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The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell

On a bookshelf in the Bertrand Russell Research Centre is a set of blue, hard-bound volumes, all well-thumbed. These volumes, twenty-two and counting, reflect many years of researchers’ time and sweat, and constitute a sizeable portion of The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, a critical edition of all Russell’s shorter writings, published and unpublished, projected to be completed in 35 volumes.

Expandable List

Russell’s major, book-length works, both inside and outside the sphere of technical philosophy, remain in print and are an essential introduction to the man and his thought. But many of his more important or intriguing ideas were published as essays or journalism, or remained unpublished in manuscript form. There is a voluminous body of material in these categories in the Bertrand Russell Archives, which contain Russell’s complete papers and are one of McMaster University’s greatest treasures. Since Russell was such a provocative thinker on so broad a range of philosophical, social and political questions, and a writer who excelled with the essay form, it is vital that these shorter writings be made accessible in a single, definitive edition that elaborates on his ideas and concerns and illustrates the paths by which he arrived at his conclusions. The Bertrand Russell Editorial Project at McMaster University was conceived in order to meet this need.

The project began in 1969 under the auspices of the University librarian, William Ready. After much planning, but also realizing that a larger editorial team was needed, the original editors, Dr. Kenneth Blackwell and Dr. John G. Slater, professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, invited Dr. Nicholas Griffin, a McMaster logician and professor of philosophy, to join them.

The scope of Russell’s work still required a wider range of academics to edit his humanistic writings. In 1978, ten years after McMaster acquired the Russell Archives, Professor Alwyn Berland, Dean of Humanities and Chair of the project’s Board of Management, expanded the team to begin publication of the papers. The additional editors were Dr. Richard Rempel of History and Dr. Andrew Brink of English.

The collection would actually comprise two series. Roughly one-third of the volumes would include Russell’s earlier, so-called technical writings on philosophy, logic, science and mathematics. The others would reflect Russell’s interests in a large variety of other topics—political and social theory, war and peace, religion, education, women’s rights and morality. Included among the planned twenty-nine volumes would be Blackwell’s own bibliography of all of Russell’s published texts, on which he had been engaged with Harry Ruja since 1964.

Before the Editorial Project was set up in 1980, about 90 per cent of Russell’s 2,500 or so shorter public writings had never before been collected. About half the volumes in the Collected Papers have been published thus far. The edition has received widespread critical acclaim, proven invaluable as a research tool and stimulated Russell scholarship in a host of areas.

The Table of Contents for certain volumes of the Collected Papers underneath (volumes 10, 11, 15, 21, 28, and 29) contain links to a selection of Russell texts. The editorial apparatus—headnote, annotation, textual notes and bibliographical index entries—has also been uploaded for each of the chosen papers.

Embedded in the texts are invisible links to the annotations and textual notes. As you scroll through the PDF, watch for your cursor turning into a pointing finger then click your mouse. You can link back to the text by clicking the page of the page and line number supplied adjacent to each annotation or textual note. Alternatively, the annotations and textual notes can be accessed simply by scrolling down to the bottom of the web page. Bibliographical index entries have been placed in pop-up boxes linked to the year (highlighted in yellow) of the author–date reference. Some browsers will display the bibliographical information by moving the mouse over the link; others will require you to open the pop-up box with a mouse click.

The selected material includes some comparatively obscure texts as well as more familiar works—chosen because of the particular editorial challenges they posed.

From CPBR 10: A Fresh Look at Empiricism, 1927–42
3: My Religious Reminiscences [1938]
17: Probability and Fact [1930]
58: Freedom and Government [1940]

From CPBR 11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943–68
15: The Nature and Origin of Scientific Method [1948]
59: The Duty of a Philosopher in This Age [1964]
69: Is There a God? [1952]

From CPBR 15: Uncertain Paths to Freedom: Russia and China, 1919–22
6: Democracy and Direct Action [1919]
41: The Prospects of Bolshevik Russia [1921]
50: China’s Road to Freedom [1921]

From CPBR 21: How to Keep the Peace: The Pacifist Dilemma, 1935–38
1: On Isolationism [1935]
48: Auto-Obituary [1936]
99: The Crisis in Foreign Policy [1938]

From CPBR 24, Civilization and the Bomb, 1944–47
58: The Atomic Bomb [1945]

From CPBR 28, Man’s Peril, 1954–55
16: Man’s Peril [1954]
19: Trotsky in the Ascendant [1954]

From CPBR 29: Détente or Destruction, 1955–57
7: Prospects of Disarmament [1956]
34: Foreword to Freedom Is as Freedom Does [1956]
63: Britain and the H-bomb [1957]

Additionally, the Russell Editorial Project is offering an electronic version of an edition-in-progress of Russell’s first anti-nuclear writing. The electronic version has the full range of hypertext capabilities woven into the traditional Collected Papers structure of headnote, chronology, text, annotation, textual notes, bibliographical index, and illustrations.

