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- Imich, Alexander
- New York (N.Y.)
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Name of creator
Alexander Imich was born in Częstochowa, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire), in 1903. As a child, Imich was a voluminous reader and especially enjoyed the works of Jack London and Joseph Conrad. He pictured himself as an adventurer and as such, decided that his calling was to be a sea captain. To accomplish this dream, he entered Marine School, but had difficulty overcoming the constraints which anti-Semitism put on him. One instructor, for example, declared that any Jews he took with him on his vessel would be left in the middle of the Atlantic. Imich decided a career change was in order. He developed a strong affinity for the natural world and as such, he went to Krakow to study Zoology at Jagiellonian University in 1920.
During his university career, anti-Semitism once again plagued Imich’s aspirations as some of the faculty did everything in their power to hold him back including forcing him to study in English, a language he spoke none of at the time, and assigning him a topic for his doctoral work that had already been covered by a previous doctoral student, thus making his dissertation very likely to be dismissed. Nonetheless, Imich was able to overcome these obstacles and obtain his doctorate in 1927, his dissertation being deemed “good enough”.
While at Jagiellonian, Imich fell in love with a chemistry student named Genia Mendelsohn, who eventually became his wife. While they were married, Imich worked in his father-in-law’s factory while Genia worked to become a painter. Imich’s life was shattered when Genia suddenly disappeared with her art instructor, only to turn up weeks later, her mental health decayed to the point that her father was in the process of committing her to an asylum near Warsaw. Genia spent several months in the asylum and Imich visited her regularly. Nonetheless, the incident irreparably damaged their relationship and they were divorced soon after Genia’s release.
While visiting Genia at the asylum, Imich met and fell in love with a young lawyer named Wela Katzenellenbogen who he married in 1936. Wela came from a very old German-Jewish family that included Karl Marx, Felix Mendelssohn, David Halberstam and Martin Buber. During World War II, both Imich and Wela were interred in a Russian labour camp near the White Sea for two years, but were liberated following the German attack on Russia in 1941. Imich and Wela managed to escape the brunt of the war’s horrors by relocating to Samarkand, Uzbekistan from 1942-1947. They returned to Poland to find that their parents and various members of their extended family had died in concentration camps. After this, Imich and Wela moved to France where Imich had a brother. In 1952 they moved to the United States, first to Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania and then to New York, dividing their week between both cities.
To make a living, Imich initially took up chemistry, but once Wela made for herself a career as a psychologist in 1965, Imich turned to his real passion: parapsychology. Imich had been interested in the paranormal since childhood. By 13, Imich was dabbling with table tilting and with Ouija boards. As early as 1932, Imich published an article in the German parapsychology journal Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie that explained his encounters with a Matylda S. who was among the first psychics Imich encountered. While living in France, Imich began interacting with a network of mystics, yogis and gurus, particularly via the Ramakrisha Vivekananda Order, an organization that dealt in yogic philosophy.
In New York, Imich met medium Eileen J. Garrett and proposed to her an international meeting of parapsychologists, an idea that meshed with the Parapsychology Foundation’s First International Conference of Parapsychological Studies that Garrett had in the works and that took place in Utrecht, Holland, in 1953. Imich has remained active in parapsychology ever since, attending some conferences, delivering speeches at others and judging parapsychology themed essay contests. He edited the book Incredible Tales of the Paranormal in 1995, entered the IM School of Healing Arts in New York, graduating two years later with the title “Reverend”, and in 1999, founded the Anomalous Phenomena Research Center (APRC) which sought to advance parapsychology through research and demonstration. Wela passed away in 1986, but Imich continued to live in the same apartment that they had rented in 1965.
Imich passed away on June 8, 2014, shortly after being named the oldest man in the world at the age of 111 in April 2014.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of twelve series. The first, biographical, consists of miscellaneous personal papers that Imich has collected over the years, papers and writings of his wife, Wela, and personal journals dating back to 1946. In addition to this, the series contains articles written about Imich, some concerning his role as parapsychologist, others concerning his longevity. The next series, writings, consists of Imich's written articles and publications and all the material related to them including correspondence and abstracts. The writings range in date primarily from 1985-2002, but with some earlier pieces from 1958 and the early 1930s. The chief work in this collection is Incredible Tales of the Paranormal, a compilation of essays edited by Imich. The series contains various copies of the essays in this compendium, even though they were not written by Imich, as it showcases the editing process.
The third series consists of various essay contests that Imich judged between 1992 and 1995, sponsored by various parapsychological organizations. The fourth series, collected typescripts and articles, consist of articles and typescripts that Imich had collected over the years, including works by Rhea White and Larissa Vilenskaya. The fifth series is a group of subject files which vary from astrology to lost treasure buried in Haiti. The sixth series, lectures and conferences, consists of information relating to the various conferences Imich has attended in his life, primarily in the early and mid-1990s, but some as far back as 1970 and 1949. The seventh series, organization publications, consists of a large collection of publications by various parapsychology organizations between 1958 and 2009. The series contains the publications themselves along with any material Imich had grouped with them, be it correspondence, notes or otherwise.
The eighth series, correspondence, consists of the many letters and emails which Imich has kept from 1949-2011. The correspondence are primarily between Imich and his contemporaries in the world of parapsychology, many of whom are also personal friends. Imich filed his correspondence using three different methods. The first method organizes the correspondence by name, each file correlating to a specific person or organization. This method was primarily used for robust and lengthy correspondence. The second method again organizes by name, but each file corresponds to a letter of the alphabet rather than a specific person; thus all A’s are grouped together in one file, as are all B’s, etc. These are primarily smaller correspondence. Finally, the third method of correspondence filing is by subject. In this category, related correspondence were bound in binders and each binder was assigned a title. The majority of these correspondence are from the 1980s or earlier. Though many binders required two or more file folders to contain their contents, they are treated intellectually as a single file.
The ninth series contains various records from the IM School of Healing Arts in New York, which Imich attended from 1997-1999. The tenth series contains books which Imich has collected from 1937 to 1995, many of which have inscriptions. The eleventh series contains various pieces of silverware which were bent by Joe A. Nuzum. Finally, the 13th series contains various VHS tapes that Imich had collected, consisting primarily of demonstrations and experiments by Joe A. Nuzum and taped copies of the television show "The Otherside".
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