Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of August our theme is school.


Erwin Straus at Black Mountain College. BMC Research Project. Series VII (Visual Materials). Box 91. Folder:North Carolina Division of Archives and History – Straus, Erwin.

Erwin Straus, a German-American philosopher and psychologist, taught at Black Mountain College from 1938 through 1945.  A German refugee fleeing from the growing anti-Semitism promulgated through Hitler’s rise to power, Erwin Straus and his wife, Gertrud (who also taught at Black Mountain College) were part of the growing population of refugee faculty.


A faculty meeting at Black Mountain College. From left to right: Robert Wunsch, Josef Albers, Heinrich Jalowetz, Theodore Dreier, Erwin Straus, unknown, Lawrence Kocher. Black Mountain College Records. Photographs. Folder 83.1.

With an emphasis in phenomenology (philosophical study of experience and consciousness) and neurology, Straus taught such courses as, “The Psychology of the Human World” and “Nicomachean Ethics.”  Erwin Straus was considered to be a serious teacher, a seeming rarity at Black Mountain College where professors were often known by their first or nicknames.  He was described by one student as, “… serious, humorless and on the extreme conservative side.”  Despite the somewhat reserved views held about him by the student population, he was influential in pioneering a holistic approach to medicine, treating the mind and body as a whole rather than just the individual symptoms.  Author of numerous books and articles, Straus’ works includes Language and Language Disturbances and On Obsession: A Clinical and Methodological Study.

One thought on “Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

  1. Kevin August

    Very interesting piece of history, thank you for sharing this. I actually wasn’t familiar with Erwin Straus before stumbling onto this but he seems like a very important person for the psychology field.

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