Russell’s paper is called “The Atomic Bomb” (published as “The Bomb and Civilization”) and was written in 1945. The editor of this paper, which is scheduled to be in Volume 24, is Kenneth Blackwell. Let him know of any errors, and if you find the hypertext apparatus at all infelicitous. A conventional view of the headnote, paper and apparatus as they will be printed in the typeface of the edition is available in pdf format. This view is searchable, saveable, and printable.

Current Members

Kenneth Blackwell: Dr. Blackwell was appointed Russell Archivist in the McMaster Library in 1968. He was the Project’s Textual Editor until 1983. He co-edited Volumes 1 and 7 and has undertaken Volumes 24 and 25. (An edition-in-progress of Russell’s first anti-nuclear writing has been made available for comment.) With Harry Ruja he is responsible for the three-volume Bibliography of Bertrand Russell. Blackwell’s publications include The Spinozistic Ethics of Bertrand Russell, and he is editor of Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies. He retired as Russell Archivist in 1996, being granted the title of Honorary Russell Archivist. He continues to edit Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, and to work on the BRACERS database, a catalogue of the correspondence in the Russell Archives.

David Blitz of Central Connecticut State University has worked on the Russell Audio-Visual Project which has to date digitized numerous Russell recordings, including, among the more notable, his 1958 debate on disarmament with Edward Teller. Prof. Blitz is a member of the Department of Philosophy at CCSU, which he has served as chair. He has also acted as coordinator of the recently established CCSU Peace Studies Program.

Andrew Bone: Dr. Bone, who joined the Bertrand Russell Editorial Project in January 1997, is a specialist in Modern British History who completed a Ph.D. thesis on the operation of the Defence of the Realm Acts and Regulations in First World War Britain. He worked as an assistant editor on Volume 15 and has edited (most recently) Volume 26, Cold War Fears and Hopes, 1950–52, plus Volume 28, Man’s Peril, 1954–55, Volume 29, Détente or Destruction, 1955–57, as well as co-editing (with Michael Stevenson) Volume 21, How to Keep the Peace: The Pacifist Dilemma, 1935–38. In 2001 he was appointed Senior Research Associate, and he took over the general editorship of the edition after Nicholas Griffin’s retirement as director in the summer of 2018. He continues to assist several other editors with their volumes, as well as working (with Griffin and Stevenson) on Volume 16, Labour and Internationalism, 1922–25, and on another Cold War volume, 27, Culture and the Cold War, 1952–53.

William (Bill) Bruneau is editing Russell’s educational writings for Volumes 17–20 of the Collected Papers. His education as an historian and philosopher (Universities of Saskatchewan and Toronto), occasional studies at the Universities of Paris and Oxford, and a general sympathy for Russell’s social objectives, all led Bruneau to become actively interested in the life and work of Bertrand Russell from the early 1960s. A specialist in university history in the industrial and post-industrial periods, in Europe and Canada, and also in general educational policy,  Bruneau taught in the Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, from 1971 until his retirement, and is now a professor emeritus. His most recent books are Counting Out the Scholars: The Case Against Performance Indicators in Universities and Colleges (with D.C. Savage, 2001) and Jean Coulthard: A Life in Music (with D.G. Duke, 2005).

Arlene Duncan manages the office of the Bertrand Russell Research Centre and is a skilled typesetter who has keyed in most of the published volumes, the three-volume bibliography and all volumes in progress. She is also closely involved with the typesetting of Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, and with the transcription content in BRACERS that will become part of the Collected Letters.

