Paul A. Samuelson papers, 1933-2010

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Samuelson, Paul A. (Paul Anthony), 1915-2009
Paul Samuelson (1915-2009) was a Nobel Prize winner and an Institute Professor Emeritus (of economics) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This collection documents his professional life through his correspondence, writings and speeches, and professional and faculty activies. It was acquired as part of the Economists' Papers Archive.
120 Linear Feet (156 boxes.)
5 Megabytes (One set.)
Material in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collections covers nearly all aspects of Samuelson's long career. Materials are arranged in the original order maintained by Samuelson, and include his professional correspondence files; unpublished writings, notes, drafts and fragments; audiovisual materials; documents regarding awards, including the Nobel Prize; files relating to various grants, committees, and projects; teaching materials from his years at MIT; files of speeches; and publication files, including professional and mainstream media articles. Significant correspondents include Milton Friedman, Don Patinkin, and Robert Solow, as well as many other notable economists, Nobel prize winners, politicians, and scientists. Material can also be found on economic programs at institutions such as MIT, where Samuelson established a renowned economics faculty. Researchers will find materials representing Samuelson's work on diverse topics of economic theory, including the history of economic thought (post-Keynesian economics, neoclassical economics, and thinkers such as Marx, Sraffa, and Ricardo), financial economics, growth theory, international finance, inflation, stability, welfare economics, post-World War economic policies and stabilization, stochastic analysis, utility, monetary policy, Marxist economics, biological economics (including population and gender studies), thermodynamics, and mathematical economics. Samuelson's insights on many of these subjects serve as organizational themes for large sections in the Unpublished Writings series. Finally, the Samuelson papers also document his strong contributions to the US government, especially his work for the Federal Reserve, and to federally-funded projects, professional committees and boards, and organizations and societies, beginning in the 1940s and continuing throughout his career.

The Correspondence series spans Samuelson's entire career, beginning in the 1930s. It consists mainly of professional exchanges with his colleagues in the US and other countries. There are also files of correspondence with a wide variety of political and academic figures, presses, and media organizations. There is frequent correspondence with President Kennedy, for whom he was an economic advisor. Besides the named folders that represent notable economists such as Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Franco Modigliani, Don Patinkin, and Robert Solow, there are general correspondence folders in which a variety of documents are chronologically arranged. There is also a large group of files relating to the publication of his textbooks. Additional correspondence can be found in almost all the other series.

A large series of Unpublished Writings contains many folders of unpublished articles, extensive research notes, jotted-down insights, and other fragmentary writings. The earliest pieces appear to be a typescript of Samuelson's 1933 diary and writings on collective bargaining (1933-1934). The wide range of topics in economic theory as well as the history of economics reflects Samuelson's interests over many decades, beginning with his work on Marx and the Transformation Problem, and later on, focusing more specifically on financial economics. The unpublished writings also reveal that he also wrote extensively on population and gender studies, thermodynamics, and mathematics.

The equally large Printed Material series houses a nearly complete collection of Samuelson's published articles in addition to a few of his monographs. In some cases, article folders include extensive correspondence between Samuelson and his editors and publishers. Located in this series is a copy of the thesis that Samuelson wrote while he was at Harvard University, which in 1947 was published as the well-known Foundations of Economic Analysis. Also present in this series are the many columns and articles he wrote for Newsweek in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other aspects of Samuelson's career can be found in course files that form the Teaching series, most of which contain reading lists and syllabi, and in the Committees and Projects series, which contains information on his many consultancy roles, grant-funded projects, and professional service. Examples include projects for the Radiation Laboratory and the Rand Corporation, and contributions to government agencies such as the US War Production Board and the Federal Reserve Board, as well as academic organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Science, and the Econometric Society.

The smallest series of the collection, the Awards series contains materials relating to Samuelson's Nobel Prize in Economics in 1970 and his Medal of Science award in 1996, as well as several honorary doctorates that he received. Files contain congratulatory letters and telegrams and his outgoing correspondence to subsequent Nobel Prize winners. In contrast to this small series, the large Speeches and Interviews series houses paper drafts or transcripts of nearly all of Samuelson's public presentations, amounting to over 400 lectures, speeches, and interviews. Some of these can also be found on recorded media in the Audiovisual Material series.

The Audiovisual Material series features 320 cassettes from the commercially produced "Economics Cassettes Series," a set of interviews with Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson on economics issues of the times. There are also a few tapes and cassettes of lectures and speeches by Samuelson. Items related to the topics and events represented in this series are also found in the Teaching, Speeches and Interviews, and Awards series. There is a DVD recording of the 2010 MIT memorial service which provides many images of Samuelson taken throughout his life, filling in for the absence of photographs in the collection.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1915, May 15
Born in Gary, IN; son of Russian-born parents
Graduated from Hyde Park High School, Chicago
BA, University of Chicago
Pre-doctoral Fellow, Social Science Research Council
MA, Harvard University
Society of Fellows, Harvard University
Assistant Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
PhD (David A. Wells Prize), Harvard University
Associate Professor of Economics, MIT
Professor of Economics, MIT
Guggenheim Fellow
Ford Faculty Research Fellow
Institute Professor, MIT
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Albert Einstein Commemorative Award
Gordon Y. Billard Fellow, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT
Gold Scanno Prize in Economy
MIT established Paul A. Samuelson Professorship in Economics
National Medal of Science
2009, Dec. 13
Died in Belmont, MA
Acquisition information:
The Paul A. Samuelson papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library as gifts from Janice Murray in 2010-2011, 2016, and William Samuelson in 2023.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, September 2010; José Edwards, Carrie Mills, Muhammad Shehryar, and Mark Wilson, July 2011; Hyeeyoung Kim, October 2017; Vincent Carret, June 2023.

Encoded by José Edwards, Paula Jeannet, Carrie Mills, Muhammad Shehryar, and Mark Wilson, August 2011.

Electronic records processed by Zachary Tumlin, June 2023.

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2010-0147, 2010-0180, 2010-0228, 2011-0009, 2011-0044, 2011-0070, 2016-0058, and 2023-0100.


The Paul A. Samuelson papers are arranged into eight series: Audiovisual Material, Awards, Committees and Projects, Correspondence, Printed Material, Speeches and Interviews, Teaching, and Unpublished Writings.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Paul A. Samuelson papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.