It was around 1980 when a geek, new to Anthroposophy, avuncularly called by his anthroposophical seniors “the bearded one,” felt frustrated because every time he wanted to know what and where Rudolf Steiner said or wrote about this or that, he had to ask the “experts,” often German immigrants. And then, once he knew, and despite his 100 book personal anthroposophical library, the book in question was often either out of print or not available in English. So James Stewart (no longer “the bearded one” because everyone has a beard nowadays) decided to do something about it. He'd had many years of experience developing data bases for computers about things that didn't interest him; now was the time to do it for something that not only interested him but was also dear to his heart. His friends, and even the “experts” thought it was a great idea and encouraged him with ... slaps on the back.
He started typing the data with his two-finger method. If technology hadn't developed so quickly, he'd still be on “basic books”. When hand-held scanners became available, the books were scanned and converted to text – but it was still a long way from what it is today. Character recognition was primitive, and it took hours just to get cleanly scanned pages; then came correcting and proofreading. Then there was finding and buying the books to scan. Jim wasn't in L. A or Manhattan, but someplace in Michigan no one ever heard of, so this need gave him an excuse to travel around on an anthroposophical hunting mission, so to speak.
When the Internet went public in the late 80's and early 90's, the “Rudolf Steiner Archive” took off, at first offering Steiner lectures as email attachments. As interest grew, so did the offerings. Multiple servers (27 with 4 terabytes of disk space) have since been put into service (at considerable cost) and have been exoterically providing esoteric nourishment ever since – as a duly registered not-for-profit corporation in the state of Michigan, by the way.
Today virtually everything Rudolf Steiner ever wrote or spoke in lectures and has been translated into English is available free of charge at rsarchive.org.
Now a network of worldwide volunteers, including James Stewart, aka the “e.Librarian,” does the scanning, converting, and proof-reading. The texts are then converted into an Internet-friendly format and stored in the database where users from all over the world can access them and use the research tools provided. English has been the world's international language since the end of the Second World War, so the Archive's “clients” are not only from English-speaking countries, but also interested persons from the rest of the non-German speaking world. Most Steiner lectures that appear here in SouthernCrossReview.org include a note at the end: “Thanks to the Rudolf Steiner Archive,” which means I uploaded the material from there.
Where I grew up in Brooklyn, we learned early that “There's no such thing as a free lunch,” which is usually true. How, then, is the Rudolf Steiner Archive financed if it's true what I wrote above: “free of charge”? Well, it is true – a free lunch indeed! The Archive exists through free donations, mostly very small ones starting at $3 per month. With credit cards and PayPal it's easy. There's also a yearly grant by the Rudolf Steiner Charitable Trust. Earlier financing consisted of James' and his partner Marylin's savings, which they are still waiting to recover.
Now a new publishing initiative is still in the trial stage, which might, eventually, help in this respect: paperback and Kindle books POD (Print On Demand) and distributed via Amazon. The few books now available (not free of charge, but reasonable) are here. It includes something really new: anthroposophical fiction incarnated in "Anthroposophical Fantasies by Roberto Fox aka Frank Thomas Smith.
- The Worldview of Herman Grimm in Relation to Spiritual Science (from GA 62), translated by Peter Stebbing
- Toward a Threefold Society (GA 23), a reinvigorated translation by Frank Thomas Smith
And these are being worked on
- Artemis and the Artemision, by Peter Stebbing
- Foundation Course: Spiritual Discernment, Religious Feeling, Sacramental Action (GA 343), translated by Hanna von Maltitz
The Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib is an on-going adventure in anthroposophical spiritual science. If you didn't know about it, check the link. If you are a long time friend and user, or even a new one, remember that it's continued existence and development needs your support. Figure it out using Karmic Calculus.