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Pugwash history

Pugwash Conferences on Science and International Affairs has a long and distinguished history of bringing together all sides in pursuit of disarmament, elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of peaceful settlement of international disputes. Pugwash and its most eminent spokesperson, Joseph Rotblat, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms" (official Nobel Peace Prize website).

British Pugwash, together with the Pugwash History Project is working to conserve publications, documents, photographs and other visual and audio material that map Pugwash's history and achievements, and to make it publicly available.

In February 2012 British Pugwash published a new summary of Pugwash history, together with details of the role of British Pugwash and its current activities. For further information on the history of Pugwash, please visit the Pugwash History blog and the history pages of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and International Affairs website.


To highlight key events in the history of Pugwash, we will be posting 'Milestones' to commemorate particular events of interest. In 2015, there are two important milestones. We will be commemorating the signing of the Russell-Einstein Declaration in 1955 as well as the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Pugwash and Joseph Rotblat in 1995. See also: Russell-Einstein Manifesto Biographies of signatories (pdfs)

The Rotblat papers
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Joseph Rotblat (r) receiving Nobel Peace Prize 1995 ©Pugwash Photo Archive

Joseph Rotblat’s papers are housed in the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College Cambridge. Please visit the Archives Centre website for details of the collection.

Pugwash publications
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16th Pugwash conference in Sopot, Poland Sept 1966 (tbc) ©Pugwash Photo Archive

Over the years since the establishment of Pugwash in 1957, the organisation has published books, proceedings and reports of more than 400 conferences, symposia and workshops; policy and research reports; occasional papers and pamphlets, together with a regular newsletter which started in 1963. The most recent of these are available online, but for previous decades, copies of many of these publications are available from the British Pugwash office.

Work is currently taking place to digitalise the newsletters and to produce a handlist of Pugwash publications held in this office.

Pugwash photo archive
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1st Pugwash conference in Pugwash, Nova Scotia July 1957 ©Pugwash Photo Archive

Until his death in 2005, Joseph Rotblat worked in the current office of British Pugwash at 63A Great Russell Street in London where a large collection of photographs, publications, newsletters and memorabilia remains.

British Pugwash, together with Sandra Ionno Butcher, Director of the Pugwash History Project, has launched an initiative to digitalise and archive the many photos held in the British Pugwash office that bring to life the history of Pugwash.

The Pugwash Photo Archive aims to make these photos accessible to researchers. The work is being carried out by staff, Executive Committee members and volunteers of British Pugwash.

Pugwash photo archive blog
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l. Acad. E L Velikov (Russia); r. Martin Kaplan (USA), Pugwash 47th Symposium London Dec. 1985 ©Pugwash Photo Archive

With the participation of several dedicated interns, we decided to start a blog, which aims to involve Pugwash members, and others who are knowledgeable in the history of Pugwash, in our ongoing research on the photo.

We now post several new photographs on the blog each month, ranging through the decades of Pugwash history from the 1950s to the present, asking for help in identifying specific photos or the people shown in them. We do hope you will visit the blog and enjoy looking at the photos. Hopefully you will be able to share your knowledge and memories with us.

Slider photo credits: © Pugwash Photo Archive