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Velikovsky and paleontology
For those interested in obscure episodes in the history of
paleontology: the papers of I. Velikovsky are now accessible at
Princeton's Firestone Library. Some of the subject headings in the
archive are "Dinosaurs--Extinction" and "Geology--China," containing
geological and paleontological evidence collected to support his theory
that an ancient collision with a comet created a veil of dust that
caused widespread extinctions, etc. His books were boycotted and banned
by establishment scientists in the 1950s-60s, but apparently some
discoveries in later decades confirmed some of his conclusions.
An online description of the archive:
Here is the press release from Princeton:
Library acquires papers of scientist and author Velikovsky
by Ruth Stevens · Posted July 29, 2005
The papers of Russian-born American scientist and author Immanuel
Velikovsky have a new home in the Princeton University Library. His
daughter, Ruth Sharon of Princeton, has donated the papers for use by
Velikovsky, who lived from 1895 to 1979, is best known as the author of
a number of controversial books, primarily arguing that ancient myths,
legends and accounts of catastrophic events related in the Bible and
other texts have a basis in fact.
Velikovsky earned his M.D. degree from the University of Moscow in 1921
and lived in the 1920s and '30s with his family in Palestine, where he
pursued a specialization in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. He moved
to the United States in 1939 and began his research on the history of
Egypt, Greece and the Jewish past. He lived first in New York City and
later in Princeton.
Velikovsky is the author of "Worlds in Collision" (1950), "Ages in
Chaos" (1952), "Earth in Upheaval" (1955), "Oedipus and Akhnaton"
(1960), "Ramses II and His Time" (1978), "Peoples of the Sea" (1977)
and other controversial studies of ancient Egypt, Greece and Biblical
"Decades of bitter debate resulted from his controversial theories
about cosmological catastrophes, particularly in regard to the planet
Venus, and his interpretation of historical, geological and
paleontological evidence," said Don Skemer, curator of manuscripts in
the library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Harlow Shapley, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Carl Sagan and other members
of the American scientific establishment were among Velikovsky's
critics. The controversies over Velikovsky and publication of his work
have been the subject of several books, including Alfred De Grazia's
"The Velikovsky Affair: The Warfare of Science and Scientism" (1966)
and Donald Goldsmith's "Scientists Confront Velikovsky" (1977).
The Immanuel Velikovsky Papers comprise 156 boxes of published and
unpublished manuscripts and drafts, subject files, lectures, personal
and professional correspondence, and legal documents dating from the
1920s to the 1990s. The collection includes his extensive
correspondence with Horace Kallen, Ted Thackrey and other friends, as
well as selected letters from Albert Einstein, Helen Dukas, Sigmund
Freud, Carl Jung, Eugen Bleuler, Chaim Weitzmann, Harold Urey and other
scientists and academicians.
His papers also contain extensive correspondence with publishers and
readers. Among Velikovsky's manuscripts are selected typescript essays
annotated by Einstein, which later became chapters in Velikovsky’s
posthumously published book, "Stargazers and Gravediggers: Memoirs to
Worlds in Collision" (1983).
The Immanuel Velikovsky Papers are available for research use in the
library's manuscripts division in the Department of Rare Books and
Special Collections. An online description of the papers is available.
For more information about the papers, contact Skemer.