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Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz and Morris Lazerowitz papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00101

Scope and Contents

The Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz papers contains biographical material, course syllabi, unpublished lectures, and publications spanning the later portions of Lazerowitz's career, with the majority of the collection consisting in the latter two types of material. These lectures and publications (1957-1996) are all on philosophical topics, except for some biographical writing on G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. A number of the unpublished lectures are not dated. The Lazerowitz papers includes three monographs, listed at the end of the folder listing.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1930 - 2001


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use with following restrictions on access:

Box #6 is CLOSED until 2070 due to student grades.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz was born to Albert Lee and Bonnie Belle Ambrose on November 25, 1906, in Lexington, IL. She attended Millikin University as an undergraduate (1924-1928), and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin in 1932. In 1932, she traveled to England to do post-doctoral research at Cambridge University, studying under Ludwig Wittgenstein.

It is due to Lazerowitz and a few others in the Cambridge philosophical community of the 1930s that The Blue Book (1933-1934) and The Brown Book (1934-1935), two central texts in the Wittgenstein canon, were written and published. Both books were published after the philosopher's death, and are essentially transcripts of Wittgenstein's lectures and dictations during those years. In a ca. 1990 document called "Recollections of Wittgenstein" and described as "preparatory materials for tape recording at E. Carolina University," Lazerowitz writes, Wittgenstein was demanding, of both himself and others. The ruling passion of his life was to do philosophy properly. The compelling force of his own values communicated itself, and with both himself and others there was no compromise with those values, whether intellectual, moral, or aesthetic. (p. 4)

This passage not only vividly captures Wittgenstein's single-minded passion for philosophy, but also highlights the clarity, vigor, and accuracy of Lazerowitz's thought and prose. One could in all fairness say that, just as Lazerowitz was immensely fortunate to study with Wittgenstein, he was equally fortunate to have in her and her compatriots students capable not only of transcribing his words, but also of understanding and later teaching them to others.

Lazerowitz received a second doctoral degree from Cambridge, and in 1935 she left England and accepted a teaching position at the University of Michigan, which she held for two years. In 1937, she came to Smith College and, along with her husband Morris Lazerowitz, whom she married in 1938, spent the remainder of her career in the Smith Philosophy Department. She achieved full professor status in 1951, and was named Sophia and Austin Smith Professor of Philosophy in 1964, a chair she held until her retirement in 1972. Though Lazerowitz's early association with Wittgenstein is probably the most glamorous part of her career, it does not in any way represent the scope and depth of it. She wrote Essays in Analysis (1966) and co-authored with her husband six more books, including Fundamentals of Symbolic Logic (rev. 1962), Essays in the Unknown Wittgenstein (1984), and Necessity and Language (1985). She and Morris Lazerowitz co-edited G. E. Moore: Essays in Retrospect (1970) and Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophy and Language (1972). Her articles, papers, and lectures on logic, language, skepticism, epistemology, Wittgenstein, and Wittgenstein contemporary G. E. Moore earned her a respected place in 20th-century philosophy.

Unlike the solitary and anguished Wittgenstein, whose work so deeply influenced her career, Lazerowitz was socially active both in the academy and in her community. She served as editor of The Journal of Symbolic Logic from 1953 to 1968, and as President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA). Perhaps closer to her heart was the position of chair of the APA Committee on Freedom for Latin American Philosophers. At Smith, she chaired the Smith College Community Chest Drive. Even after her retirement she was highly sought-after as a teacher and continued to teach and guest-lecture at Smith and other universities around the country until her death, at the age of 94, on January 25, 2001.


19.083 linear feet (19 containers)

Language of Materials



Professor of Philosophy. Her work on logic, language, skepticism, epistemology, Wittgenstein, and Wittgenstein contemporary G. E. Moore earned her a respected place in 20th-century philosophy. Contains biographical material, course syllabi, unpublished lectures, and publications spanning the later portions of Lazerowitz's career.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The source of the original collection is unknown. Most materials were transferred from the Department of Psychology in 2006.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Finding aid prepared by manosca.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca101 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-09: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey
  • 2019-11-25: Added boxes 1-13, updated extents and dates

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063