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Anton T. Boisen papers

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Creator: Boisen, Anton T. (Anton Theophilus), 1876-1965

Date: 1915 - 1965 (bulk 1930s-1940s)

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Menninger Historic Psychiatry Coll., Boisen, Box 1

Unit ID: 223252

Restrictions: Portions may be restricted: individually identifiable patient information.

Abstract: Boisen's papers consist of thorough case histories of patients he saw in the 1920s/1930s; 1933-1934 newsletters from the Elgin State Hospital; some incoming and outgoing correspondence, such as with Seward Hiltner; hand-illustrated poetry written by various individuals (none of them Boisen); manuscripts, reprints, and outlines and course lectures by Boisen, dating from the 1920s-1950s; annual reports to the directors of the Chicago Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students, 1933-1935; information related to Boisen's time in Waubaunsee, Kansas in the 1910s and to the Congregational church located there; memorials after Boisen's death in 1965; and some other miscellaneous materials.

Major topics found in Boisen's manuscripts and article reprints include psychology of religion, clinical training and religion, various psychiatric illnesses (including schizophrenia), war and religion, and similar topics. While the materials span much of Boisen's adulthood, the bulk of his papers date from the 1930s and 1940s.

Summary: These papers include correspondence with Professor Seward Hiltner of Princeton Theological School, hand-illustrated poetry written by various individuals, newsletters from the Elgin State Hospital, manuscripts, and course lectures. Boisen spent time in Wabaunsee, Kansas while surveying rural churches, including the Congregational Church. Boisen was secretary of the Wabaunsee Neighborhood Association and wrote about the "Health Conditions in the Wabaunsee Community." Also included are annual reports (1933-1935) to the directors of the Chicago Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students which include several photographs of students at the Elgin State Hospital, where Boisen was the chaplain from 1932-1954.

Space Required/Quantity: 0.75 cubic feet

Title (Main title): Anton T. Boisen papers

Titles (Other):

  • Clinical pastoral education

Part of: Menninger Foundation Archives. Historic Psychiatry sub-collection.


Biog. Sketch (Full): Anton Theophilus Boisen was born on 28 October 1876 to Hermann and Elizabeth Louisa Wylie Boisen, the first of two children. His father, a German immigrant to the United States from Schleswig-Holstein, taught first at DePauw University and then Indiana University - Bloomington. After ten years at IU, he moved his family to the East Coast, teaching first in Boston and then Princeton, New Jersey before dying of a heart attack at the age of 38.

Elizabeth Boisen's family had close ties to Indiana University. Her father Theophilus Wylie was a cousin of the Reverend Dr. Andrew Wylie, the first president of Indiana College/Academy. Theophilus moved his family to Indiana just over 20 years after it attained statehood, in 1837, and taught for nearly 50 years at IU. Elizabeth herself was one of the first women to enroll at IU, later earning her degree in psychology in 1900 from the same university. She taught for a year in the early 1870s at the University of Missouri, leaving in order to marry Hermann Boisen. When Elizabeth's husband Hermann died in New Jersey, she moved her children back to Bloomington to live with her parents.

Anton Boisen graduated from Bloomington High School in 1893 and attended IU, receiving his bachelors in Modern Languages in 1897. While teaching French for a couple years in a Bloomington high school, he became interested in the writings of William James.

Boisen earned a masters degree in forestry from Yale University in 1905. For the following three years, until 1908, he was a forest assistant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He then enrolled in the Union Seminary in New York City, having felt a call to the ministry, and received a bachelors of ministry in 1911. Studying with Dr. George Albert Cole, Boisen began developing a view of the psychology of religion grounded in both religion and human behavior.

In the following years, Boisen served as both a Presbyterian and a Congregational pastor (including at the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in Waubaunsee, Kansas), was chaplain at the Iowa State University campus, and served with the YMCA in France for two years during WWI. He also spent some time researching rural pastorates in Kansas and Maine as a sociological investigator for the Presbyterian Home Board of Missions and earned a masters degree from Harvard. He had a period of mental instability, spending time in two different mental institutions.

Boisen began work at various psychiatric hospitals, becoming the first chaplain at a mental hospital in 1924. He worked first briefly with the Boston Psychiatric Hospital and then, with the help of Dr. Richard Cabot, the Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts, and later at the Elgin State Hospital in Illinois. He also began teaching again, establishing the first program in clinical pastoral training in the United States, and helped found the Council for Clinical Training. It was during this time he began his true career as a founder of the clinical pastoral education (CPE) movement.

Anton T. Boisen died in Elgin, Illinois at the age of 88 on October 2, 1965.

Scope and Content

Portions of Collection Separately Described:

Portions of Collection Not Separately Described:

  1. Case History--1920 Folder 1 (Box 1, folder 1)
  2. Case History--1920 Folder 2 (Box 1, folder 2)
  3. Correspondence, 1943-1966 (Box 1, folder 3)
  4. Correspondence Hiltner and Boisen, 1964-1965 (Box 1, folder 4)
  5. Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students Report, 1933 (Box 1, folder 5)
  6. Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students Report, 1934 (Box 1, folder 6)
  7. Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students Report, 1935 (Box 1, folder 7)
  8. Crumbine, S.J., 1915 (Box 1, folder 8)
  9. Mounted clipping from the Capital 2/15/64 showing WCM and KAM accepting articles from the Beecher? (Box 1, folder 9)
  10. Health Conditions in the Wabaunsee Community (Box 1, folder 10)
More components


Locator Contents
078-02-02-01 to 078-02-02-02   

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials: Anton Boisen Photograph collection, Wylie House Museum, Bloomington (Ind).

Index Terms


    Chicago Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students -- History
    Congregational Christian Community Church (Wabaunsee, Kan.) -- History
    Wabaunsee (Kan.) -- History
    Boisen, Anton T. (Anton Theophilus), 1876-1965 -- Archives
    Boisen, Anton T. (Anton Theophilus), 1876-1965 -- Manuscripts
    Chaplains, Hospital -- Illinois
    Psychiatry and religion
    Psychology and religion

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Organizations/Corporations. Menninger Foundation Archives. Historic Psychiatry. Individuals. Anton Boisen.

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: Portions may be restricted: individually identifiable patient information.