Nicholas Griffin: In July 2000 Dr. Griffin assumed the dual roles of director of the new Bertrand Russell Research Centre at McMaster University and general editor of the Collected Papers, positions he held until his retirement from the department of philosophy (where he also held a Canada Research Chair) in the summer of 2018. Now a professor emeritus and the McMaster University Library Scholar in Residence, he has published widely on Russell—as an editor of Volumes 1 and 2 of the Collected Papers and of a two-volume selection of his letters, and as author of a number of studies, including Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship. He completed work on the Cambridge Companion to Russell in 2003; in addition to his Russell scholarship, Dr. Griffin is interested in the philosophy of logic and theory of knowledge. He is presently working on Volume 16 of the Collected Papers with Bone and Stevenson.

Stephen Heathorn is professor and former chair of the Department of History at McMaster. He is editing Volume 18 of the Collected Papers, and is also working on a monograph on Russell’s Marriage and Morals. He has published four books and some 30 peer-reviewed articles on various aspects of modern British History, and also co-edited Taking Liberties: A History of Human Rights in Canada. His most recent, co-authored, book is a revised edition of Britain since 1688: A Nation in the World.

Carl Spadoni is the former Director of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University and the editor of Volume 30, The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 1957–59. His association with Russell studies began in 1972–73 when he completed an M.A. in philosophy at McMaster. After completing his doctorate and MLS, he worked as the Assistant Russell Archivist under the guidance of his mentor, Kenneth Blackwell. Spadoni is the author and editor of 10 books and 100 other publications.

Michael D. Stevenson is an associate professor of history the Orillia campus of Lakehead University. A full-time member of the Centre’s staff from 2002 to 2006, Stevenson assisted the editors of several volumes in progress and co-edited (with Andrew Bone) Volume 21, How to Keep the Peace: The Pacifist Dilemma, 1935–38. He remains closely involved with the Collected Papers project and is presently working on Volumes 16 and 17. He has also served as editor of the Bertrand Russell Society’s twice-yearly Bulletin. Beyond the field of Russel studies he has edited two volumes of diplomatic correspondence in the Documents on Canadian External Relations series (covering the years 1957 and 1958); his many other publications in Canadian history include the scholarly monograph, Canada’s Greatest Wartime Muddle: National Selective and the Mobilization of Human Resources during World War II (2001).

Sheila Turcon, an M.A. in modern British history, wrote several of the chronologies, three general indexes and collaborated with Blackwell on the Bibliography. She has also worked with him on Volume 24. Turcon is the author of Bertrand Russell’s Odyssey: An Exhibition in Celebration of the Bertrand Russell Research Centre. For many years she worked part-time in Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University. She has edited Russell’s correspondence with Lady Constance Malleson, for the Collected Letters, and she is working on an ongoing project about Russell’s homes.

Other Members

James Chartrand worked intermittently at the Centre from 2002, when he was appointed Project Manager and Head Programmer for the Bertrand Russell Collected Letters project, until 2014. He designed a software platform for “linking” the thousands of digitized images of Russell letters to their corresponding entry in BRACERS.

Louis Greenspan: Dr. Greenspan, who sadly passed away in May 2018, was an emeritus professor in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster and director of the Bertrand Russell Editorial Project from 1994 to 1997 and its managing editor from 1986 to 1994. He also chaired the Bertrand Russell Archives Copyright Permissions Committee. Greenspan joined McMaster in 1967. In addition to his work on the Collected Papers (he was a co-editor of Volume 14), Russell was the subject of Greenspan’s Ph.D.; he has also conducted research on modern liberal thought and modern Jewish thought.

Gregory H. Moore: Dr. Moore (d. 2021) was an historian of mathematics, especially of the history of mathematical logic and set theory. He was an emeritus professor of mathematics at McMaster. He has published a well-received book on the history of the Axiom of Choice. In that book, as in many of Moore’s publications, Russell’s work on logic plays a substantial role. Volumes 3 and 5 of the Collected Papers were edited by Moore.

Richard Rempel: A professor emeritus of history at McMaster, Dr. Rempel was the director of the Editorial Project from 1997 until 2000 when work on the Collected Papers was subsumed under the new Bertrand Russell Research Centre. He edited or co-edited five volumes of the Collected Papers. He was also the Editorial Project’s coordinator in 1980 when McMaster was awarded $1.8 million (from SSHRC) over five years to publish The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. He was a member of the editorial board of the Bertrand Russell Editorial Project from 1980 to 1983. In 1986 he was awarded a SSHRC grant to complete a volume in The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. In the spring of 1994, Rempel was awarded a further SSHRC grant of $198,000 over three years to continue work on the non-technical volumes.

