History is the attempt to describe, and perhaps understand, the past through narrative and interpretation. In this sense, a completely objective history is impossible. Nevertheless, a historical narrative must be backed by evidence, and the historian tries to find an objective description of events and processes that is most accurate and free of bias.
In this spirit, Harlinah Longcroft who lives in Canberra, Australia, (photo) has been working on a history of Subud project since 1983. She has been collecting documents of historical interest, which now form a special collection within the WSA archives, and meticulously researching the development of Subud since the birth of Bapak in 1901.
BOOK 1 of VOLUME 1 of the ‘History of Subud’ The Coming of Subud; The Beginning in Indonesia (1901- 1959), was published in 1993 after eight years of research. It documents the early life of Bapak, his first experiences in the latihan in 1925, through to his first departure to England in May 1957.
BOOK 2 of VOLUME 1, The Coming of Subud, Spreading Through the World (1901- 1959), was published in 2001. It provides a more detailed account of the events from 1950 when the latihan was first experienced by a non-Indonesian, Hussein Rofe, to Bapak’s first trip to Coombe Springs in England in May 1957 and his travels elsewhere later in 1957.
BOOK 3 of VOLUME 1 is still in progress. It covers the period 1958-59 and is about Subud in twenty-one countries. Source material is always welcome.
All the books contain extracts from Bapak’s talks, and most of the reminiscences from Subud members are given in the words of the person describing what happened. Harlinah outlines the status of the project in this 2012 report, including digitizing around 500 hours of interviews.
The History of Subud books may be purchased online from the Subud Publications International web site at www.subudbooks.com
Harlinah wrote about how she came to be involved in the history project stating that she “was trained as a journalist…and worked for the Society of Antiquaries of London, where she had had the unusual opportunity to hear some of the Western World’s top historians discussing the latest books as they drank their morning coffee around her desk…“