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The New Commonwealth

Series consists of correspondence, reports, proposals, a questionnaire, a news clipping, pamphlets, statements, essays, and articles relating to the activities of the New Commonwealth society, which had been founded in 1932 and had interests in world government and the control of atomic weapons; they also produced the New Commonwealth Quarterly which featured articles by Russell. Russell undertook a lecture tour on the continent on the society's behalf in 1947. Series was acquired as part of Archives 1.

World government, 1953-1965

Series consists of correspondence, circulars, meeting minutes, invitations, news clippings, statements, and booklets relating to Russell's interest in world government, and his engagement with groups such as the Parliamentary Group for World Government, Parliamentary Association for World Government, and World Association of Parliamentarians for World Government. Letters from Russell are typescript copies. Some of the material dated 1955 overlaps with series 600 Peace Activities.

Congress for Cultural Freedom

Series largely consists of Russell's correspondence with the Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Committee on Science and Freedom as well as reports relating to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, meeting minutes, news clippings, and bulletins. Letters from Russell are typescript copies. The Congress was concerned with the defense of intellectual freedom, particularly in eastern Europe. Russell was an honorary president but severed ties in 1956 because of the anti-communist position of the Congress' American branch. Series acquired as part of Archives 1.

The Family Planning Association and related correspondence

Series consists of correspondence, news clippings, statements, copies of various journals, printed essays, pamphlets, bulletins, and articles illustrating Russell's interest in and support of birth control. Among the more voluminous publications are issues of the bulletin News of Population and Birth Control from 1956-1965 and of the journal Family Planning from Dec. 1952 until Dec. 1963, which are filed at the end of the series. Letters from Russell are typescript copies; includes some drafts. Acquired as part of Archives 1.

Peace activities

Series consists of correspondence and printed material relating to Russell's anti-nuclear warfare activities during 1953-1955, including the broadcast of "Man's Peril", 23 Dec 1954, the development of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto (including correspondence with Einstein), and other matters. Letters from Russell are typescript copies. Acquired as part of Archives 1.

Pugwash movement

Series consists of correspondence, 1956-1966, the published proceedings of the 2nd-13th Pugwash Conferences, reports of various Conferences, agendas and minutes of the 1st-3rd and 10th Conferences, as well as minutes of some Pugwash Continuing Committee meetings. Other printed materials include news clippings, booklets, offprints, statements, and two published histories of the Pugwash movement, including ‘The Pugwash Movement: Its History and Aim’, London, 1960 (in box 1.39). Of particular note is the correspondence between Russell and Cyrus Eaton, the primary financier of the Pugwash Conferences; correspondence with Conference co-founder Joseph Rotblat; and letters written by Lady Edith Russell and Anne Eaton. Letters from Russell are typescript copies. The Pugwash Conferences were an outgrowth of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, bringing international scientists together to reflect on the social consequences of their work; the first Conference took place in 1957; Russell was not in attendance. Most of this series was acquired as part of Archives 1, with additional items acquired with Archives 2.

Nuclear disarmament

Series consists of material reflecting Russell’s activity and leadership with such groups as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Committee of 100, and other peace organizations and protest groups. Included are correspondence, drafted and official statements, news clippings, forms, and minutes as well as copies of booklets, leaflets, flyers, circular letters, and bulletins. Includes correspondence with Canon L. John Collins, among others. Correspondence of Russell’s secretary, Ralph Schoenmann, who was heavily involved in the formation of the Committee of 100, is also included. Letters from Russell are typescript copies.

Acquired with both Archives 1 and Archives 2. The print Archives 2 finding aid reads in part: “Beginning in 1962, these files continue the CND files of Archives I. then there is a file of detailed draft and official statements concerning the split between Russell and Canon Collins. Russell subsequently resigned from CND. The files continue with Committee of 100 documents--letters, statements, mimeographed minutes, etc.--ending shortly after Russell's resignation as President of the Committee early in 1963. A second box is full of leaflets and other printed ephemera.”

World affairs

Series relates to Russell’s involvement in international affairs, especially regarding issues of peace. By 1963, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation had been established, and the affairs of the BRPF are also reflected here. Accordingly, there is some overlap with the BRPF series (311 onward). There is also overlap with series 640 Heads of State. The files are arranged alphabetically by name of country, and also include material relating to the United Nations. The U.S.A. files are the most voluminous and include sub-sections relating to ‘The Fallout Suits’ (Linus Pauling), the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Anti-Goldwater Campaign, and the International War Crimes Tribunal.

