Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Casady mss., ca. 1980-2001, consists of writings, correspondence, and photographs of Mortimer Jerome Adler, 1902-2001, philosopher and educator.

Mortimer Adler was born in New York City, December 28, 1902. He began taking classes at Columbia University when he was 15 years old, planning on becoming a journalist, but quickly developed an interest in philosophy and changed his course of study. However, because he failed to complete the physical education course required for graduation, Columbia refused to grant him his degree. Adler began teaching classes at Columbia in the 1920s and because his command of the classics was so great, the university awarded him a PhD in philosophy a few years later. He first joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1930. Throughout his career as a philosopher and educator, Adler wrote voluminously, consistently focusing on a multi-disciplinary and integrated approach to philosophy, politics, religion, law, and education. He died in San Mateo, California on June 28, 2001.

The most significant part of the collection are copies of the annual sermons delivered by Adler at Grace Episcopal Church in Chicago during the ministry of William L. Casady. The Reverend Casady, born in Connorsville, Indiana, July 12, 1924, was rector of Grace Church from 1979-1989, and each spring, beginning in 1980, he invited Adler to deliver a sermon to the congregation. Following retirement in 1989, William Casady returned to Indiana, where he had begun his ministry in the 1960s, and was instrumental in getting Mortimer Adler to appear at a forum at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Indianapolis in June 1991. Copies of two of his talks delivered at that time are also present here.

The correspondence in the collection dates from February-May, 1994 and consists of letters or copies of letters from William Casady, Robert McHenry, Sue Montgomery, and Ruth Prentiss Peters. The photographs are a black and white portrait study of Adler by Bachrach and a color photograph of Adler, his wife, and Father Casady. Also present in the collection is a seven page bibliography: Books by Mortimer J. Adler, 1927-1991, that also lists works edited by Adler, Great Books of the Western World (2 editions), Gateway to the Great Books, The Great Ideas of Today, and The Great Ideas, A Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World (2 editions), all published through the Encyclopedia Britannica Company, and the Great Treasury of Western Thought, published by R.R. Bowker, 1977. A photocopy of "Morty, the Bookie" by Len Albin, published in 50 Plus, February 1984, an obituary notice, and a news clipping about Adler's memorial service in July 2001, complete the collection.

A folder list is available.

Gift. 2004

Folder list

  • Folder 1: Adler, M.J. Sermons
  • Folder 2: Correspondence, 1994
  • Folder 3: Photographs
  • Folder 4: Printed, bibliography: Books by Mortimer J. Adler
  • Folder 5: Printed, clippings.

Collection size: 24 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.