Rush Rhees Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of the personal papers of Rush Rhees, together with notes, transcripts and correspondence relating to the publication of works by and relating to Ludwig Wittgenstein and works by Rush Rhees. The collection also contains files of correspondence between Rush Rhees and others including Elizabeth Anscombe, Ivor Davies, Maurice O'Connor Drury, Brian McGuinness, Dewi Zephania Phillips and Franz Wurm. In addition there is a large body of research and lecture notes relating to philosophers and particular aspects of philosophy - art and literature, history and philosophy, education and knowledge, ethics, Greek philosophy, language and personal experience, logic and science, politics, religion and Simone Weil.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rush Rhees, the son of Rush Rhees and Harriet Chapin Seelye, was born in Rochester, New York, USA, on 19 March 1905. He initially read philosophy at Rochester University, where his father was president, but was expelled by Professor George M Forbes for his unconventional questioning. In 1924 he travelled to Edinburgh, and graduated with first-class honours in 1928. After being an assistant to JL Stocks at Manchester Rhees studied with Alfred Kastil at Innsbruck for a year and then became a research student with GE Moore at Cambridge. During his time at Cambridge he met Ludwig Wittgenstein. The two became close friends, and, together with GEM Anscombe and GH von Wright, he was appointed as Wittgenstein's literary executor. Rhees dedicated much of his life to bringing out Wittgenstein's unpublished works. Although Rhees was appointed as a temporary assistant at the University College of Swansea in 1940, the post was not made permanent until 1946 and he remained as a lecturer until his retirement in 1966. During his time at Swansea Rhees's most influential period was with his colleagues JR Jones, RF Holland and Peter Winch. After retiring Rhees briefly lived in London, and was a visiting professor at King's College. He subsequently lived in Cambridgeshire but returned to Swansea, where he became an honorary professor and fellow of the college. Rhees was married twice. His first wife was Jean Henderson; his second was Peg, nee Bovey, the widow of Yorick Smythies. He died in Swansea on 22 May 1989. It was only following the death of Rhees that his work became published, with DZ Phillips, editing text from the collection of papers acquired by the university at Swansea. For further information see DZ Phillips, 'Rhees, Rush (1905-1989)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/65652]; DZ Phillips, biographical sketch in R Rhees, 'On Religion and Philosophy', ed. DZ Phillips and M von der Ruhr (1997).

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all researchers by appointment. Items within this collection containing information on named individuals may be restricted in accordance with the Data Protection Act. Contact the repository for further details.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Gael Chenard, March 2009.