"My Personal Ruin Passes Unnoticed": Russell, Harvard, and the 1940 William James Lectureship


  • Michael D. Stevenson Lakehead University




This article analyzes the contentious debate among senior administrators of Harvard University regarding the choice of Russell as the 1940 William James Lecturer. In the aftermath of the City College of New York controversy, influential Harvard bureaucrats, alumni, and members of the general public pressured Harvard President James B. Conant to res­cind Russell’s appointment. Utilizing the Russell Archives, Conant’s private papers and Corporation records held at the Harvard Archives, and Grenville Clark’s papers at Dartmouth College, the nature of the complex deliberations surrounding Russell’s appointment and his status as a controversial public figure can be ascertained. Ultimately, Harvard stood by Russell, who delivered the James Lectures in the autumn 1940 term without incident, an engagement that ended Russell’s formal involvement with Harvard extending back to the pre-World War I period.