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COLLECTION Identifier: HUGFP 118

Papers of Judith N. Shklar,


Judith Nisse Shklar was an eminent political theorist and a pioneering female faculty member at Harvard University. These papers consist chiefly of teaching materials and lecture notes, which cover Shklar's prolific career in the Dept. of Government at Harvard, and provide evidence of her strong emphasis on scholarship.


  • 1950-1992


Conditions on Use and Access

Permission of the Harvard University Archives is required for access to the Papers of Judith N. Shklar. Additional restrictions may apply to some material; see restriction note in Recommendations subseries. Please see the reference staff for further details.


8 cubic feet (23 document boxes)
These papers reflect Judith N. Shklar's prolific career in the Dept. of Government at Harvard University, as well as her strong emphasis on scholarship. The bulk of the papers consists of the teaching and research materials that she developed and used during her career as well as her lectures, addresses, and writings. The papers include a relatively small amount of correspondence between Shklar and colleagues and professional associations with which she was associated. Although only a small amount of biographical material appears in this collection, it reveals the high amount of admiration and respect Shklar inspired during her career.

Biography of Judith N. Shklar

Judith Nisse Shklar (1928-1992) was an eminent political theorist and a pioneering female faculty member at Harvard.

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1928 to German-speaking Jews, Shklar arrived in the United States during World War II. Her childhood experiences were a strong influence on her career as a political theorist. Her area of expertise was eighteenth-century politics, especially Jean-Jaques Rousseau. Although she herself was reluctant to be categorized, her politics could perhaps best be termed "liberalism of fear," or "liberalism of permanent minorities." "Dita" received the B.A. and M.A. degrees from McGill University in 1949 and 1950, and earned her Ph.D. at Harvard in 1955.

Shklar taught government at Harvard in the following capacities: Instructor (1956-1959), Assistant Professor (1959-1963), Lecturer (1963-1970), Professor of Government (1970-1992) and John Cowles Professor of Government (1980-1992). She served as the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University, Cambridge, England from 1983-1984. She was the Carlyle Lecturer at Oxford (1986), the Storrs Lecturer at Yale University (1988), and the Tanner Lecturer at the University of Utah (1989). She was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching prize in 1985, and was a senior fellow of the Harvard Program in Ethics and the Professions.

Shklar held fellowships from the American Association of University Women, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and All Souls College, Oxford. She served as President of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (1982), as Vice President of the American Political Science Association (1983), and as the first female President of the American Political Science Association (1989).

She was the author or editor of nine books, including After Utopia, (1957), Legalism, (1964), Political Theory and Ideology, (1966), Men and Citizens: A study of Rousseau's Social Theory, (1969), Freedom and Independence: A study of the Political Ideas of Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, (1976), Ordinary Vices, (1984), Montesquieu, (1987), The Faces of Injustice, (1990), and American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion, (1991). Shklar died in September 1992 at the age of sixty-three. In the words of former Harvard president Neil L. Rudenstine, Shklar "was the inventor of her own poetics: powerful, vivacious, pointed, and inimitable."

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. Biographical material, 1980-1992
  2. Student course material, 1950-1952
  3. Correspondence, 1959-1992
  4. ___General correspondence, 1959-1992
  5. ___Recommendations, 1971-1983
  6. ___Professional organizations, 1989-1992
  7. Teaching material, 1958-1992
  8. ___Course material, 1958-1992
  9. ___Lecture notes, 1958-1992
  10. ___Lecture notes by historical period, 1958-1992
  11. Writings, 1958-1992
  12. Speeches, 1966-1990
  13. Notes, 1984-1988 and undated

Acquisition Information

  1. Accession number: 12617; 1993 January 14.
  2. Accession number: 12833; 1994 February 24.
  3. Accession number: 14247; 2000 December 6.

Related Material

See also works by or about Judith N. Shklar catalogued in HOLLIS Harvard's online library information system

General note

This document last updated 2006 May 12.

Processing Information

Processed by Harvard University Archives staff ca. 1994. Juliana Kuipers re-processed the existing collection and added accession 14247 in March-June 2004. Re-processing included the establishment of series and sub-series and the integration of accession 14247 into the collection. All old classification numbers were made obsolete. The processor placed all material in acid-free folders, removed paper clips, and re-housed material in document boxes. Drafts and galley proofs of Shklar's writings, Shklar's reference library and any duplicates found in the collection were weeded and discarded according to the University Archives' collection policy. Details about the processing and arrangement of each series are noted below. In all respects, the archivist attempted to retain and preserve the original arrangement and existing relationships of the documents as established by Shklar.
Link to catalog
Shklar, Judith N. Papers of Judith N. Shklar: an inventory.
Harvard University Archives

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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