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Archive of Sir Michael Dummett


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The first part of the collection comprises correspondence, typescripts, notes and other papers relating to playing cards; tarot cards; card and other games; tarot games and occult tarot. The remaining correspondence and papers in the collection relate to Dummett's academic work, his work on immigration and racial inequality and to his writings on electoral reform. The final part of the collection comprises photographs and slides, mainly of playing and tarot cards used as illustrations in Dummett's books and articles on the subject.


  • Creation: 1951-2013


6.3 Linear metres (42 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • Italian
  • German
  • French

English, Italian, German, French

Conditions Governing Access

MS. 6859/38 folder 1 and MS. 6859/39 folder 1 are closed due to the confidential nature of the material.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 6859/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 6859/1-40; MSS. 6859 Photogr. 1-2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6859, 9418


Archive of Sir Michael Dummett, philosopher and campaigner against racial injustice

Biographical / Historical

Sir Michael Dummett (1925-2011) was a British philosopher and campaigner against racial injustice. Dummett graduated from the University of Oxford in 1950 with a first-class honours degree in philosophy, politics and economics and was elected as fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in the same year. In 1962 he was appointed to the Oxford University readership in philosophy of mathematics, holding the post in conjunction with his fellowship of All Souls College. Dummett moved to New College in 1979 on his election as Wykeham professor of logic; he remained in this post until his retirement in 1992. During the 1960s, Dummett and his wife, Ann, were heavily committed to the anti-racism movement, working on behalf of individual immigrants and their families as well as being involved with organisational activity. Dummett also published significant work on electoral reform and theories of voting.

The main part of this collection relates to Dummett's scholarly interest in playing cards, card-games and tarot. He was a founding member of the International Playing Card Society and his papers and correspondence include rules and references to numerous card games from around the world. Dummett researched and published several books and articles on the history of playing cards and tarot, including The Game of Tarot: from Ferrara to Salt Lake City (1980) and A History of the Occult Tarot 1870 - 1970, with Ronald Decker (2002).

Further details of Dummett's life and career are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.


The arrangement generally reflects the original order of the collection with some material moved to maintain the topical arrangement. The first part of the collection, acquired in 2012, comprises material relating to playing cards, games and tarot. Further papers and digital material relating to Dummett's academic work and to his work on immigration, race relations and electoral reform were added in 2013 and form the second and third parts of the Bodleian collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers and photographs relating to games, playing cards and tarot were donated to the Bodleian Library by Paul Dummett in 2012. The remaining papers and digital archives were donated by the University of Oxford Faculty of Philosophy in 2013.

Separated Materials

Additional material from Dummett's collection can be found in the John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Library.

Catalogue of the archive of Sir Michael Dummett
Finding aid prepared by Carolyn Lewis
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom