Series 710 - Personal correspondence

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Personal correspondence

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  • 1888-1970 (Creation)

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Physical description

13.35 m of textual records (121 boxes)

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Scope and content

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.

Notes area

Physical condition

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The bulk of the series is arranged in two alphabetical sequences by name of correspondent: Archives 1 (boxes 5.1-5.58) and Archives 2 (boxes 10.47-10.52), which correspond with BRACERS document number order. In a few cases, letters are grouped and filed under a subject heading, such as ‘China’ in Archives 1, which contains letters and other documents relating to Russell’s trip to China with his future wife, Dora Black. The family correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent in boxes 8.1-8.2 and 8.7-8.25. Finally, the correspondence between Russell and Ottoline Morrell (boxes 2.37-2.70 and 2.72-2.74) is arranged chronologically in three groups: (1) Russell's incoming correspondence, (2) Russell's outgoing correspondence, and (3) typed transcripts of Russell's incoming correspondence.

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Restrictions on access

Access to most of the series is not restricted. However, as per the original acquisition agreement, access to material relating to Russell's family is restricted until 5 years after the death of the individual concerned. As of 2016, all of those restrictions have expired with the exception of those relating to Russell's daughter, Katharine (Russell) Tait, and to Russell's grandchildren.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

For a listing of the letters in this series, use the advanced search screen of BRACERS. In the “Class” field, enter series number: 710. If looking for a particular correspondent, enter his/her name in the "Sender(s)" or "Recipient(s)" field.

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General note

Box numbers for this series: 2.37-2.70, 2.72-2.74, 5.01-5.58, 10.47-10.52, 8.01-8.02, 8.07-8.25, 11.69

Document numbers for this series: 710.053099-710.053299, 710.081281-710.082854, 710.103001-710.104270, 710.104619-710.104789, 710.104809-710.104976, and 710.110001-710.112657. Note that the documents in boxes 2.47-2.48, 2.53-2.70 and 11.69 are not numbered.

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