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Faculty facts and data 2012/2013

The Janet Donation

A New Archive Collection
for the Bibliothèque générale
Sarah Rey et Anne Chatellier
p. 83

Notes de la rédaction

Source: La lettre, no. 37, December 2013

Texte intégral

1Bibliothèque générale’s collections and the Collège’s archives were recently enriched by a large archive and book collection bequeathed by Mrs Noëlle Janet, the grand-daughter of Pierre Janet, Professor of Experimental and Comparative Psychology at the Collège de France from 1902 to 1934.

2This donation, which the Faculty accepted on 30 June 2013, completes the Collège’s existing Janet collection, comprised essentially of books, but also of administrative and scientific archives.

3The Janet collection bears witness to a time when psych­ology was emerging as a discipline in its own right, at the interface of philosophy and medicine. Pierre Janet (1859-1947) was a philosopher by training, a PhD graduate of the École normale supérieure, who became a physician at the age of 34 and was a follower of Jean-Martin Charcot. He started his career as a philosophy professor in Le Havre, where he studied the “lunatics”. He drew on the numerous findings of this research for his PhD thesis on psychological automatism: L’automatisme psychologique (1889). This was the start of his highly prolific work, fuelled by his teaching at the Collège de France. Pierre Janet authored some one hundred studies, including Névroses et idées fixes (1898), De l’angoisse à l’extase (1926­1928) and L’amour et la haine (1932). In France, his books have recently made a comeback. Admirers of his work see him as an equal of Sigmund Freud, of whom they claim he was a precursor. However Janet’s theories differ from those of Freud in many respects, particularly concerning the treatment of hysteria and neuroses, the role of sexuality, and the definition of the unconscious, which Janet referred to as the “subconscious”. He also founded the Société de psychologie in 1901 and the Journal de psychologie normale et pathologique in 1904. His candidacy for the Chair of Experimental and Comparative Psychology at the Collège de France was presented and supported by Henri Bergson.

4The archives given by Mrs Janet include 98 photographs, representing the scholar in personal and academic settings, a series of newspaper clippings relating to Pierre Janet’s scientific activity, and family correspondence, particularly a set of 61 letters from Janet to his parents from his days as a young medical student. Noëlle Janet’s donation also includes several books by her grandfather which were recently republished by L’Harmattan, and which complete the Bibliothèque générale’s collections. Finally, the highlight of this donation, which con­siderably expands the Collège’s existing Janet collection, is a very interesting unpublished typescript entitled “Croyances”, written by Janet during the Second World War and which will likely soon be published.

The books of the Janet collection are available for consultation­ at the Bibliothèque générale (the list is available from the libraries’ catalogue at­-de-­, along with the scientific archives, described in Salamandre at­ (> Pierre Janet)

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Sarah Rey et Anne Chatellier, « The Janet Donation », La lettre du Collège de France, 8 | 2014, 83.

Référence électronique

Sarah Rey et Anne Chatellier, « The Janet Donation », La lettre du Collège de France [En ligne], 8 | mars 2014, mis en ligne le 12 août 2015, consulté le 23 janvier 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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Sarah Rey

Bibliothèque générale

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Anne Chatellier

Head of the Direction des réseaux et partenariats documentaires

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