Fonds RC0280 - Dora Russell fonds

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Dora Russell fonds

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  • 1893-198? (Creation)

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Physical description

1 m of textual records and graphic material.

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Biographical history

Dora Russell, educator, author and social reformer, was born in 1894 at Thornton Heath to Sir Frederick Black and his wife, Sarah, and educated at Girton College, Cambridge. She married Bertrand Russell on 27 September 1921. The couple had two children. Together they founded and ran Beacon Hill school, where their children began their educations. After her separation in 1932 followed by divorce in 1935, Dora Russell continued to operate the school.

She was active in many causes. In 1924 she founded the Workers' Birth Control Group and ran as the Labour candidate for Chelsea in the general election. She was a founding member of the National Council for Civil Liberties. She was one of organizers of the Women's Caravan of Peace in 1958. Dora Russell was also the author of several books, beginning with The Prospects for Industrial Civilization (1923), written jointly with Bertrand Russell. She published a three volume autobiography, The Tamarisk Tree (1977-1985). She died in Cornwall on 31 May 1986.

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Scope and content

The fonds consists of correspondence (including many letters from Bertrand to Dora Russell), Bertrand Russell's manuscripts and typescripts, photographs, printed materials including Beacon Hill prospectuses, membership cards and programs, and a syllabus. The fonds is supplemented by books which have been catalogued as part of Russell's library and periodicals which have not been catalogued.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Fonds was acquired from Dora Russell's estate in August 1987. The fonds was split and Beacon Hill School materials were acquired by the International Institiute for Social History in Amsterdam. See Katharine Tait, "Interim Report on the Beacon Hill School Materials," Russell: the journal of the Bertrand Russell Archives n.s. 7 (1987): 137-40.


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Location of originals

Researchers should also consult Dora Russell's Papers at the Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. Her archives are split between there and McMaster.

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Restrictions on access

The restriction on access to correspondence with Patricia Russell has expired. Correspondence with Katharine Tait (parts of box 2, or box 7.29) is closed until five years after Tait’s death.

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Associated materials

Researchers should also consult the Bertrand Russell fonds, including several recent acquisitions which contain Dora Russell materials. Access via BRACERS or index cards.


Further accruals are not expected.

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