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James A. Long was leader of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) from 1951 until his death in 1971. Born in 1898 to a poor family in York, Pennsylvania, he contracted polio as a boy and always walked with a cane. Following a career in private business, he worked during World War II as management consultant in the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, DC, and was later transferred to the Department of State where he assisted in the changeover to peacetime responsibilities. While there, Mr. Long was sent as an Advisor to the US Delegation to the United Nations at the opening of its Second Session in 1946.
After a long and extensive search for a satisfying philosophy of life, in 1935 he joined the Theosophical Society, then headquartered at Point Loma, California, and led by Gottfried de Purucker. He worked closely with Colonel Arthur L. Conger, who lived near Washington, DC. Colonel Conger was reelected president of the American Section in 1939, and shortly thereafter he appointed Mr. Long its business manager. Mr. Long also helped Colonel Conger with the section magazine and himself edited a pocket-sized monthly, Theosophical Nuggets (1940-1944).
Colonel Conger became leader of the TS in October 1945. That year Mr. Long was appointed a Cabinet member and, upon retirement from government service in 1947, he joined the staff of the international headquarters, which had relocated to Covina, California, in 1942. In December 1950, Colonel Conger sent him on a world tour in order to contact officials and members with regard to the future work of the Society. He returned just ten days before Colonel Conger's death on February 21, 1951. (For a fuller treatment of the Society's history up to this time, readers are referred to H. P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement by Charles J. Ryan and Colonel Arthur L. Conger by Alan E. Donant.)
Mr. Long frequently referred to his predecessor's administration as a transition period from the "receiving end to the giving end" of theosophy. He stated that his own would be a continuation of this transition and, "to the best of our ability, be an example of practical theosophy in action." Part of that effort from the very beginning was to keep the membership informed about the unfolding karma of the Society by issuing general letters and other reports of its progress.
The 1951 Tour Reports comprises Mr. Long's message to the General Congress of the Theosophical Society held April 15, 1951, in Utrecht, Holland (The Netherlands), together with meetings in Holland, Sweden, Germany, England, and Wales held between April 15 and June 24. Mr. Long wrote to members on August 10, 1951:
It seemed better to publish the transcripts of the meetings held rather than to present the activities in a formal report. It is hoped that the printed word will carry to you something of the spirit the members brought to these meetings and that the approach to our work for the future, as it is revealed here, will be of help in your own theosophic endeavors.
Originally issued only to members of the Theosophical Society, this material is being made generally available for the first time, lightly edited for publication.
November 17, 2006
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