Bishopsgate Archives

The Rationalist Association is part of a long history of freethought in Britain. You can view our historical archives, stretching back to 1885, along with those of many other free thinking and radical organisations at the Bishopsgate Institute in London.

Cover of Humanist magazine from 1969
A cover of Humanist magazine from 1969

Highlights from the Archive

In the RA archive you can find AGM minutes, registers of members and committee books dating back to the 1920s and details of bequests to the organisation. The collection also includes publication files from the Rationalist Press Association. Files to look out for include The Humanist Outlook: a Symposium by A. J. Ayer (1967-1971), Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilisation? An Examination and a Criticism by Bertrand Russell (1930) and The World As I See It, Parts I-IV by Albert Einstein (1940-1948). There are also letters to the organisation from, among others, Thomas Hardy, Albert Einstein and AJP Taylor.

The Rationalist Press Association was one of the first publishers to produce accessible and affordable series of books. The Thinkers Library series , which ran from 1910 to the 1950s, reprinted many seminal works from biologists, physicists, philosophers and prominent freethinkers, notable names include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, H.G. Wells, Thomas Henry Huxley.

Black and white photo of Thinker's Library book display

Also of interest

The Bishopsgate Institute hold the archives of the British Humanist Association and the Bradlaugh collection. They hold archives donated by two of our supporters James Hemming and Colin Campbell. You can also browse the archives of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, which was co-founded by the former editor of New Humanist and current Chairman of South Place Ethical Society, Jim Herrick. Finally, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Rationalist Press Association (1973-1981), Antony Chapman has donated his own personal files from his time with the organisation and are open to view.

Join: Albert Einstein & you

The Rationalist Association is independent, irreverent & non-profit. We are supported by our members.