Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Lewis, David K. (David Kellogg), 1941-2001
David Lewis Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1945-2019 (mostly 1960-2001)
55 boxes, 26.4 linear feet, 4.5 GB, and 1991 digital files
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Boxes B-000659; B-000660; B-000661; B-000662; B-001319; B-000663; B-000664; B-000665; B-000666; B-000667; B-000668; B-000669; B-000670; B-000671; B-000672; B-000673; B-000674; B-000675; B-000676; B-000677; B-000678; B-000679; B-000680; B-000681; B-000682; B-000683; B-000684; B-000685; B-000686; B-000687; B-000688; B-000689; B-000690; B-000691; B-000698; B-000692; B-001229; B-000693; B-001230; B-000694; B-000695; B-000696; B-000697; B-001725; B-001726; B-001727; B-001728; B-001729; B-001730; B-001731; B-001732; B-001733; B-001734; P-000166; B-001735


David Kellogg Lewis (1941-2001) was an American philosopher who taught at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles and contributed to metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, decision theory, epistemology, meta-ethics, and aesthetics. Lewis's papers include over four decades of his correspondence with other philosophers and scholars, including David M. Armstrong, J. J. C. Smart, Frank Jackson, D. H. Mellor, M. J. Cresswell, Allen Hazen, John Bigelow, and others, as well as drafts of his articles, books, reviews, and unpublished writings with related correspondence, his undergraduate and graduate student papers and class notes, research materials from his time at the Hudson Institute, photographs of Lewis with friends and fellow philosophers, a group of files kept by the Australian philosopher David M. Armstrong regarding Lewis, papers of Stephanie R. Lewis, and family papers.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The papers consist primarily of David Lewis's writings and extensive correspondence with other philosophers and scholars. There are approximately sixteen thousand pages of Lewis's correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. Significant amounts of correspondence with David M. Armstrong, J. J. C. Smart, Frank Jackson, W. V. Quine, D. H. Mellor, M. J. Cresswell, Allen Hazen, and John Bigelow are included. Lewis's letters document lively philosophical debates and reflect the development of his thought across more than four decades. Lewis's writings include drafts of published articles and books, often along with publishing correspondence, reviews, notes, and marked copies of books related to each publication, including for his books Convention (1969), Counterfactuals (1973), On the Plurality of Worlds (1986), and Parts of Classes (1991), as well as for his collected works. A smaller amount of similar materials pertaining to his reviews and unpublished or posthumously published writings is also present, as are some of his undergraduate and graduate student papers and course materials and his research files and reports from his time as a researcher at the Hudson Institute in the 1960s. Several dozen digital prints of scanned photographs of David Lewis are also present, including portraits and group shots with friends and fellow philosophers, as well as a group of photocopied materials on David Lewis maintained by David M. Armstrong. Later additions include similar material, as well as academic and administrative files; papers of Stephanie R. Lewis, a philosopher who was married to David Lewis; family papers; and digital and audiovisual materials.


The collection is arranged into five series based on the existing organization of materials at the time they were acquired by the library.

Collection Creator Biography:

Lewis, David K. (David Kellogg), 1941-2001

David Kellogg Lewis (1941-2001) was an American philosopher and professor at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles who made contributions to metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, decision theory, epistemology, meta-ethics, and aesthetics. Born in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1941, Lewis completed his undergraduate education at Swarthmore College. After spending the 1959-1960 academic year abroad at St. Catherine's Society at Oxford University, where he attended lectures by J. L. Austin and was tutored by Iris Murdoch, Lewis switched his major from chemistry to philosophy. He went on to receive his M.A. (1964) and Ph.D. (1967) in Philosophy from Harvard University, where he studied with W. V. Quine and Hilary Putnam. From 1962 to 1975, Lewis served part-time on the staff at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think-tank then dedicated to researching the technical aspects of nuclear weapons and disarmament policy issues. At the Hudson Institute, Lewis developed an interest in game theory that informed his dissertation, Conventions of Language, which he wrote under the supervision of W. V. Quine and later published.

Lewis taught at the University of California, Los Angeles beginning in 1966 and moved to Princeton in 1970, where he taught for the rest of his life. He was named Stuart Professor of Philosophy in 1995 and later appointed Class of 1943 University Professor of Philosophy in 1998. Lewis's published books include Convention (1969), Counterfactuals (1973), On the Plurality of Worlds (1986), and Parts of Classes (1991). Volumes of his collected papers include Philosophical Papers Vol. I (1983) and Philosophical Papers Vol. II (1986), published by Oxford University Press, and Papers in Philosophical Logic (1998), Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology (1999), and Papers in Social Philosophy (2000), published in Cambridge University Press's Cambridge Studies in Philosophy series. Lewis maintained close ties to the philosophical community in Australia, corresponding regularly with D. M. Armstrong, J. J. C. Smart, Frank Jackson, Allen Hazen, and others, and he spent summers there almost annually from 1971 up until shortly before his death in 2001. David Lewis's wife, Stephanie R. Lewis, also a philosopher and co-author of several papers with her husband, maintained David Lewis's papers and served as the executor of his literary estate following his death.

Collection History


Gift of Stephanie R. Lewis in 2016 (AM 2016-65), with additions in 2018 (AM 2019-58), 2019 (AM 2019-100), and 2020 (AM 2020-71).

A volume of bound reprints and typescripts of articles by David Lewis, some with annotations in his handwriting, was found in Firestone Library during 2015-2016 renovations and added to the papers.

Custodial History:

Stephanie R. Lewis, David Lewis's wife and the executor of his estate, maintained and arranged his papers following his death prior to the arrival of the papers at Princeton University Library. Correspondence includes files David Lewis maintained himself, as well as some originals and copies of letters David Lewis sent to others that Stephanie Lewis later solicited from their recipients and interfiled.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were separated from the collection during 2016-2021 processing beyond routine appraisal practices. During processing of born-digital materials, the processing archivist deleted empty directories, a small number of files containing PII, and several directories of out-of-scope personal records.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in February-April 2016, with assistance from Isabella Litke (GS) and Fiona Bell '18. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in April-May 2016 and updated with new materials by Kelly Bolding in December 2018, May 2019, November 2021, and February 2022. Additions made in 2018 and 2019 were integrated into the existing arrangement when possible. Additions made after the death of Stephanie Lewis in November 2019 were arranged into their own series and are minimally processed.

The born-digital materials in this collection were processed in February 2022 according to Princeton University Library's Born-Digital Processing Workflows. For more information on the workflow, please read our full Born-Digital Processing Information Note.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research. Correspondence files marked by the donor as confidential, usually due to third party privacy concerns, are restricted until 2036 (housed in boxes B-000682 through B-000684). Files containing personnel and student records are restricted until 2076 or 75 years from the date of creation (housed in boxes B-000679 through B-000681 and B-001727, as well as a folder of born-digital letters of recommendation).

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Special Requirements for Access:

This collection contains digital files, which may require specific software or hardware for access. Refer to our Tips on Accessing Born-Digital Content for information on how to render these file formats.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media, but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Patrons may request digital copies of original analog media, but will be responsible for the cost of digital conversion, payable in advance. Turn-around time for such requests will depend on the size and scope of the project. Requests should be directed to Public Services staff.

Credit this material:

David Lewis Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184