Charlotte Selver
Charlotte Selver

Charlotte Selver Oral History and Book Project
By Stefan Laeng-Gilliatt

Project Outline

Updated on February 26, 2010

This project will result in two "products":
1. Biography/Book of Charlotte Selver.
2. Oral History of interviews with students, colleagues, family.

Some of this material will be published in audio and written form on this web site as the project progresses and some will also be made available to the Sensory Awareness Foundation for its newsletter.

It expect that the project will take about 5 years to complete. The goal for the first three years is to conduct all the interviews and do most of the research necessary. A solid draft of the book can be expected after 4 years. The actual length of time it will take to complete the project depends on the amount of money raised. This estimate is based on raising $60,000 per year. It will take longer if less money can be raised.

Preliminary research:

  • Locating and interviewing family, friends, peers and students.
    Ask for their history and experiences with Charlotte and their memories of stories Charlotte told about her life. This “Oral History” part of the project will not only be a vital source of information for the book; it will also be a collection of stories in its own right, by people who have been deeply touched by Charlotte and her work. This is the most urgent step as many of these people are old and may not be available for interviews much longer.
  • Transcribe interviews I made with Charlotte (about 25 hrs of audio tape). A big part of these interviews was going through her vast collection of photographs and through her appointment books from 1938 through almost the end of her life, day by day. This material will be a great foundation for further research.
  • Search video and audio tape library for stories by Charlotte.
  • Local research in places she lived and taught:
    Early years: Ruhrort, Duisburg, Munich, Berlin, Leipzig, etc.
    Middle years: East Coast, Mexico, California, etc.
    Late years: California, Mexico, Western Europe, etc.
  • Archival research (Charlotte Selver’s papers are archived at UCSB library’s Humanistic Psychology Archives)
  • Historical background: “The times of ….”
    Political and cultural background, human potential movement, etc.
  • Training, teachers, important connections/collaborators
    for example: Bode, Medau, Wigman / Gindler, Jacoby / Fromm, Perls, Watts

Writing the book:
Initial working structure and themes.
This is like the scaffolding, a flexible structure to hold on to in the beginning stages. The actual structure of the book may change as it comes to life.

Part 1: Germany / 1901 – 1938

  1. Childhood
  2. Adolescence
  3. The Formative Years: Music, Photography, Movement
  4. Early Teaching
  5. First Marriage: Heinrich Selver
  6. Gindler / Jacoby
  7. Beginning of Hearing Loss
  8. Leipzig
  9. Berlin
  10. Emigration

Part 2: USA / 1938 - 2003

1938 – 1944

  1. Starting over in NYC
  2. Perseverance: Establishing an unknown practice
  3. “Today I Met My Brother”: Erich Fromm

1945 – 1961

  1. Reaching out to Germany
  2. Expansion: Fromm / Mexico, Perls, Watts / California
  3. Studying with Gindler and Jacoby again
  4. Alan Watts
  5. Success and Discord (Gindler/Jacoby conflict)
  6. The First Foundation: Charsel Foundation

1962 – 1970

  1. Second Marriage: Charles Brooks
  2. Expanding to California (Denison / Watts)
  3. Esalen
  4. Monhegan
  5. San Francisco Zen Center
  6. The Human Potential Movement
  7. Traveling and Teaching
  8. Mary Alice Roche

1971 – 1991

  1. Sensory Awareness Foundation
  2. Moving to California
  3. La Casa de Maria
  4. A Book – and other Publication Projects
  5. Living in Big Sur
  6. The Long Term Study Groups
  7. Sensory Awareness Leaders Guild
  8. More Study Groups
  9. Teaching in Europe again
  10. Recognition in the Field
  11. Muir Beach
  12. Green Gulch
  13. Charles Brooks’ Death

1992 – 2003

  1. No Retirement
  2. Care Givers
  3. A long Life Ending

Charlotte Selver Oral History and Book Project
Pathways of Sensory Awareness LLC
PO Box 185, Hancock, NH 03449, USA
stelaeng [at] / Tel.: (603) 525-7289