Hugo A. Bedau Papers, 1954-2005
- Bedau, Hugo Adam
- Hugo A. Bedau (Ph.D., Harvard, 1961) is a commentator, scholar, and activist for the abolition of capital punishment. He is a prominent spokesperson in the abolitionist movement and well-known for his scholarship and writing concerning the death penalty and the challenge to separate logical arguments from moral arguments.
- 36 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Hugo A. Bedau Papers, 1957-1984. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted. Please contact Department staff for further information.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The Hugo A. Bedau Papers encompasses a lifetime of research, scholarship, and political activism regarding the issue of capital punishment. All items in this manuscript group were transferred to the University Libraries' M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives by Hugo A. Bedau in 2002 as part of the National Death Penalty Archive. The collection is arranged into four series: Series 1: Scholarship and Teaching; Series 2: Correspondence; Series 3: Advocacy Organization; and Series 4: Subject Files.
The Bedau Papers are a valuable resource to scholars, students and historians studying the controversial and politically volatile subject of capital punishment from 1955 -2002. The records in this collection reflect Bedau's commitment as a leading academic and activist challenging the fundamental legality of the death penalty. The entire collection, totaling nearly 37 cubic feet, contains Bedau's drafts, reprints, correspondence, writings and unpublished work, conference materials, newsletters, records from advocacy organizations, and capital punishment case files.
Series 1 is devoted to Bedau's scholarly writings including manuscripts, journal articles, book chapters, opinion pieces, and transcripts of testimonies Bedau gave to state and federal legislatures. Of note are unpublished works such as drafts, notes, studies, proposals, reports, conference papers, lectures, grant proposals and reports. This series also features Bedau and Michael Radelet's Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases including drafts, professional critiques, testimonies, correspondence, notes, and news clippings.
Series 2 contains a tremendous amount of correspondence with many of Bedau's colleagues such as: Anthony Amsterdam, William Bowers, Peggy Davis, Watt Espy, Gerald Gottlieb, David Kendall, Douglas Lyons, Philip Mackey, Michael Radelet, Marc Riedel, Victor Streib, Neil Vidmar, Marvin Wolfgang, and Franklyn Zimring. This series begins in 1957 and continues for Bedau's entire career.
Reflecting Bedau's work with abolition organizations, Series 3 contains minutes of meetings, project files, newsletters, press packets, correspondence, event and conference material for many abolitionist groups such as the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty (MCADP), Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Legal Defense Fund. The collection also contains various newsletters, press packets, correspondence, and information about many other regional organizations including: the Alabama Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty, Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, Detention Ministry and the Colorado Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Series 4 contains research material and newspaper clippings collected by Bedau and covers more than 40 years of capital punishment issues and cases of interest to him. This series closely follows Bedau's original arrangement schemes of organization by location, case and subject and contains a diverse collection of news clippings, journal articles, and court decisions.
- Biographical / Historical:
Hugo A. Bedau (Ph.D., Harvard, 1961) is a commentator, scholar, and activist for the abolition of capital punishment. He is a prominent spokesperson in the abolitionist movement and well-known for his scholarship and writing concerning the death penalty and the challenge to separate logical arguments from moral arguments.
Bedau completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Redlands in 1949, did his graduate work at Boston University, and attained his doctorate in 1961 from Harvard University. [Who's Who in America. 62nd ed. 2008]. Before getting his doctorate, Bedau worked as an instructor and lecturer at Dartmouth College and Princeton University as his growing interest in death penalty issues led to an offer to serve on the Board of Directors of the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment. In 1961, Bedau completed the doctoral program and was soon hired as an Associate Professor at Reed College where he stayed from 1962-1966. During this time he published his first book, The Death Penalty in America: An Anthology (1962), that is currently in its 4th edition.
