grete and Edward were married in December 1921 in the midst of their medical school program.

Diploma from the Gymnasium, Vienna
Dr. Bibring excelled in her studies at the Gymnasium. She was proficient in Greek and Latin and enjoyed intellectual intense environment.

Letter from Frederick Lehner
Most of the correspondence between Grete and her brother, Frederick (Fritz), continued in German, as did many of her family and friends.

Radiogram from Victoria Lehner
Dr. Bibring’s mother, Victoria, sent a radiogram shortly after the family had moved to Boston in 1941, while she remained in London.

Letter from Erik Erikson
She maintained many long term friendships with her associates throughout her life. Dr. Bibring became more dependent on these relationships as her health deteriorated and became more confined to her home.

Letter to Princess Marie Bonaparte
Dr. Bibring was a close colleague to one of the regal members of the psychoanalytic community, Princess Marie Bonaparte of Greece. They corresponded frequently and attended many of the International Psychoanalytic Association meetings together.

Grete Bibring Portrait Dedication at Beth Israel Hospital
Six months before Dr. Bibring’s retirement, Beth Israel Hospital honored Grete’s service by commissioning a portrait of her. During the hospital’s annual dinner, Dr. Helen Tartakoff delivered a speech during the unveiling of the…

Psychiatry and social work
According to Dr. Bibring, integrating psychiatric methods into all forms of patient care was essential for a successful recovery. The key was to understand both internal and external factors effecting personality traits and based upon that, determine…

The Educated Woman
Dr. Bibring constructed outlines of each Radcliffe seminar discussion that she directed. She also noted the group dynamic of the seminar by sketching the seating arrangement for each meeting.

Sympathy card from Malkah Notman
In 1959 Edward Bibring passed away from Parkinson’s disease. Many in the psychoanalytical and medical communities provided Grete with support and compassion.

Painting by Thomas Bibring
Dr. Bibring kept close correspondence with her sons George and Thomas while they attended school. She saved many of the letters and drawings that they sent throughout her lifetime.

Pregnancy Stamp
This stamp was used during the pregnancy projects that Dr. Bibring headed at Beth Israel. The symbol portrays a mother with her child.

Letter from George J. Mohr
Dr. Bibring participated in many professional activities such as the panel for "The Personal Analysis of the Candidate in its Relationship to his Supervised Analytical Work." She pushed for stricter standards in all training analysis, a testament of…

Letter from Phyllis Greenacre
From one former president of the American Psychoanalytic Association to another, Dr. Greenacre discussed the next International Psychoanalytic Congress to be held in London, 1953.

Letter from Anna Freud
Anna was a lifelong confidant of Grete’s. She traveled across the Atlantic often to visit with Grete and other friends. Anna proves to be a prominent figure in Grete’s collection of correspondence.
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