Two documents about Some Answered Questions, found in the Laura Dreyfus-Barney Collection

First published on the Irfan e-mail list

First document: extract of a letter from Laura Dreyfus Barney to Horace Holley, dated 31st March 1958 (the original could be in the Wilmette Archives). See “Publisher’s Foreword to 1964 Edition” in recent editions of Some Answered Questions.


On the back of the paper cover, last paragraph, we read this misleading passage where there are several errors:

“Abdu’l Baha’s home in Haifa was a gathering place for people from all over the world. In the midst of a busy life He would entertain guests at lunch and supper with happy, humorous stories, and within His deep insight on a variety of subjects. He delighted in gathering together people of all races, nations and religions around His hospitable board. It was here that some of these table talks were taken down in notes by Laura Clifford Barney of Paris and published as Some Answered Questions.”


  1. All the talks in Some Answered Questions took place in Akka and during the critical years of 1904-1906 when Abdu’l Baha was held a prisoner in Akka and under constant threats from the Sultan at Constantinople to be removed to a far-off desert confinement.
    Few pilgrims were received during this period and when they came they remained only a day or two. The guests heard few humorous stories under the strained circumstances.
  2. I did not wish to trust to my personal notes when Abdul-Baha answered to the questions printed in this book so I always arranged for some able Persian secretary to be present: Myrza Hadi and Myrza Mohseinne (both his sons-in-law), Nourideen and Moneer, all four persons who were accustomed to perform secretariate work for the Master, took down his words.
    Every line of the Persian original text was read by Abdu’l Baha who some time corrected a word or a line with his reed pen, then signed every lesson and stamped it with his seal, just the same seal and signature as on his Tablets.
Second document: a letter from the Archives Office (of Haifa).

9 December 1987

Dr. xxxx

c/o National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of France

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

The Archives Office has been requested to respond to the observations made in your letter dated 19 November 1987 addressed to Mr. xxxx, concerning the manuscripts of Some Answered Questions which were found in the Bahá’í archives in Paris.

The photocopies which you sent were checked carefully against the manuscript of Some Answered Questions which is held in the Archives in Haifa. The copy held in Haifa is apparently a later copy than either of the two copies seen by you in Paris, and we therefore conclude that there are in fact three manuscripts, as follows:

  1. The secretary’s notes taken at table, with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s corrections (Paris archives),
  2. A neat copy with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s further corrections (Paris archives),
  3. A final copy with still further amendments by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Bahá’í World Centre).

Further, it seems that there may be some chapters in the two Paris manuscripts which are not included in the manuscript which is in Haifa, and that it will be necessary at some future time for all three manuscripts to undergo detailed study in Haifa.

We are grateful to you for drawing this highly important matter to our attention.


With loving Bahá’í greetings,

For the Archives Office

cc: National Assembly of France

Editor’s note: As I couldn’t locate the two manuscripts in question in the Paris Archives, I suppose they were sent to Haifa.