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COLLECTION Identifier: HUM 48.1

Books from the personal library of John Rawls, 1915-2002

John Rawls (1921-2002) was one of the most significant political and moral philosophers of the twentieth century and is credited with reviving the social contract tradition in social and moral philosophy. These books selected from Rawls's personal library contain extensive annotations and notes from readings in economics, moral philosophy, and social theory, and offer a view of the works that interested Rawls and may have influenced his own work.

Dates

  • 1915-2002

Conditions on Use and Access

Permission of the University Archives is required for access to the Personal Library of John Rawls. Please consult the reference staff for further details. Additional restrictions may apply.

Extent

19 cubic feet (19 record cartons)

This collection represents a selection of books pertaining to philosophy, economics, and social theory from the personal library of John Rawls. These volumes were chosen because they provide an important resource for research into the origins and development of Rawls's concept of a just liberal society, known as justice as fairness. This library offers a look into what Rawls read, his thoughts about the ideas and theories presented in these books, the influences these books may have had on him, and the wide range of Rawls’s reading.

Most of the books in this library include Rawls's ownership inscription, extensive annotations, and personal indexing on the endpapers. Some books have news clippings, notes, book reviews, letters, and a photograph (presumably used as a book mark), inserted into them. Many of these books were given to Rawls by other well known philosophers and include brief sentiments or appreciative comments written to him on the title pages.

This library includes both soft and hardcover books, offprints, and drafts of papers. Some of the books are in German and French.

This collection does not include all the books in Rawls's personal library.

All book titles are included in HOLLIS, the Harvard online catalog.

Biographical Essay

John Rawls (1921-2002), James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, was one of the most significant political and moral philosophers of the twentieth century and is credited with reviving the social contract tradition in social and moral philosophy. Rawls's theories of a just liberal society, known as justice as fairness, greatly influenced the fields of political science, economics, sociology, theology, and the law.

Biographical / Historical John Rawls (1921-2002), James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, was one of the most significant political and moral philosophers of the twentieth century and is credited with reviving the social contract tradition in social and moral philosophy. Rawls's theories of a just liberal society, known as justice as fairness, greatly influenced the fields of political science, economics, sociology, theology, and the law.

Arrangement

The books in this collection remain boxed in the order in which they were found in each accession. The list is arranged alphabetically by author.

Acquisition Information

The personal library of John Rawls was acquired through donation from Professor Rawls and his family.
  1. Accession number: 15085; 2004 July 14
  2. Accession number: 17313; 2006 March 21
  3. Accession number: 17818; 2008 June 29
  4. Accession number: 18116; 2010 March 12

Related Material in the Harvard University Archives

  1. Papers of John Rawls, 1942-2003http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.ARCH:hua32010 (20 cubic feet) : this collection contains Rawls's lecture and teaching materials, writings, correspondence, subject files, research notes, biographical materials, and papers by other scholars (HUM 48).
  2. Harvard University. Photographs: portrait files,http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.ARCH:hua04006 includes photographs of John Rawls.
  3. Lelyveld, David. Notes and papers for course on political philosophy. This collection consists of handwritten notes and a paper entitled International Law and Extra-National Justice, with comments by John Rawls (HUC 8960.370).
  4. Rawls, John, Biographical File (HUG 300).
  5. Search HOLLIS (Harvard's online library system) for other works by and about John Rawls and the books in this collection.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 August 9.

Processing Information

Processed October-November 2010 by Dominic P. Grandinetti, Kate Bowers, and Julie Revak.

Loose offprints, reprints, photocopies of journal articles, book chapters, and manuscript drafts were housed in acid-free folders. Notes, articles, news clippings, letters, and a photograph (presumably used as a book mark) inserted in Rawls's books were left in the locations in which they were found, but reformatted or enclosed for preservation. News clippings and notes were either photocopied onto acid-free paper or placed in acid-free envelopes. Some books were placed in accordion folders or tied together, along with their inserted material. One photograph was enclosed in a mylar sleeve.

Each book has been cataloged in HOLLIS.
Link to catalog
Title
Rawls, John, 1921-2002. Books from the personal library of John Rawls, 1915-2002 : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
EAD ID
hua36010

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.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461