In 1966, Bedau was hired as Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University where spent the next thirty-three years as he helped found the Center for the Study of Decision Making. Among his scholarly work, Bedau is the author of the Courts, the Constitution and Capital Punishment (1977); Death is Different (1987); co-author, In Spite of Innocence (1992); editor, Civil Disobedience in Focus (1991); Current Issues and Enduring Questions (4th edition, 1996); co-editor, Capital Punishment in the United States (1976); and a contributor to many other volumes. He has also written books about writing such as Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing (2nd edition, 1996). His Romanell - Phi Beta Kappa lectures delivered at Tufts in the spring of 1995, were published by Oxford University Press under the title, Making Moral Choices. [Hugo Adam Bedau. Tufts Philosophy http://ase.tufts.edu/philosophy/people/bedau.shtml]. In addition, he has published hundreds of articles, essays, and commentaries on capital punishment.
In addition to his scholarship, Bedau has been active in the capital punishment abolition movement for many decades. He was the chairman of the board for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) and a board member for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment and several other organizations. He has also been a long time member of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty (MCADP) and an active member of such organizations as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Amnesty International, the American Philosophical Association, American Association of University Professors, and the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. Bedau has frequently testified before state and federal legislative committees as an expert on the issue of capital punishment and has advocated for Death Row inmates, such as Harold "Wili" Otey who was executed in 1994 in Nebraska.
Bedau married his second wife Constance Elizabeth Putnam in 1990. In 1992, she co-authored In Spite of Innocence with Bedau and Michael Radelet. [Who's Who in America. 62nd ed. 2008]. Bedau has four children from his first marriage: Lauren, Mark Adam, Paul Hugo, and Guy Anthony, as well as four grandchildren. [Who's Who in America. 62nd ed. 2008 and Hugo Adam Bedau. Tufts Philosophy http://ase.tufts.edu/philosophy/people/bedau.shtml]. After retiring from Tufts in 1999, Bedau has continued writing, speaking and working for the abolition of capital punishment.
On August 13, 2012 Hugo Bedau passed away at the age of 85. [New York Times Obituary. Last accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/us/hugo-bedau-philosopher-who-opposed-death-penalty-dies-at-85.html].
Chronology of Events : 1926Born in Portland, Oregon on September 231944Graduated from high school in San Francisco1944Entered the Naval Officer Training at the University of Southern California1949Received a bachelor's degree (summa cum laude) from the University of Redlands in California1951Received a master's degree from Boston University1952Married Jan Lisbeth Peterson Mastin (Divorced 1988)1953Received a second master's degree from Harvard1953-1954Instructor at Dartmouth1954-1957Instructor at Princeton1957-1958Danforth Fellow1958-1961Lecturer at Princeton1959Began serving on the Board of Directors of the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment (he served until 1972)1961Received a Ph. D from Harvard, he also did graduate work at Boston University1961-1962Liberal Arts Fellow in Law and Philosophy Harvard University Law School.1962-1966Associate Professor at Reed College1964Published his first book The Death Penalty in America. In 1997, a 4 th edition of the book was published.1967-1997Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University1969-1972President of the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment (Served until 1972)1980Visiting Life Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University1981Served as Vice President of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy.1981Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Natal in South Africa1984-1998Served on the Board of Directors of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Massachusetts1987Served as Vice President of the ACLU, Massachusetts1988Visiting fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.1989Received the Abolitionist Award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty1990Married Constance Elizabeth Putnam1990-1993Chairman, Board for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP)1994Visiting Professor of Law at University of Westminster, London.1994-5Received the Phi-Beta Kappa Romanell Professorship in Philosophy1997Received the August Vollmer Award from the American Society of Criminology1997-1999, 2003-2004Honorary Research Fellow -Bantham Project- University of London
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Hugo A. Bedau in 2002.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2008 by John Grayshaw, April 2008.
- Death Penalty
Criminal Justice and Prisons
Capital punishment--United States
Punishment--Moral and ethical aspects
Manuscripts for publication
Videotape recordings (video recordings)
- Amnesty International
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (U.S.)
Death Penalty Information Center (U.S.)
American Civil Liberties Union
Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty