Rowena Ripin Ansbacher was born in New York City on December 6, 1906. She graduated from Columbia's Barnard College in 1927. During her senior year, she attended a lecture by Alfred Adler. Adler persuaded her to enroll at the University of Vienna, where she earned the PhD under Karl and Charlotte Bukler in 1929. In 1933, Adler introduced her to Heinz. They married in 1934.
Heinz Ludwig Ansbacher was born in Frankfurt, Germany on October 21, 1904. After graduating from a gymnasium, the German equivalent of U.S. college preparatory schools, he worked as a dishwasher aboard a steamship. He came to the U.S. in 1924. He took a job on Wall Street but was unsuccessful. In 1932, he attended a series of lectures at Columbia by Adler, who became Ansbacher's psychotherapist. Ansbacher also attended seminars at Adler's home. Adler persuaded Ansbacher to pursue graduate study in psychology. Ansbacher was accepted into Columbia, even though he did not possess a bachelor's degree. In 1937, he completed the PhD under Robert S. Woodward.
During World War II, Heinz served in the Allies' Psychological Warfare Division. He wrote pamphlets that were dropped in war zones with the goal to persuade German soldiers to defect or surrender. He also worked with Nazi soldiers in the custody of the Allies to study the psychology of Nazi propaganda. This led to his 1948 book: Attitudes of German Prisoners of War: A Study of the Dynamics of National-Socialistic Fellowship.
The legacy of the Ansbachers was the widespread popularity of Adler's individual psychology. This was accomplished with their three books. The first and most famous, Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler came out in 1956. It was published in over 25 editions, in several languages. The Ansbachers also wrote Superiority and Social Interest in 1964 and Cooperation Between the Sexes in 1980. In addition, they translated some of Adler's works into English. In 1958, Heinz took over as editor of Individual Psychology News. He renamed it Journal of Individual Psychology. Heinz and Rowena served as co-editors of the journal for 16 years (1958-1974). The Ansbachers spent their entire careers post-WWII at the University of Vermont, although only Heinz was a professor there. In 1980, the university granted them both honorary doctorates. Rowena passed on October 25, 1996 at the age of 89. Heinz died on June 22, 2006 at the age of 101.
From the guide to the Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher papers, 1903-1967, (Center for the History of Psychology)