Included are correspondence (including letters to editors), circular letters, statements, news clippings, reports, speeches, leaflets, interviews, and newsletters; letters from Russell are typescript copies. Acquired as part of Archives 1.

Heads of State

Series consists predominately of correspondence with heads of state and other political leaders in various countries relating to issues of international politics, including the Cuban missile crisis, the Sino-Indian border dispute, the war in Vietnam, Arab-Israeli relations, etc. Among the correspondents are Chou En-lai (Zhou Enlai) of China, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Ayub Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, Nikita Krushchev of the USSR, Secretary General U Thant of the United Nations, Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, and many others. Letters from Russell and his staff are typescript copies.

By 1963, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation had been established, and the affairs of the BRPF are also reflected here. Accordingly, there is some overlap with the BRPF series (311 onward). There is also overlap with series 640 World Affairs. The files are arranged alphabetically by name of country, and also include material relating to the United Nations.

Series was acquired as part of Archives 1.

Personal correspondence

Series consists of correspondence acquired with Archives 1 and 2. (It should be noted, however, that correspondence continues to be acquired). The scope of this series is vast both in terms of the time period covered and the topics and correspondents featured. The letters range from Russell’s teen years to the last year of his life. While the series is called ‘personal’ correspondence to distinguish it from his more ‘political’ correspondence featured in the 300, 500 and 600 series, as well as his publishing (400) and legal (800) correspondence, it touches on all aspects of his life, including philosophy, peace, social issues, love affairs and family matters.

Included is correspondence with Russell's wives Alys (Pearsall Smith) Russell, Dora (Black) Russell, Patricia (Spence) Russell, and Edith (Finch) Russell; Russell's children, Conrad, John Conrad, and Katharine (Tait); the wives of his brother, Frank; and Russell's lovers, Ottoline Morrell and Constance Malleson.

In terms of large volumes of letters received from particular individuals, some of the most notable—in addition to the above—include:
• Margaret Llewelyn Davies
• Lucy M. Donnelly
• Helen Flexner
• Ken Holland
• Harold Kastner
• Corliss Lamont
• Hiram J. McLendon
• Catherine Marshall
• Gilbert Murray
• Victor Purcell
• Charles Percy Sanger
• F.C.S. Schiller
• Ralph Schoenman
• Lucy Silcox
• Lord (Ernest) Simon of Wythenshawe
• Alfred North Whitehead
• Ludwig Wittgenstein
• Alan Wood

Other notable correspondents include:
• Muhammad Ali
• A.J. Ayer
• Max Born
• F.H. Bradley
• Martin Buber
• Georg Cantor
• Joseph Conrad
• Albert Einstein
• T.S. Eliot
• E.M. Forster
• Erich Fromm
• Gottlob Frege
• Roger Fry
• Aldous and Julian Huxley
• William James
• Augustus John
• Philip Jourdain
• John Lennon and Yoko Ono
• Katherine Mansfield
• Spike Milligan
• G.E. Moore
• Giuseppe Peano
• Vanessa Redgrave
• George Santayana
• Siegfried Sassoon
• Albert Schweitzer
• George Bernard Shaw
• Rabindranath Tagore
• Charles, George and Robert Trevelyan
• H.G. Wells
• Rebecca West

Some of the letters received have been annotated by Russell. In many cases, carbon copies of Russell’s outgoing letters are included; in more recent years, copies of Russell’s replies were typed on the verso of the original letters received. In a few cases, there are also original letters written and sent by Russell that found their way back to him or the archive--for example, those written to Margaret Llewelyan Davies and Lucy Donnelly.

Miscellaneous personal documents

This series consists of over 20 discrete personal items, including three passports (1919, 1931-36, 1941-46); certified copies of Russell's birth certificate and death certificate, including correspondence relating to his cremation; visa to Soviet Russia, 1920, and other travel documents; various membership cards; two vaccination records; lists of earnings and royalties; schedule of lectures in the U.S. for 1927; photographs of his children (Kate and John); sheet photographs of children at Beacon Hill School; and other material. Received with both Archives 1 and 2.

