Condolences and Tributes for Jean Albert
15 September 1925 – 05 August 2020
Jean Albert, our Founder Librarian, passed away early on Wednesday 5th August. Her death was a release from pain, after a long and well-lived 94 years.
In the years from February 2011, I got to know Jean a bit, initially as a mentor as she introduced me to the borrowers, Lynda and how the Library worked. Jean was very organised and provided me with a Library Manual that detailed every process and smoothly interlocking function, yet she was accepting of human errors – she was kind, not demanding.
Jean and Patrick Tummon worked very well together building the collections. Her understanding of Jungian psychology reached back before the founding of the Centre. The establishment of a specialist Jungian psychology library was a 25-year labour of love as a volunteer.
As Jean felt able to leave things up to me, she came in less frequently, and in 2013 her final professional task was to write a Brief history of the Library at the C G Jung Centre, Cape Town. It appears in full on a Library page of the SAAJA website. Patrick motivated to have the Library named after Jean in honour of her enormous input in its creation, and put the plaque up himself. This Library has been called a treasure by most who enter, and particularly by overseas visitors. Not many Jung centres have the luxury of a dedicated library facility on site.
I visited Jean most weeks, it was a joy for both of us. Sometimes I’d sit on the bed, leaning against her drawn up legs, or just be next to her, holding a bone-thin hand. We’d talk about the week we’d had and I’d fill her in on how her library was being looked after. Occasionally our conversation would venture into politics – the City Council’s handing of the water crisis, or the #feesmustfall protests. Jean always leant towards finding the middle way between urgent or emotional needs; she made no allowances for pettiness, or sentiment, or one-sided views.
After she moved to Frail Care in Murambi House several months ago, it was awkward fitting in with their care and feeding times, and when the home was shut down I could only leave the chocolate and a message. So we never got to hug, knowing it might be the last time. Perhaps it’s best that way.
A week later the entire country was shut down and without a telephone in her shared room we were weaned of each other’s company, and Jean of her hold on life.
I’m very grateful to Dr Lee Miller, her trusted doctor of many years, who got to visit and comfort her. It must have been wonderful for Jean to hear a familiar voice whose support and advice she trusted before she went.
10th August 2020
What terribly sad news…Jean was one of the central figures in the birth and growth of SAAJA…especially our library. We have a library that is the envy of many. Probably the best broadly psychoanalytic collection of literature in Africa. She will be sorely missed.
Received this mail this morning as I suppose all SAAJA members did.
The image, which if I remember correctly you will also appreciate, reminded me of Jean Albert.
One was welcome in her library. Never intrusive, she did seem to understand the need for bookish people to just be there. A great playing space.
She also alerted me about Spring books, helpful then. She also understood well when we once spoke about my fantasy of how books seem to find the right reader.
I remember her.
Taken from the SAAJA Facebook Page
Having met and worked with Jean at City Libraries in the late 1960’s it is a sad loss of a great friend, precise in her mind until the end, she never wavered in her determination to support the good and the true. 50 years of friendship [though we had our up and down moments] will always be celebrated in my mind and memory of her.
I also have many good memories of Jean, who was one of the first people to welcome me to my work as a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town. We both had a particular interest in the work of C.G. Jung.
Ah Jean. Sorry to hear about your pain at the end. Archetypal librarian. She knew I was going to be late returning my books even before I took out my first. She gave me that all knowing look. She knew. And I didn’t prove her wrong, not once. And yet she remained gentle but firm with her reminders. I think she really liked me… treated me kindly with the discounts off my fines. An iconic collection. Always gave me a thrill running my fingers across the spines. Comforting place. I imagined it gave Jean a deep sense of satisfaction, my (our) appreciation – even though she never let on. But I knew. RIP ❤️
Thank you for your beautiful tribute. Jean was always kind and helpful when I visited the library, until I left Cape Town in 1997.
Thank you dear, Debra West, for your deeply felt and honoring tribute to Jean ❤️
Strangely enough I have had Jean on my mind frequently in the last three weeks. The is indeed very sad news at the same time as a release for her as she lived a rich life and reached a ripe age. I have so many memories of very early days before the commencement of the Centre when I was on the original Committee with Vera Buhrman, Graham Saayman, Glenda Raad, Vanessa Saayman, Lourens van der Post as we convened regularly to shape the vision for the Centre. Jean has been a pivotal icon through all the years, always quiet but devoted and insightful. She injected her passion for a Library into us all and laboured so conscientiously and with such warmth though all the years.
Thank you, Jean, for your enormous contribution to the history of our Jung Institute.
Rest in peace.
Farewell long-standing friend and colleague.
They say that when an elder of a community dies, a certain part of the history of that community dies with them. Jean was involved with the library from the earliest beginnings of SAAJA, which in its early years was called Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies. Jean remembers, for example, that a book collection was first put together during the 1980s under Ian Player’s direction. It was this book collection that she built up into about 4000 books by 2009. Fortunately for us, Patrick Tummon had the foresight to dedicate a Mantis Journal to her, recording and honouring her commitment and contribution over a period of 20 years. (Mantis Journal Vol 20/21, Numbers 2/1, Winter/Summer 2008/2009). I quote from this journal: ‘In April 1990 Jean Albert wrote a library proposal for Julian David and the executive committee of the Cape of Good hope Centre for Jungian Studies, in which she suggested it could be grown to stock 2000+ items over the coming decades… One might wonder what it was that inspired Jean to give such focused attention to SAAJA’s library over the last 20 years… the rather surprising answer seems to suggest a continuity of engagement with Analytical Psychology in her family stretching back to the 1930s, as illustrated in the letter from Dr Jung to Jean’s mother Dorothy Harris.’ This letter, signed by Jung, is published in this journal as well. Jean will be remembered and honoured by us as an ancestor to the Jung Centre, with deep respect and gratitude.
Sad to hear about Jean Albert’s passing. She got well into her nineties and had a varied and sometimes wonderful life.
I got to know her well after my divorce and spent many good hours with her. May she rest in peace.
I knew Jean when she was at UCT Library well before the Jung Centre was established. May she rest in peace! She was an exceptional person. Some of the adjectives that come to my mind are: gentle, humble, helpful, discreet, efficient, kind, determined, respectful, and many other positive ones.
Thank you, Debra for this heartfelt tribute to Jean. The photograph of her shows her beauty and kindness. I’ve always known of her dedication to the Jung Centre CT library. May her soul rest in peace and all condolences to family, friends and colleagues…
❤️May she rest in peace. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.