William John Fielding Papers
Language of Materials
William Fielding (1886-1974) was an author, editor, and sexologist. He left school before completing the eighth grade and worked at various manual labor jobs. In 1906, he enrolled in bookkeeping and accounting courses, and in 1909 was hired as secretary for the Tiffany Company, from which he retired in 1963. Fielding served as a trustee for the Tiffany Foundation from 1946. By 1913, Fielding had articles published in the New York Call, a newspaper of the Socialist Party, and began taking classes at the Rand School of Social Science, also a socialist institution. He became interested in social problems and birth control and wrote a number of books and pamphlets on sexology and psychology. The collection contains correspondence, typescripts of Fielding's autobiography, All the Lives I Have Lived (Dorrance & Co., 1972), essays, reviews, poetry, and case histories. The case histories consist of correspondence with readers of Fielding's work in sexology and psychology who wrote to him for advice on personal matters, e.g., masturbation, homosexuality, transvestism, lesbians, birth control, impotence, frigidity, fetishes, nervous disorders and phobias. The correspondence series concerns Fielding's work at Tiffany's; his personal life and reflections; and his interest in and work relating to sexology, psychology, free thought, and other social issues.
William J. (William John) Fielding (1886-1974) was an author, editor, and sexologist. Born in New Jersey, he left school before completing the eighth grade and first worked in blast furnaces and then as a sandhog, boring tunnels under the Hudson River. In 1906, he decided to prepare for a clerical career rather than continuing hard manual labor. That same year, he enrolled in bookkeeping and accounting courses, and in 1909 was hired as secretary for the Tiffany Company. By 1913, Fielding had articles published in the New York Call and began taking classes at the Rand School of Social Science. He became interested in social problems and birth control and wrote a number of books and pamphlets on sexology and psychology, thirty of which were published over the years in the Little Blue Books series, including a thirteen-volume series, "Rational Sex" (Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, publisher). Fielding also published articles in The New York Call, the daily newspaper of the Socialist Party. He served as editor and literary editor of the Newark Leader (1915-22), as editor of Know Thyself (1913-24), and was active in Socialist Party politics in New Jersey throughout the 1920s. He also corresponded with Alfred Korzybski regarding the latter's theories of general semantics and mathematical reasoning. In 1942, Fielding was appointed secretary-treasurer of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and in 1946 he became a trustee. Fielding retired from Tiffany in 1963 and published his autobiography All the Lives I Have Lived in 1972.
1908: Began his life-long relationship with Joseph Lewis
1909: Hired as secretary by George Heydt, then advertising manager for Tiffany Company.
1913-1915: Emanuel Haldeman-Julius was on the staff of the socialist newspaper, The New York Call and published articles by Fielding.
1914: Bought copies of The Woman Rebel by Margaret Sanger at an Emma Goldman meeting. As a grassroots supporter, he distributed copies of the book, and his writings began to reflect themes of social hygiene. By 1920, Joseph Lewis introduced Fielding to Dr. William J. Robinson, editor of Critic and Guide.
1914: George Heydt became secretary to the president and several vice-presidents at Tiffany and Fielding moved up the corporate ladder as Heydt's secretary
1918: Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation formed
1913-late 1920s: Attended classes on economics, sociology and psychology at the Rand School, and participated in the Socialist Party politics in New Jersey.
1915-1918: Editor of the Newark Leader
1919-1930: The Little Blue Books were published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius and gained wide popularity through mass distribution. Fielding contributed thirty titles to the series, including a thirteen-volume series on "Rational Sex" and other works in sexology and psychology.
1920: Introduced to A. Korzybski's theories of general semantics and mathematical reasoning.
1919-1922: literary editor of Newark Leader
1913-1924: editor of Know Thyself
1925: attended Sixth International Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference as a member of the advisory council of the American Birth Control League
1933-1934: met Havelock Ellis and Norman Haire.
1942: Moved to Long Island. Appointed secretary-treasurer of the Louis Tiffany Foundation.
1946: Appointed trustee of the Tiffany Foundation
Late 1940's: Became involved with Ethical Humanism
1963: Retires from Tiffany.
1972: Publication of his autobiography, All the Lives I Have Lived (Dorrance and Co.).
The collection is organized into three series. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series I. Case Histories, 1923-1963
Series II. Correspondence, 1912-1986
Series III. Writings, 1911-1973 Series IV. Addendum, undated
Scope and Content Note
The papers contain correspondence; typescripts of Fielding's autobiography, All the Lives I Have Lived; essays, reviews, and poetry; and case histories from Fielding's work as a sexologist. The case histories consist of correspondence with readers of Fielding's work in sexology and psychology who wrote to him for advice on personal matters, e.g., masturbation, homosexuality, transvestism, lesbians, birth control, impotence, frigidity, fetishes, nervous disorders and phobias. The correspondence series, which comprises the majority of the collection, concerns Fielding's work at Tiffany's; his interest in and work relating to sexology, psychology, free thought, and other social issues; and his personal reflections. Prominent correspondents include Harry Benjamin, Havelock Ellis, Andre Fridon, E. Haldeman-Julius, Joseph Lewis, Alfred Korzybski, Martin J. Martin, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, William J. Robinson, Victor Robinson, Margaret Sanger, Samuel Schmalhausen and Marie C. Stopes. Notable organizations represented include the American Birth Control League, American Social Hygiene Association, Ethical Humanist Societies of Greater New York, Eugenics Educational Society, Freethinkers of America, Society for Constructive Birth Control (Great Britain), Thomas Paine Foundation, Thomas Paine Society, and Tiffany and Company. The collection reflects Fieldings diverse pursuits, clarifies the course of his career, and documents the personal history of an aging, middle-class individual living in America between 1960-1973.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by William John Fielding was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; William John Fielding Papers; TAM 069; Box number; Folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by William John Fielding, 1974. The accession number associated with this gift is 1974.005.
One poster was found in the repository in 2014. The accession number associated with this material is 2014.161.
About this Guide
Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the William John Fielding Photographs (PHOTOS 060). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the William John Fielding Papers (TAM 069).