Paul Ramsey papers, 1934-1984 and undated

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Ramsey, Paul
24 Linear Feet
circa 14,500 items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Paul Ramsey span the years 1934 to 1984. Included are correspondence, memoranda, book reviews, typescripts, reprints, drafts of books and articles, clippings, lecture notes and outlines, course outlines, examinations and handouts, writings of Ramsey and others, news releases, theses and dissertations, and cassette tapes. The principal focus of the collection reflects the direction of the teaching and writing career of Ramsey, principally while a professor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. These primarily professional papers relate to his major fields of interest: theology, philosophy, and the humanities. In particular, Ramsey's chief specialty as a teacher and scholar has been Christian ethics, beginning with the publication of his classic, Basic Christian Ethics in 1950. There followed writings in ethical methodology, "situation ethics," marriage, and sexual ethics. In the 1960s he expanded the scope of his research and writing to include the ethics of warfare and nuclear deterrence, and in the 1970s turned to medical ethics topics, such as fetal research, abortion, and in vitro fertilization.

The Correspondence Series, which comprises about one-half of the collection, and the Writings and Speeches Series form the bulk of the Ramsey Papers. The Correspondence Series consists chiefly of office correspondence including letters from theologians and professors, institutions and organizations, and journals, such as the Journal of Religious Ethics, for which Ramsey served as chairman of the editorial board. Among the correspondents are the American Medical Association, Roland Herbert Bainton, Emil Brunner, Daniel Callahan, James M. Gustafson, Van Austin Harvey, Orrin Hatch, the Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences, Henry M. Jackson, Journal of Religious Ethics, Ernest W. Lefever, Richard A. McCormick, Rollo May, Abraham John Muste, the National Council of the Churches of Christ, the National Council on Religion in Higher Education, The New England Journal of Medicine, H. Richard Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr, Richard M. Nixon, Liston Pope, Quentin L. Quade, Warren T. Reich, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Sargent Shriver, John Edwin Smith, Elton Trueblood, Richard Preston Unsworth, Henry Pitney Van Dusen, and Worldview.

Both the Writings and Speeches Series and the Courses Series reflect the various areas of Christian ethics about which Ramsey wrote and taught. The papers in the Courses Series relate specifically to the three chief areas in which Ramsey taught: religion, philosophy, and the humanities. Of particular interest is the information relating to Karl Barth, especially the seminar on Karl Barth's church dogmatics.

The relatively small Academic and Professional Series relates chiefly to Princeton academic affairs, such as the graduate program in religion and committee work, and The Wesley Foundation. There also is material concerning conferences and programs, such as the Aspen Institute Seminar, the Conference on Life Sciences and Mankind, and Week of Work.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1913, Dec. 10
Born, Mendenhall, Mississippi.
B.S., Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss.
1937, June 23
Married Effie Register.
Instructor of history and social science, Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss.
B.D., Yale University.
Assistant Instructor, social philosophy, Yale University.
Assistant Professor, Christian ethics, Garrett Biblical Institute, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Ph.D., Yale University.
Professor of Religion at Princeton University.
Appointed Harrington Spear Paine Professor at Princeton University.
Vice President of the American Theological Society.
President of the American Theological Society.
Member of the Board of Trustees of Drew University and Trustee of the Council on Religion and International Affairs.
Awarded eight honorary degrees.
Member of the Center of Theological Inquiry.
1988, Feb. 29
Acquisition information:
The Paul Ramsey Papers were received in 1987, 1989, 1999, and 2012.
Processing information:

Processed by Sharon E. Knapp

Completed July 7, 1987

Encoded by Alvin Pollock

Additions encoded by Ted Holt, Nov. 2009

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

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Using These Materials


Portions of the collection are restricted.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in the papers of Paul Ramsey are reserved to him under the provisions of U. S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S.C.). For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], The Paul Ramsey Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.