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At a Glance
Material is arranged into three series.
The collection is primarily composed of Randolph Silliman Bourne's correspondence and manuscripts, the majority of which date from approximately 1910 through 1918. The original manuscript of "The State"—one of the works for which he is best known, despite its being unfinished at the time of his death—is present. Other essays, published and unpublished at the time of Bourne's death, and several poems are included. A small group of letters, unpublished manuscripts, and published works about Bourne are also included in Series III.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Randolph Silliman Bourne papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Arthur Whittier Macmahon Papers: Papers of Bourne's Columbia University classmate and friend, who became the university's Eaton Professor of Public Administration. Includes correspondence between Bourne and Macmahon, as well as notes and correspondence about Bourne. At the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
Alyse Gregory Papers: Papers of Randolph Bourne's close friend and biographer Alyse Gregory, containing correspondence between Bourne and Gregory dating from 1913 through 1918, as well as Gregory's biography of Bourne. Some of the letters may have originally been included in the Bourne correspondence given to Columbia University by Agnes de Lima. At the Beinecke Library, Yale University.
Agnes de Lima Collection of Alyse Gregory: Includes letters from Gregory to de Lima discussing Gregory's biography of Randolph Bourne and de Lima's memories of Bourne. At the Beinecke Library, Yale University.
Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant Papers: Papers of Bourne's friend and fellow New Republic contributor. Includes correspondence between Sergeant and Bourne dating from 1915 to 1916. At the Beinecke Library, Yale University.
James Oppenheim Papers: Papers of Bourne's Seven Arts publisher, fellow World War I opponent, and elegist James Oppenheim. At the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library.
Alternate Form Available
Boxes 1-10 have: microfilm copy.
Ownership and Custodial History
Gift of Agnes De Lima, 1955-1966; gift of John Moreau, 1966; gift of Mrs. Arthur W. MacMahon, 1978.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 04/07/89.
2009-06-26 File created.
2013-03-25 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
2019-02-04 Finding aid updated by Celeste Brewer: related materials and custodial history notes added; biographical and scope and content notes revised; and Series III added to better distinguish between items created or owned by Bourne, and items created after his death.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Randolph Silliman Bourne was a radical leftist intellectual and essayist. He was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey in 1886. His difficult birth left him with facial scars from an improper forceps delivery, and a bout of spinal tuberculosis at the age of four curved his spine and stunted his growth. His essay "The Handicapped—By One of Them," published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1911, is a foundational work in disability studies. Bourne is best known for his essays in The Seven Arts and The New Republic that sharply criticized U.S. involvement in World War I and that took American intellectuals, notably his former mentor John Dewey, to task for their support of U.S. interventionist policy.
Bourne attended Columbia University, where he studied under John Dewey and Charles Beard. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912 and a Master's in 1913. He was a contributor to, and eventually editor of, the Columbia Monthly. While enrolled at Columbia, Bourne also published regularly in the Atlantic Monthly; his collected essays for that magazine were published as Youth and Life by Houghton Mifflin in 1913.
From 1913 to 1914, Bourne studied in Europe on Columbia University's Richard Watson Gilder Fellowship. After returning to New York, he resumed his writing career, publishing extensively in The New Republic and The Dial, and in other outlets. He also published The Gary Schools (1916) and Education and Living (1917) books advocating for progressive educational reforms. He became a contributing editor of The Dial in 1918.
Published sources disagree on the exact date, but Randolph Bourne died of influenza in New York City on or around December 23, 1918.