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Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop papers

Call Number: MS 627

Scope and Contents

The Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop Papers document many of the activities and professional interests of the well-known Yale Professor of Philosophy and Philosophy and Law. Although the papers span the dates 1914-1979, the bulk of the material covers the years 1940-1972. The major part of the Northrop Papers were transferred to Manuscripts and Archives from the Yale Law School in 1971. Several small additions to the papers were made between 1974 and 1979. Significant related material can be found in YRG 41-A-1 Collection of Yale War Time Letters. In YRG 41-A-1 are a series of letters Christine Johnston Northrop received during World War I, when her husband was Master of Silliman College.

The Northrop Papers are divided into five series, Series I, PROFESSIONAL PAPERS, has two sections: Subject Files and Notes and Lectures.

The Subject Files part of Series I, Boxes 1-8, may be of greatest interest to researchers, for it contains the bulk of the correspondence in the collection. Subject Files have letters that concern his wide ranging philosophical interests; contains reactions to and comments about his many published books and articles, the most thought provoking being The Meeting of East and West (1946); and includes correspondence documenting such professional activities as attendance at major philosophical conferences, membership and participation in professional organizations, and lectures delivered. Given Northrop's international reputation, it is, therefore, not surprising to find letters from scholars in Europe, India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and other parts of Latin America.

The major subjects covered in the correspondence of this important twentieth century philosopher include the philosophy of science, philosophy of law, Hindu philosophy, oriental philosophy, comparative religion, and United States foreign policy in the post-World War II era.

The second section of Series I, Notes and Lectures, fills Boxes 9-11. There are notes on courses taken by Northrop in graduate school, notes on conferences he attended, notes on books read and conversations with other scholars, and notes on such subjects as Newtonian mechanics, music, and European politics. Lectures make up just over ten percent of the material in this section. Folders 237 and 268 contain class materials and outlines, folders 239-41 and 267 contain class lectures, folders 242 and 269 have material for special lectures, and the section has three folders of lecture abstracts.

Series II, WRITINGS, is also made up of two sections. Part one, Books, Boxes 12-13, has typescripts of The Meeting of East and West, The Logic of the Sciences and Humanities, and Man, Nature and God. The second section, entitled Articles, is housed in Boxes 14-17. In addition to published articles, the section includes some eighteen book reviews written by Northrop, copies of oral presentations, introductions to books written by others, two unpublished manuscripts, and a partial bibliography of Northrop's writings in folder 305. The published articles concern the same subjects found in Subject Files. There are around twenty-five articles on the relationship between philosphy and science, another seventeen on philosophy and law, about fifteen concerning international politics and relations, a half dozen on oriental philosophy, four on religion, and around thirty on a variety of other philosophical subjects.

Series III contains RESEARCH MATERIAL. Filling four boxes, the material consists primarily of newspaper clippings covering the years 1951-1956 organized mostly by country or region but occasionally by subjects. They generally reflect Northrop's interest in international relations and foreign policy.

The largest series in the Northrop Papers is WRITINGS OF OTHERS, housed in Boxes 22-38. It consists of articles and books given to Northrop by other scholars covering a wide variety of philosophical subjects. Many articles bear inscriptions by the authors.

PERSONAL PAPERS, Series V, are contained in Boxes 41-46. Correspondence, primarily consisting of letters sent to Christine Johnston Northrop, is found in folders 923-33. The earliest letters date from the World War I period, when she was serving in France under the auspices of the National War Council of the International Committee of the Young Men's Christian Associations, and were written by male admirers and female friends. The collection contains just seven letters from Filmer Northrop to Christine written in 1938 and 1939. Folder 928 contains a series of January 1940 congratulatory letters and telegrams upon the occasion of Northrop's selection as Master of Silliman College. The series also includes awards, journals and diaries, photographs, and reviews of seven Northrop books. Material in folders 979-83 provides minimal documentation of Northrop's long Yale career and three files, 981-83, concern his Silliman College years. Box 45 is filled with 3 X 5 cards listing books in the library of F.S.C. Northrop and also bibliography cards. Box 46, folders, 986-95, contains oversize materials and includes degrees awarded Northrop and photographs.

The Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop Papers provide a great deal of useful information about the professional career and philosophical interests of Northrop, but they provide little documentation of his personal life and relatively little of his forty year teaching career at Yale. Folders 981-83 give some information about his Silliman College years and there is a May 2, 1970 letter to President Kingman Brewster, folder 25, in which Northrop criticizes Brewster for his widely publicized statement concerning the Black Panther trial. In addition, the papers include letters from such well known philosophers and scientists as Teilhard de Chardin, Benedetto Croce, Curt J. Ducasse, Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook, Arthur O. Lovejoy, George Santayana, and Alfred North Whitehead.


  • 1914-1992
  • Majority of material found within 1914 - 1985


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to Yale University for unpublished materials donated by Norman Riise in Accession 1994-M-011. Copyright status for the remaining collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Yale Law School, 1971; small additions, 1974-1979; received from the Estate of Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop, 1993; gift of Norman Riise, 1993; and gift of Robert A. Driscoll, 1997 and 1998.


Arranged in five series and four additions: I. Professional Papers. II. Writings. III. Research Material. IV. Writings of others. V. Personal Papers.

Related Material

Correspondence of World War II servicemen from Silliman College, Yale University, to the master of the college and his wife, RU 85, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.


29.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain correspondence, notes and lectures, writings, research materials, publications of other scholars, photographs, journals, and miscellanea documenting the professional career of Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop, professor of philosophy and law at Yale University from 1923-1962. The papers primarily document the professional activities and research interests of Northrop, not his Yale teaching career and personal life. The correspondence reflects his professional and research interests, in particular such subjects as philosophy of science, philosophy of law, oriental philosophy, and international relations. The papers contain typescripts of three books, notes for courses taken and on conferences attended, research files, and a variety of other material documenting Northrop's professional career.

Biographical / Historical

Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop (1893-1992) was a philosopher, college professor, and author. A member of the Yale faculty, 1923-1962, in the Department of Philosophy and School of Law, he wrote eight major books, including Science and First Principles (1931) and The Meeting of East and West (1946).
born November 27
A.B., Beloit College
social work in New York City
U.S. Army
A.M. in Economics, Yale University
August 6 married Christine Johnston
educational secretary International Committee YMCA in Hong Kong
A.M. in Philosophy, Harvard University
Instructor in Philosophy, Yale University
Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science, Harvard University
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Yale University
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Yale University
published Science and First Principles
Professor of Philosophy, Yale University
Master of Silliman College
published The Meeting of East and West, An Inquiry Concerning World Understanding
published The Logic of the Sciences and Humanities
Sterling Professor of Philosophy and Law, Yale University
published The Taming of the Nations, A Study of the Cultural Bases of International Society
edited Alfred North Whitehead: An Anthology
published European Union and United States Foreign Policy: A Study in Sociological Jurisprudence
published The Complexity of Legal and Ethical Experience
published Philosophical Anthropology and Practical Politics
published Man, Nature and God; A Quest for Life's Meaning
Sterling Professor of Philosophy and Law emeritus
death of Christine Johnston Northrop
married Marjorie Carey
Guide to the Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Bruce Stark and the staff of Manuscripts and Archives
November 1983
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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