George Yeisley Rusk papers
Scope and Contents
The bulk of the collection consists of Rusk's published and unpublished writings on mainly philosophical and religious subjects. Included also are personal financial records, papers related to societies and organizations, research on a planned resident community in Columbia, Md., notes and recommendations from Rusk's tenure at the University of Baltimore, handwritten sermons, most likely from the 1920s, and a selection of writings related to the Socialist principles explored by Rusk in the 1930s. Overall, the collection offers an insight into Rusk's personal exploration into philosophical and religious subjects. Rusk's personal life is not well represented here. The collection does not include any papers after the mid-1970s, therefore, Rusk's work in the last period of his life is not represented in this collection. Establishing a general chronological order was made difficult because Rusk rarely dated any of his writings, although he was scrupulous about duplicating items.
- Creation: 1921-1974
- Rusk, George Yeisley, 1891-1982 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.
Biographical / Historical
George Yeisley Rusk was born in Baltimore, Md. in 1891. He was theologian, teacher, writer, philosopher, all supported by his life-long researches into philosophy, religion, and psychology. He often used his organizational abilities to form associations designed to accomodate his scope of scholarly interests. He attended public schools in Baltimore and later graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 1913. Rusk graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1916 and received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1922. He was named a fellow of Union Theological Seminary in 1920.
In the early 1920s, Rusk served as a minister of the York Beach Church, York Beach, Maine. In 1924, he taught philosophy and psychology of religion at Bangor Theological Seminary in Maine. He returned to Baltimore in 1926 and taught Biblical Literature at Goucher College. During 1929-1932, Rusk taught philosophy and psychology at Commonwealth College, Mena, Arkansas. In 1932, Rusk organized the School of Human Relations in New York City, an organization for adult education. Rusk returned to teaching at junior colleges in Morris County and Passaic County, New Jersey, 1933-1935.
After the 1930s, Rusk's career was less formalized, and he looked for areas where he could promote his personal philosophy through writings and participation in scholarly societies. His study of Gestalt thinking enabled him to develop what he described as "a methodology for the resolution of cultural conflicts." He described his method of thought in an article entitled "The Resolution of Cultural Conflicts," published March 1951 in the Indian journal, Abigla. He proposed that culture could be organized into elements with an assigned value. Contradictions in thought would be measured and eventually overcome progressively. Later Rusk began to integrate his philosophical and religious thought with psychic studies.
During the 1940s, Rusk sought out other like-minded scholars, philosophers, and scientists to form societies where common ideas and interests could be explored. Another basic premise of Rusk's work was that religion and contemporary culture could be integrated, and this resulted in the formation of the Society for Religious Culture begun in 1942. (This continued until 1948, possibly longer.) Other groups in which Rusk actively participated included The American Association of Scientific Workers, The International Science Forum, The Society for a Democratic Spiritual Culture, and The International Wider Religious Fellowship.
Rusk returned to academics (1946-1951) at the University of Baltimore where he taught literature and rhetoric. He formed the Know-Nothing Club, an independent group of faculty members who made recommendations for reform in university policy. Rusk's method of teaching sometimes conflicted with standard expectations in the English Department, and he was not re-appointed after 1951.
In the 1950s, Rusk began a study of psychic possibilities or what he described as the "interior world of experience." Rusk's own findings were outlined in Science and Cosmic Meaning, a volume published only in India. Once again, he planned an association to bring together other scientists for shared explorations. The Society for Psychic Studies was begun in 1955, and eventually Rusk hoped to incorporate this new association into a larger undertaking. From the early 1960s until the mid 1970s, Rusk planned for a Senior Research Institute (or Senior Resident Institute) where retired scholars could come together for discussion and continued research. Rusk envisioned a complex, fully serviced, where professional people, newly freed from academic responsibilities, would enjoy an environment conducive to creative thinking. He was able to interest the Rouse Company, developers of the planned community in Columbia, Md., in his proposal, but acquiring funding for non-profit housing proved difficult. There is no evidence that the Institute was ever realized.
Underlying much of Rusk's philosophy was the belief that problems in modern life and culture could be solved by using his method of logical reasoning blended with principles of Christian beliefs. Throughout his life, Rusk wrote extensively on these subjects, and many articles were published in philosophical and church-related journals including Philosophy of Science and the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (title changed in 2021 to Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science).
Rusk moved from Baltimore in 1972 and resided in Columbia, Md. George Yeisley Rusk died in 1982.
5.38 Cubic Feet (4 record center cartons, 1 letter size document box)
Language of Materials
George Yeisley Rusk was a theologian, philosopher, writer, and teacher. The bulk of the collection consists of Rusk's published and unpublished writings on mainly philosophical and religious subjects. Included also are personal financial records, papers related to societies and organizations, research on a planned resident community in Columbia, Md., notes and recommendations from Rusk's tenure at the University of Baltimore, handwritten sermons, most likely from the 1920s, and a selection of writings related to the Socialist principles explored by Rusk in the 1930s.
The collection as a whole has been artificially arranged into six series: Personal, Studies of Mine, Societies, Writings, Seminar, Social Sciences.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were a bequest to the University from George Yeisley Rusk in 1982.
Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in 1991. The collection of George Yeistley Rusk was received by the University in 1982. Formal processing of the collection was done in 1991. Some files were intact, but much of the material was stored loosely in document boxes. A printed "key" to Rusk's filing method was found, and it is apparent that this collection does not include all of the papers from his personal files. His files consisted of 17 classifications of which five are represented in this collection. Those five are Personal, Subjects of Mine, Societies, Seminar, and Social Sciences. Rusk grouped his files in categories with a Roman numeral designation as shown by the following examples: I Personal, X Societies, XIV Studies of Mine. Specific groupings have been retained.
Rachel Gattermeyer revised the biographical note in this finding aid in October 2023 to bring it into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.
- George Yeisley Rusk papers
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Special Collections Repository
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