Patricia Spence correspondence (letters received)

Series consists of mostly letters received by Patricia (Peter) Spence from a variety of correspondents, including Russell’s daughter, Kate (Katharine Tait); Spence’s mother, “Mrs. Spence”; Gamel Brenan, Gerald Brenan, Alice Crunden, Moya Llewelyn Davies, Joan Malleson, Miles Malleson, Ottoline Morell, Edna Pearce; and many others. As noted in the RA2 finding aid: “Some letters are addressed to Russell and a few others to both.” Received as part of Archives 2.

Patricia would become Russell’s third wife in 1936. She had served as governess to Russell’s children, Kate and John. Russell separated from the children’s mother, Dora Black, in 1932; they were divorced in 1936.

Letters from the general public / miscellaneous correspondence

As noted in the Archives 2 print finding aid: “This category of correspondence is formed from those letters that belong neither to series 710, Personal Correspondence, nor to the political, family or publishing series.” While “most of these letters are repetitive in content (e.g., requesting Russell's autograph) and did not elicit significant replies,” some of them touch on his philosophical writings or offer support for his anti-war or anti-nuclear activities. Replies from Russell are typescript copies. Series acquired with both Archives 1 and 2.

The series reflects the influence of Edith Russell on Russell’s filing habits. Prior to 1952, Russell filed the types of letters found here with his Personal Correspondence (series 710). Beginning in 1952, these letters started to be filed separately.


Series consists of letters addressed to Russell which are written in a nonsensical, ridiculous and/or indignant manner. Some crank mail elicited a response from Russell or his secretary, Ralph Schoenman, and may include typescript copies of replies, but most letters were left unanswered. A considerable amount of letters are from Peter Askey; one box (11.82) contains only letters received from him. Many letters were also sent anonymously.

Acquired as part of Archives 2, the print finding aid for which states: “Every well-known figure must receive crank mail, but Russell seems to have received more than his share. Possibly it was his reputation as a sage that attracted the letters. His staff regularly annotated such mail "crank". … While there may be nothing so dismal as an anonymous crank letter, pseudonymous crank letters can be very entertaining. See, for example, the letters and enclosed "cheques" (ranging from $5000 to $2,000,000,000) from the Virgin Express Alexandra I.”

Christmas cards, 1950-1969

Series consists of approximately 1,500 cards wishing Russell a Merry Christmas and/or a Happy New Year as well as some typescript copies of replies written by Russell and Edith Russell. Includes cards from family members, friends, and other individuals or organizational bodies.

Birthday cards, 1950-1969

Series consists of approximately 500 cards congratulating Russell on his birthdays over the years 1950-1969. Includes cards from family members, friends, and other individuals and organizational bodies. Most were acquired with Archives 1, while a few cards dated 1961 were acquired with Archives 2.

90th Birthday mementoes/tribute

Russell's 90th birthday on 18 May 1962 was celebrated the next evening at the Royal Festival Hall in London with a musical tribute. Series consists primarily of birthday letters/cards received by Russell from individuals and organizations all over the world, as well as copies of his replies. As noted in the Archives 2 print finding aid, series also includes letters “written chiefly in response to Ralph Schoenman's requests for tributes to be printed in the tribute booklet, Into the Tenth Decade (1962).” Also found in the series are a program for the musical tribute and a signed scroll presented by British Members of Parliament.

95th Birthday letters

As noted in the Archives 2 print finding aid, "Russell's 95th birthday was on 18 May 1967. There was no public celebration, but some members of the public and friends sent their congratulations to him." Those congratulations are contained in this series of approximately 150 letters.

Condolences on Russell's death: answered by Lady Russell

As noted in the Archives 2 print finding aid, "Edith Russell received many condolences" following Bertrand Russell's death on 2 February 1970 and "she personally replied to" those included in this series (though copies of her replies are not here). Of note are letters from Dora Russell and John Conrad Russell offering condolences and revealing that they had intended to visit Russell just before his death.

Condolences on Russell's death: general

Series consists of condolences on Russell's death addressed to the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, members of Russell's staff, or his wife Edith Russell. The condolences are from various individuals and organizations who knew Russell personally or were influenced by his life's work. Includes some typed copies of replies from Ken Coates and Christopher Farley, often on behalf of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation or his wife Edith Russell.

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