Hugo Bedau Papers, 1949 -- 2001


Title: Hugo Bedau Papers
Dates: 1949 -- 2001
Bulk Dates: 1949 -- 2001
Creator: Bedau, Hugo Adam
Call Number: MS027
Size: 10.8 Cubic Feet
Language(s): English  
Permanent URL:
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University


The bulk of this collection is composed of professional correspondence and publications as well as subject files relating to professional conferences and teaching engagements.


This collection is organized into three series: Correspondence; Subject Files; and Writings and Publications.


Biographical / Historical

Hugo Adam Bedau (1927-2012) was a long time faculty member and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy. He received his undergraduate education at the naval training program at University of South Carolina and at the University of Redlands, where he graduated in 1949. He completed his master's at Boston University (1951) and his PhD (1961) at Harvard. Prior to coming to Tufts, Bedau taught at Dartmouth, Princeton, and Reed, as well as serving as an adjunct or visiting lecturer at several colleges. In 1966 he joined the Tufts faculty where his refusal to take a Loyalty Oath required by the state of Massachusetts nearly ended his Tufts career before it began. However, a court injunction and subsequent vindication by the Massachusetts Supreme Court solidified his place among the faculty for many years to come.

Bedau was one of the co- founders of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and he continued to be active in the organization in different positions. He became a member of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1950s and testified against the death penalty before the U.S. Congress and state legislatures. Bedau wrote and published extensively on the subject of capital punishment, the death penalty, and critical thinking in the scholarly literature as well as in newspapers. He edited or co-edited volumes on social, political, moral and legal philosophy (The Death Penalty in America, Capital Punishment in the United States and Debating the Death Penalty). His books include The Courts, the Constitution, and Capital Punishment (1977), Death is Different (1987), and Killing as Punishment (2004). The majority of Bedau's research and papers on these subjects are located at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections at the State University of New York, Albany.

In addition to writing and teaching at Tufts, Bedau was a frequent guest lecturer and conference participant. He was consistently rated as a favorite teacher by his Tufts students both at home and abroad. He was elected Romanell - Phi Beta Kappa Professor of Philosophy in 1994 and his Romanell lecture was published in 1997 as Making Moral Choices. He received the August Vollmer Award from the American Society of Criminology as well as the Roger Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Massachusetts in 2003.

Bedau retired in 1999. In September 2006, in celebration of his 80th birthday, the Department of Philosophy established the Hugo Adam Bedau Fund for Civil Liberties. Although retired, Bedau continued to research and publish along with his wife, Constance Putnam. He died August 13, 2012, survived by his wife and four children from a previous marriage: Mark, Paul, Guy and Lauren Bedau Evans.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see "Reproductions and Use" on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Collection History

Processing Notes

Processed by Veronica Martzahl, casual employee, under the supervision of Susanne Belovari, Archivist for Reference and Collections. Bedau maintained his correspondence files chronologically. DCA received a second run of chronological files that were not yet filed in the main run at the time of their transfer to DCA. DCA staff has interfiled these two runs to maintain the chronology. See Collection Documentation folder in Digital Collections and Archives office for addition information on the processing of this collection.

This collection is processed.

Subjects and Genre Terms
Related Material
  • UA150, Center for the Study of Decision Making, DCA

Series Description

  1. Correspondence, 1955 -- 1999

    This series consists of correspondence received by Hugo Bedau, as well as copies of correspondence he created.

  2. Subject Files, 1953 -- 1999

    This series contains Bedau's subject files regarding teaching engagements, conferences, and his work with various professional and non-profit organizations.

  3. Writings and Publications, 1949 -- 2001

    This series contains Bedau's files regarding articles, chapters and books he authored or reviewed. Files contain a mixture of drafts, related correspondence and publisher agreements. Also included are Bedau's Honors, Masters and Doctoral Theses.