The New Atlantis Foundation Dimitrije Mitrinović Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection includes working and personal papers of Dimitrije Mitrinović - namely published and unpublished writings, including correspondence, lectures, articles and notes. There are papers relating to his Yugoslav activism, interest in music and art, involvement in the Blutbund (with Wassily Kandinsky), alongside material relating to Mitrinović’s death and will, letters of condolence and the reminiscences of his friends and family. There are also papers created and assembled as part of the research process in preparation for biographies of Mitrinović.

The collection also includes the records created by members of Mitrinović’s circle, and members of the Adler Society, the New Europe Group, New Britain Movement, House of Industry League, Anthropo-Femina of the New Atlantis (and other women’s groups established by Mitrinović), and the New Atlantis Foundation. This material includes administrative papers, records of group events, promotional material, lecture and study notes, correspondence, articles and publications, and notes. In some cases there are records of sub-groups. The New Atlantis Foundation papers include records relating to the Mitrinović Library and Archive, before they were donated to the Universities of Belgrade and Bradford.

The Archive includes material gathered as study resources for Mitrinović and his followers. This includes copies of published works by various authors heavily annotated and altered by Mitrinović, studies of specific authors and their works and subject files created by the group.

Finally, the collection includes some photographs, many of which are of Mitrinović himself, and a few personal objects belonging to him.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dimitrije Mitrinović (1887-1953) was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a young man he took a leading part in his country’s struggle for independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the movement to create a united Yugoslavia. Having studied art history in Munich, he came to England in 1914 fleeing the onset of the First World War and took up a position with the Serbian Legation in London. Mitrinović moved in influential cultural circles both on the Continent and in England. Between the wars he was a major contributor to the radical journal The New Age, writing a column on “World Affairs” under the pseudonym M.M. Cosmoi. The column was not universally popular with readers, and editor A.R. Orage received letters complaining about Mitrinović’s difficult style and levelling accusations of anti-Semitism at him. Orage stood by “Cosmoi”, printing a defence of the controversial journalist.

Early on after coming to England, Mitrinović also set himself up as a private philosophy teacher, and came to live and hold teaching sessions in London’s Bloomsbury. He held that there was a need for a new stage in human development. This required the recognition of the essential complementary functions in the world of different ethnic, religious and other groups, the need for guidance through intermediation to solve conflicts in society, and the need for personal change to develop individuals as the mediators of society. Re-evaluation of the wisdom of the past meant the investigation of works from all periods of history on religion, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and the arts. To this end he began to gather a significant library, with thousands of works that he annotated and lent to his students.

In 1927, Mitrinović founded the English Branch of the International Society for Individual Psychology (the Adler Society), lecturing on psychology and related subjects. The desire of the group to derive practical results from their psychological studies, and association with like-minded radical groups, led to the formation firstly of the Chandos Group, and subsequently, the New Europe Group in 1931. This political activity led to a schism firstly with the Group’s Medical Section, and subsequently with the International Society for Individual Psychology. Alfred Adler himself finally felt compelled to expel Mitrinović’s group from the Society.

The New Europe Group continued to flourish. Its members believed in greater devolution of political power within a federal Europe, alongside a re-evaluation of European culture. From this proceeded the New Britain Movement in 1932, with proposals for national changes in society, federation and devolution, reform of the financial system, workers’ control in industry through National Guilds, and a House of Industry and House of Culture to supplement the House of Commons. The movement was supported by the journal New Britain and its successor The Eleventh Hour Bulletin.

Despite great popularity, the New Britain Movement dissolved in 1934 -1935 but the New Europe Group continued to be active into the 1950s. Its cultural programme, the Renaissance Club, held lectures and concerts. Active members of the group included the first President, Sir Patrick Geddes, H.C. Rutherford, Violet MacDermot, Valerie Cooper, Ellen Mayne, Philip Mairet, David Shillan, and the Nobel prize-winning chemist Frederick Soddy.

From the late 1930s Mitrinović established, or encouraged the creation of, various organisations for women including the Boadicea Club, Anthropo-Femina of the New Atlantis and the New Boadicea Club from around 1938 and into the war years. Members seem to have organised lectures and studied what they termed “feminology”, the study of women. There was at least one counterpart male group, the Caractacus Club, created as a mirror of Boadicea, but unfortunately far fewer records of any male group survive. Until the post-war years at least, it seems that women were the main record-keepers in Mitrinović’s circle, and may have acted early on to retain and organise Mitrinović’s personal and working papers too.

With the exception of some of the New Europe Group’s work, Mitrinović’s activities became more inward-focussed. The groups for men and women were largely made up of the same inner group of people who had come to study with Mitrinović previously or had joined another one of his organisations but become further involved. This core circle entered into what might be termed an intentional community, bound to each by a “Personal Alliance” and engaging in the spiritual and personal development of each member and the group as a whole. Mitrinović used various terms and symbols in this aspect of his work, including “Canoe”, “Human House”, “Cactus”, and “Personal Alliance.”

The New Atlantis Foundation was started as a charitable trust in 1954 after the death of Mitrinović to “promote the cultural, educational and social thinking of the late Dimitrije Mitrinović” in accordance with his wishes. One of the Foundation’s first acts was to facilitate the donation of many of Mitrinović’s books to the library at the University of Belgrade. This collection remains at the Svetozar Marković University Library. The Foundation for many years held a series of annual lectures covering various aspects of religion and philosophy, giving particular attention to thinkers whose work may have been neglected or misinterpreted. The N.A.F., since re-named The Mitrinović Foundation, remains active in keeping alive the work of Mitrinović and other members of the Group. In the 1990s the Foundation donated the Mitrinović Library to Special Collections at the University of Bradford. This collection is kept together in the Mitrinović Library and is catalogued on the main university catalogue.

