Parapsychology

The collection Zorab

History of the collection: The collection has been built up since c.1900 and augmented by bequests from RA Reddingius (1939) and G Zorab (1990).
Size: The collection comprises c.1,000 titles.
Accessibility: The books are listed in the online public catalogue.
More information: Huibert Crijns 070-3140518

Frederik van Eden, De nachtbruid. Katwijk aan Zee, 1979. Cover. Shelf mark: 1456 C 19. 

Frederik van Eden, De nachtbruid. Katwijk aan Zee, 1979. Cover. Shelf mark: 1456 C 19.

L.E. Rheine, Mind over Matter. London, 1970. Cover. Shelf mark: 7107 E 13 

L.E. Rheine, Mind over Matter. London, 1970. Cover. Shelf mark: 7107 E 13

G. Zorab, De jacht op het spiritistisch bewijs. Den Haag, 1939. Title page. Shelf mark: 1130 D 44. 

G. Zorab, De jacht op het spiritistisch bewijs. Den Haag, 1939. Title page. Shelf mark: 1130 D 44.

The collection

Parapsychology can be described as a special branch of psychology that is engaged in explaining paranormal phenomena from within the occult sciences. Parapsychology attempts to find a scientific explanation for things such as telepathy and clairvoyance, water divining and crystal gazing, as well as various forms of 'proscopia' (experiencing or observing future events in an extrasensory way). At the beginning of the 20th century, occult or spiritualistic phenomena were a subject of popular interest. Traces of that interest can be found in the works of Dutch writers, such as Frederik van Eeden. In his De nachtbruid, published in 1906, we encounter the phenomenon of 'leaving'.
Critical investigations in parapsychology were initiated in England, where the Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882. In the Netherlands, parapsychology was given an academic basis with the appointment of two unsalaried university lecturers, Dr PA Dietz of Leiden in 1932 and Dr WHC Tenhaeff a year later in Utrecht. Dr Tenhaeff would be appointed professor in 1953 with an endowed chair, which proved controversial when the time came to appoint his successor in the sixties.

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek has always had books on the esoteric sciences in its collection. The first of these were earlier works such as those by Hermes Trismegistus, Agrippa of Nettesheim, Paracelsus and Nostradamus. Since the end of the 19th century the collecting policy has also focused on subjects such as parapsychology, spiritualism and telepathy. In 1939 books were acquired from the estate of the Hague ophthalmologist Dr Rutger Adolf Reddingius (1866-1939), who also left a sum of money earmarked for further acquisitions. A welcome addition was the library of George Avetoom Marterus Zorab (1989-1990), bequeathed to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in his will in 1990. This gift included several hundred titles and a few rare periodicals. Zorab's archive, with letters and other documents, is also part of the collection.

George Zorab was a well-known figure in the world of parapsychology. He was of Armenian descent but was born in what was then the Dutch East Indies. After quite some wandering he settled in the Netherlands, where he devoted himself entirely to his interests. In the forties and fifties, he and Tenhaeff were the most important writers in the field of parapsychological phenomena, publishing De jacht op het spiritistische bewijs and other works. Zorab's interest evolved from spiritualism and mediums to the study of clairvoyance, proscopy and psychokinesis (causing objects to move by paranormal means). His writings earned him an international reputation. His collaboration with Tenhaeff came to an end when Zorab became convinced that Tenhaeff's approach to experimentation was insufficiently critical. Zorab himself may have devoted his life to parapsychological study, but he distinguished himself mainly with his scientific detachment.

Literature

Verslag der Koninklijke Bibliotheek 1939. 's-Gravenhage : Belinfante, p. 7.
H. van Dongen and J.L.F. Gerding, PSI in wetenschap en wijsbegeerte : geschiedenis van het parapsychologisch onderzoek in Nederland, Deventer : Ankh-Hermes, 1983, 144 p. (Also published as a special issue of Tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie 1983, nos. 2-3.)
H. van der Hoeven, in: KB Centraal XIX(1990) no. 9, p.3.
Encyclopedia of occultism & parapsychology. Detroit [etc.] : Gale Research, 1991, s.v. Zorab.
R.A. Reddingius, ophthalmologist 1866-1939. G.A.M. Zorab, parapsychologist 1898-1990. In: Collectors and collections. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1789-1998. Zwolle : Waanders, 1998, p. 102-103.