Scope and arrangement
Audiovisual material from this collection has been separated. Inquiries regarding audiovisual material in the collection may be directed to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audiovisual material will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The Howarth Gurdjieff Archive is arranged in four series:
Series I contains material compiled by the Gurdjieff Heritage Society and Dushka and Jessmin Howarth with the intent of organizing and preserving the integrity of the Gurdjieff Movements. Movements, or sacred dances, constitute an integral part of the Gurdjieff Work.
The Dushka and Jessmin Howarth Papers include correspondence, scrapbooks, Gurdjieff memorabilia, photographs, and other materials belonging to and collected by them.
Much of the correspondence is between Dushka and Jessmin Howarth from the late 1940s and early 1950s when Dushka was living in Europe and studying the Movements. The letters cover topics such as Jessmin's health and work in New York, Dushka's living arrangements and travels in Europe, and Gurdjieff's failing health. There are also many letters to Dushka in the weeks after Gurdjieff's death, describing the state of affairs among his followers in New York, and requesting reports on the situation in Europe. Later letters are remembrances about certain Movements, and Dushka's descriptions of her time performing and working on cruise ships in the 1960s and 1970s.
Dushka Howarth's correspondence from the 1980s to 2007 concerns the research, editing, and publication of It's Up To Ourselves as well as conversations about preserving the integrity of Movements and inquiries from Movement students and instructors about discrepancies in teaching they have experienced. These discussions lead to the formation of the Gurdjieff Heritage Society. Frequent correspondents include her agent Billie Biderman and Walter Driscoll, editor of a Gurdjieff bibliography. There is also correspondence and flyers relating to Howarth's membership and participation in the Gurdjieff Foundation, the Gurdjieff Heritage Society, and other related organizations. Gurdjieff Heritage Society material consists of original text files with website content as well as correspondence and photographs documenting the Society's collaboration with Gert-Jan Blom.
Outside of her exchanges with Dushka, Jessmin Howarth's other correspondence details life as a follower of Gurdjieff teachings. Some correspondence is outgoing only, as these letters were returned to Jessmin once she began working to reconstruct the Movements. Correspondence with Ethel Merston includes original letters, photocopies, and a notebook of transcribed letters in Jessmin's hand.
This series holds a small selection of correspondence from Bernard Metz and Elizabeth Gordon to others which was collected by the Howarths. Metz was a note-taker at many of Gurdjieff's early lectures. The letters from Gordon to Margaret Matthews date from 1924 to 1930 and were given to Jessmin Howarth by Margaret Matthews. Matthews and Gordon were both members of Gurdjieff's all-female Work group, "The Rope."
Other items include Jessmin and Dushka Howarth's passports, appointment books, and address books; and programs, photographs, and contracts from Dushka's time as a folk singer. Photographs include many images of Dushka Howarth as a child as well as reproductions of photographs of Gurdjieff and his followers. There is a set of labeled and mounted reproductions used for an unidentified exhibit in 2004. These photos depict Gurdjieff alongside his early followers. Gurdjieff memorabilia includes programs and posters from performances and lectures by Gurdjieff and others who transmitted and followed his Work.
Scrapbooks were given to Howarth by others and include a book that depicts the early group working in France, making costumes for the Movements, and performing in exhibitions from 1921 to 1924. A second scrapbook chronicles P.D. Ouspensky's 1910 trip to India. Most images are of buildings and scenic views.
Dushka Howarth's research files consist of internet printouts and photocopies of articles with annotations which she used when writing It's Up To Ourselves. Research was filed by subject (such as Fourth Way groups), or by individual (such as teachers Osha and John G. Bennett), though the bulk of the research was filed under "Gurdjieff." These files include copies of articles (primarily from the internet) documenting his life, his work, and his influence. Arranged alphabetically by file title.
Writings and publications consist of copies of articles, typescripts, and pamphlets collected by Dushka and Jessmin Howarth to preserve and share Gurdjieff research and drafts of It's Up To Ourselves. The files include memoirs from former Gurdjieff followers such as Olga de Hartmann and Joyce Collin-Smith, as well as contemporary writers' thoughts on the Gurdjieff methods and various film and theatre scripts about Gurdjieff's life. There are also transcripts of lectures by Gurdjieff and Alfred Orage. Published journals on Gurdjieff and other related spiritual research are here, the bulk of which are copies of the Gurdjieff International Review. Arranged alphabetically by author or journal title.