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David Goldenberg collection of Joseph Eyer material


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

David M. Goldenberg is a writer and an educator who earned his Ph.D. from Dropsie College in 1978 and then worked at Dropsie from 1978 to at least 1986, serving as president from 1981 to 1986. As early as 1993, he was associated with the University of Pennsylvania and since 2003, he has been a visiting scholar. He was a neighbor of Joe Eyer, with whom he became friends, and who Eyer described as his "spokesman, mediator, and on occasion savior," (box 1, folder 2).

Joseph (Joe) Eyer (1944-2017) was a scholar from Philadelphia whose research focused on social causes and health effects of stress. He and his colleague, Peter Sterling, coined the term "allostasis," an alternative view of physiological regulation which goes beyond its homeostatic roots, offering novel insights relevant to our understanding and treatment of several chronic health conditions.

Eyer grew up in a single-mother household in West Philadelphia. He attended Central High School; and in 1962, he graduated as a valedictorian from Haverford College, his education funded by a Westinghouse Science Scholarship. In 1978, he received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania with a dissertation examining the social sources of stress and disease patterns. Eyer married Ingrid Waldron, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and was father to Katie and Jessie.

Throughout his education and early career, he was involved in organizing around a variety of radical causes, and also worked with the Civil Rights Movement in the South. He continued his academic career as a lecturer at Penn (1972-1984), Rutgers University (1985-1986), and Brooklyn College (1986-1987). In the late 1980s, his academic career was cut short as his bipolar disorder prevented him from further publishing. He died by suicide in 2017.

This collection consists largely of copies of letters written by Eyer to a variety of people, and sent to Goldenberg. It is not always clear why the letters were sent to Goldenberg; but Eyer's trust in Goldenberg is evident. Attached to one set of letters, Eyer wrote, "I am thankful for your role as a spokesman, mediator, and on occasion, savior. Therefore, I want you to read these. I believe I can rely upon you to communicate properly, since my experiments have revealed that you have done so extensively in the past," (box 1, folder 2). On other occasions, Eyer wrote on the top of first pages, "FYI," "I thought you might get a chuckle out of these," etc.

Some of these letters appear to have been written during times of personal crisis for Eyer and they are emotionally charged. In particular the copies of letters written to his father and brother are indicative of fraught relationships and internal conflict. Eyer frequently uses metaphors to explain his experiences and to describe his relationships, and he makes many references to insanity, myths, paranoia, phone taps, reality, and religion.

These letters provide glimpses of the academic as well as a human being struggling with bipolar disorder; and they provide insight into his philosophies.

Gift of David Goldenberg, 2022.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 July 21
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Letter and note from Goldenberg to Eyer with legal advice, 1986 August 1.
Box 1 Folder 1
Copies of letters written by Eyer to his father and his brother, sent to Goldenberg by Eyer, 1988.
Box 1 Folder 2
Copies of letters written by Eyer to Merton Miller, economist, regarding stock market experiments in Chicago, sent to Goldenberg by Eyer, 1990 September-October.
Box 1 Folder 3
Copies of letter written by Eyer to the editor of the Wall Street Journal regarding the Middle East, sent to Goldenberg by Eyer, 1990 October 9.
Box 1 Folder 3
Copy of letter written by Eyer to the minister of the First Presbyterian Church regarding religion, sent to Goldenberg by Eyer, 1991 January 5.
Box 1 Folder 4
Letter written by Eyer to Mrs. Goldenberg, regarding trees and wood on their neighboring properties, 1993 October 3.
Box 1 Folder 4
Notes, including "basic real estate option list," "the story of Najagneq," and two handwritten notes, presumably to Goldenberg, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4

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