- 1943-1970; predominant 1960-1970
Part of Bertrand Russell fonds
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.”