John Slater: Dr. Slater (d. 2022) was one of the five original editors who worked on Volume 1, Cambridge Essays, 1888–99. He went on to edit five other volumes in the philosophical series. His interest in the writings of Bertrand Russell goes back to his undergraduate days in the early 1950s when he was assigned some of his essays in a course. He began to read everything by the philosopher that he could find, and he also began to acquire his own copies of Russell’s books, many of which were out of print at that time on this side of the Atlantic. By the time Slater moved to the University of Toronto in 1964, he owned copies of most of Russell’s books. He has compiled the largest collection of his printed works in existence—some 10,000 items by and about him. He assisted in bringing the Russell Archives to McMaster. The original proposal for The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell was made in 1969 by Blackwell and Slater.

Alasdair Urquhart: A professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, Dr. Urquhart works in the general area of mathematical logic. He has also published work in universal algebra, lattice theory and computational complexity theory. Urquhart has been interested in Russell’s work in logic since he was an undergraduate student. He was inspired to work in mathematical logic after reading Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. In 1994 he completed work on Volume 4 of Russell’s Collected Papers.

Advisory Board for the Collected Papers

Kenneth Blackwell, Russell Centre, McMaster
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Nicholas Griffin, Russell Centre, McMaster
Caroline Moorehead OBE, FRSL
Charles Pigden, University of Otago
Alan Ryan, Oxford University
Anthony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
Kirk Willis, University of Georgia
Lawrence S. Wittner, SUNY, Albany


Major donors to the Bertrand Russell Editorial Project have been:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Atkinson Foundation
Cyrus Eaton Foundation
Metcalf Foundation
Samuel Rogers Memorial Trust
Trinity College, Cambridge (The Newton Trust)
Tokyo Club
Richard Buckingham

The McMaster University Edition

Published by Routledge.

To explore the 35 tables of contents and c.3,300 paper titles, search the combined tables of contents.


Cambridge Essays, 1888–99 [1983]


Philosophical and Logical Series

2: Philosophical Papers, 1896–99 [1990]
3: Toward the “Principles of Mathematics”, 1900–02 [1993]
4: Foundations of Logic, 1903–05 [1994]
5: Toward “Principia Mathematica”, 1905–08 [2014]
6: Logical and Philosophical Papers, 1909–13 [1992]
7: Theory of Knowledge: the 1913 Manuscript [1984; paperbound, 1992]
8: The Philosophy of Logical Atomism and Other Essays, 1914–19 [1986]
9: Essays on Language, Mind and Matter, 1919–26 [1988]
10: A Fresh Look at Empiricism, 1927–42 [1996]*
11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943–68 [1997]*


Political and Cultural Series

12: Contemplation and Action, 1902–14 [1985]
13: Prophecy and Dissent, 1914–16 [1988]
14: Pacifism and Revolution, 1916–18 [1995]
15: Uncertain Paths to Freedom: Russia and China, 1919–22 [2000]*
16: Labour and Internationalism, 1922–25 [in progress]
17: Authority versus Enlightenment, 1925–27 [in progress]
18: Behaviourism and Education, 1927–31 [in progress]
19: Science and Civilization, 1931–33 [in progress]
20: Fascism and Other Depression Legacies, 1933–34 [in progress]
21: How to Keep the Peace: The Pacifist Dilemma, 1935–38 [2008]*
22: The CCNY Case, 1938–40 [in progress]
23: The Problems of Democracy, 1941–44 [in progress]
24: Civilization and the Bomb, 1944–47 [in progress]*
25: Defence of the West, 1948–50 [in progress]
26: Cold War Fears and Hopes, 1950–52 [2020]
27: Culture and the Cold War, 1952–53 [in progress]
28: Man’s Peril, 1954–55 [2003]*
29: Détente or Destruction, 1955–57 [2005]*
30: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 1957–59 [in progress]
31: The Committee of 100, 1960–62 [in progress]
32: A New Plan for Peace and Other Essays, 1963–64
33: The Vietnam Campaign, 1965–66
34: International War Crimes Tribunal, 1967–70


New Papers and Indexes

35: Newly Discovered Papers [in progress]
36: Indexes [in progress]

A Bibliography of Bertrand Russell

I: Separate Publications, 1896–1990 [1994]
II: Serial Publications, 1890–1990 [1994]
III: Indexes [1994]