Wednesday, August 24, 2011

UW Special Collections & the Solomon Katz Papers

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal

It's not easy finding material on Edith Buxbaum. When she died in 1982, helpful folks went  to her house on Upland Terrace to clean it out, tossing documents that may have made a biographer's job easier.  Even the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, which houses the Edith Buxbaum Library, has little information on its co-founder; but it has offered me useful photos. In the undated photo below, taken at a fundraiser for a scaled-fee children's clinic, Buxbaum sits in the foreground looking at Dr. Lawrence Schwartz whom I had the pleasure of interviewing, in the mid-1990s, on at least three occasions.

Courtesy The Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (SPSI)
Since material on Dr. Buxbaum is thin, where does one go for archival holdings? One such place is the Special Collections division of the University of Washington's Suzzallo Library. It houses papers of members of local institutional Boards, including those of Solomon Katz, a history professor and later a provost of the university. He was on the Board of the Ryther Child Center where Buxbaum was a psychiatric consultant. (Note: Buxbaum was not a psychiatrist. She was a lay psychoanalyst who studied with Anna Freud after earning a Ph.D. In history from the University of Vienna, 1925).
Anna Freud

Solomon Katz's papers at the University of Washington, Special Collections, include materials he gathered while carrying out his duties as a Ryther Board member. Documents include a history of Ryther and its founder Mother Ryther; By-Laws; Minutes; Board meetings (with some restrictions); Correspondence from Director Lillian Johnson, Thomas P. Gallagher and other Ryther luminaries.

Katz's papers include a project report on the Ryther Central Area School (22nd and E. Union), a Black Dignity newsletter published by kids from the school; fundraising activities; reports on "Explorations into possible affiliations with community mental health centers;" Locations where board meetings were held, including the Men's University Club (1004 Boren Ave) and the Women's University Club (1105 6th Ave)

The papers include staff lists which mention  Dr. Frank Bobbitt and Dr. Edith Buxbaum as "Consulting Psychiatrists." They contain information on funding agencies, including the United Way of King County and the United Good Neighbors, and, for my purpose especially, primary sources connected with "Project Prevention," which Buxbaum was integrally involved with.  All this and more in one file folder marked "Katz - Subgroup - 1966-72."

Ryther children, circa 1946
Courtesy Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)


Susan Sodergren, MSW, a colleague and former student of Buxbaum's in Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute's Child Therapy Program, directed Project Prevention.     
Ryther children, circa 1946
Courtesy Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)

Sodergren writes: "Prevention is the term used, not in the sense of medical prophylaxis or inoculation, but rather in the sense that a disturbed relationship can be interrupted and prevented from getting worse or becoming chronic." 

(Source: HELP For the Troubled Parent and Very Young Child"  p. 2 of brochure, University of Washington, Special Collections, Solomon Katz papers, "Subgroup: Ryther Child Center (Katz - Board of Directors) 1966-72.")

Thanks to David Bird, M.S.W. of Ryther who gave me the  subtitle "She Led with Her Mind," in my 2003 interview with him.

I'll write more on "Project Prevention" in a subsequent blog.
If you have information on Dr. Edith Buxbaum that you would like to share, please email me at