Collection ID: 9503422

Collection context


Schweitzer, Albert, 1875-1965
Albert Schweitzer was a medical missionary in Lambaréné, Africa and was renowned for his ideas on theology, philosophy, music, ethics, and nuclear war. The collection contains Schweitzer's lecture on Goethe given at the International Goethe Convocation in 1949 (on two vinyl records), as well as a record booklet of the Albert Schweitzer International Convocation in 1966.
1.75 linear feet and 1.75 linear feet; 1 OS box and 1 manuscript box
English , German .
Preferred citation:

Item description, MRL1: Albert Schweitzer papers, 1949; 1966, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.


Scope and Content:

This collection contains a lecture in German titled "Goethe: His Personality and Work" given by Schweitzer in July 1949 at the International Goethe Convocation in Aspen, Colorado (this was the only time Schweitzer ever visited the United States). The lecture is recorded on two vinyl 78rpm records, with an introduction by G. A. Borgese and translation by Thornton Wilder. This collection also contains a booklet from the Albert Schweitzer International Convocation held in Aspen in May 1966. The convocation continued the work that began with Schweitzer's visit to the United States in 1949, and was divided into seven sessions with multiple scholars discussing topics including Schweitzer's humanitarian contributions, his contributions to music and the arts, and his contributions to theology and philosophy.

Biographical / Historical:

Albert Schweitzer was born to Louis and Adele Schillinger Schweitzer on January 14, 1875 in Kaysersberg, Alsace, then part of Germany. From an early age, he was an accomplished organist. He obtained his D. Philosophy in 1899 from the University of Strasbourg and was licensed in theology in 1900. Schweitzer endeavored to be a medical missionary, and began the study of medicine in 1905 at the University of Strasbourg. He received his medical degree in 1911. In 1912, Schweitzer married Hélène Bresslau. Together they went to Africa and established a hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon in 1913. Hélène and Albert became prisoners of war in 1914 during World War One and returned to Europe in 1918. Albert resumed work in Africa in 1924 and spent the majority of the rest of his life there. In 1952, Albert was awarded the Nobel Prize. He used the money received with the prize to expand the hospital and establish a leper colony in Lambaréné. Along with medicine, theology, philosophy and music, Schweitzer was also outspoken against the dangers of nuclear war and nuclear testing, and was also a prolific writer. Notable works include Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung (The Quest of the Historical Jesus); a study on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach; The Decay and Restoration of Civilization; and Civilization and Ethics. Albert Schweitzer died in 1965 and is buried in Lambaréné.

Acquisition information:
Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), the lecture records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976. The convocation booklet was donated by Laura Person in January 1976.
Processing information:

Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. The finding aid was created by Brigette C. Kamsler in 2011, reviewed and updated by Kamsler in 2013 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2020.


This collection is arranged in one chronological series.

Physical / technical requirements:

This collection contains materials to which access may be limited depending on availability of appropriate equipment. Please consult the detailed contents list and contact the archives for details.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard



This collection is open for research.

Onsite storage.


Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.


Item description, MRL1: Albert Schweitzer papers, 1949; 1966, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Union Theological Seminary
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