The papers of Mitrinović and the groups he was involved with were retained by the New Atlantis Foundation. The members’ own records were also added to this archive. The records were divided between several different houses, and some were listed by members of the Foundation (particularly Martin Ryle and Violet MacDermot). Parts of the archive were organised and re-arranged, in one case at least twice in different orders. The Archive was donated by the Foundation to Special Collections at the University of Bradford in 2003, where it was partially re-arranged to reflect the people and organisations involved. The Foundation supported conservation work on the Library books and re-packaging of the Archive for preservation, before funding the creation of a detailed catalogue in 2014-2015.

Arrangement

The archive has been arranged in 12 sections, as follows:

  • Section 1, Papers relating to Mitrinović, his life, works and death.
  • Section 2, Lectures and Speeches by Mitrinović, with related notes.
  • Section 3, Papers of, or relating to, individual members of Mitrinović’s circle.
  • Section 4, Records of the Adler Society (International Society for Individual Psychology), particularly the London branch.
  • Section 5 Papers of the New Europe Group.
  • Section 6 Papers of the New Britain Movement and New Britain Group.
  • Section 7 Papers of the House of Industry League.
  • Section 8 Papers of Anthropo-Femina of the New Atlantis and other women’s groups associated with Dimitrije Mitrinović and his circle.
  • Section 9, Records of the New Atlantis Foundation, alias Mitrinović Foundation.
  • Section 10, Study Resources and Subject Files created and collected by Mitrinović and his Circle.
  • Section 11, Photographs and artworks.
  • Section 12, Realia: objects associated with Mitrinović.

The original structure of the collection has been retained where discernible, with some files moved to better reflect their creating organisation and the intentions of the New Atlantis Foundation concerning the archive. The contents of individual files have been retained (except in a few cases of obvious misfiling); those that have been re-organised since their creation keep their most recent form. Original descriptions and conclusions are included in this catalogue if they are helpful to collection users.

Before coming to Bradford, the collection was split between storage areas in several houses then owned by members of the New Atlantis Foundation: Woodbine Cottage, Colstock, and Old Farm, all in Ditchling, Sussex. Woodbine Cottage and Colstock are located on the High Street and Old Farm is on Farm Lane.

Records in Sections 1, 11 and 12 were formerly housed in Woodbine Cottage, which held material relating directly to Mitrinović, his life and work.

Records in Sections 2, 4-8 were housed in Colstock, which held notes taken during Mitrinović’s lectures alongside related indexes, as well as the papers of various groups established by Mitrinović.

The contents of the Library at Colstock were considered somewhat separately, covering the papers of those connected to Mitrinović and his groups. This broadly corresponds to what is now Section 3. The Library also held notes taken by members of Mitrinović’s circle, many of which were unsorted. These have been sorted and added to appropriate sections to assist researchers.

In addition, Old Farm held original and duplicate copies of notes of talks and lectures by Mitrinović (i.e. more of Section 2). These were never listed by the New Atlantis Foundation, and again the files have now been filed under the appropriate sections.

Conditions Governing Access

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation. This collection contains correspondence and other items containing personal data so access is restricted under the Data Protection Act to certain records in Section 3 (Papers of individual members of Mitrinović’s circle), Section 4 (Adler Society), and Section 5 (New Europe Group) are closed due to the presence of sensitive personal information.

Access to some records in Section 9 New Atlantis Foundation, may be restricted due to the presence of personal data, but may be accessed under certain conditions. Please contact the Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition Information

Presented to Special Collections at the University of Bradford in 2003-2004 by The New Atlantis Foundation trustees.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished charts of the Archive’s present arrangement. Unpublished handlist prepared by John Brooker of University of Bradford, Special Collections. Unpublished handlists/guide prepared by the New Atlantis Foundation.

Archivist's Note

This collection contains hundreds of records in Serbo-Croat, many of which are written in Cyrillic script. All personal names, titles and names of organisations have been transliterated into the Latin alphabet. Diacritics and accents have been used to indicate the correct pronunciation. Where the original record creator used an anglicised/Westernised spelling (e.g. Sophie Mirkovitch) this has been retained alongside an alternative, potentially more authentic form (e.g. Sofija Mirković).

Place names have been rendered in their most common, current English version, e.g. Ragusa appears as Dubrovnik.

Described by Emma Burgham, Project Archivist.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. The donor’s rights in this collection have been assigned to Special Collections, but note that many third-party copyrights are represented in the Archive.

Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. Special Collections staff will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

Some published books have been moved from the Archive and added to the Mitrinović Library, where they represent usable copies of particular works. Archival material found amongst the Library books has been moved to the Archive. All such movements of material have been recorded, so their original locations can be established.

Accruals

Further material from the Mitrinović Foundation is anticipated.

Related Material

The J.B. Priestley Library also holds the Mitrinović Library, a collection of 4,000 books from the library of the New Atlantis Foundation. These are described individually on the main University of Bradford Library catalogue.

Papers of Andrew Rigby, Special Collections, University of Bradford.

The Svetozar Marković University Library, University of Belgrade, also holds thousands of books from the Mitrinović Library, bequeathed by Dimitrije Mitrinović.