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New Collection of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies (Records 1974-2007) Opens to the Public at the Cornell University Archive
Randall Forsberg

An archive containing papers from the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies (IDDS) from 1974 – 2007 has been deposited in the Archive Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at the Cornell University Library (Collection Number: 8588). IDDS was created by the noted peace scholar and activist Randall Forsberg (1943 – 2007) to carry out research and analysis in support of policies that would reduce the risk of war. It compiled and published information on worldwide military forces, tracked arms control activities through the Arms Control Reporter, and trained several generations of student interns in the use of sources and policy analysis. Forsberg played a major role in the Nuclear Weapons Freeze movement of the early 1980s, and the archive is particularly rich in materials relating to that period.



Randall Forsberg first became involved in peace research in 1968 while living in Stockholm, where she had moved following her marriage to a Swedish national. Originally hired as a typist by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), she was soon promoted to a research position. In college, she had been an English major, and working at SIPRI was her first exposure to the issues of the arms race and the U.S. role in international affairs. It turned her into a committed activist who valued the role of data and analysis in pursuing the long-term goal of reducing armed violence. While still at SIPRI, for example, she produced an original study, Resources Devoted to Military Research and Development (1972), which became an important source for analysts around the world. She also wrote the section on the strategic nuclear weapons balance for the SIPRI Yearbook, continuing to do so for a number of years after she had left SIPRI.


In 1974 Forsberg, who by then was divorced with a young daughter, decided to return to the United States to enroll as a graduate student in the Defense Studies program at MIT. Once in Cambridge she became active in various local peace organizations, in particular, the Boston Study Group, where she was an important contributor to their 1970 book, The Price of Defense: A New Strategy for Military Spending. During this period Forsberg became convinced that there was a need in the United States for an organization that, similar to SIPRI, would provide independent estimates of data relevant to the arms race and arms control and analysis of alternative policies and their consequences.


Forsberg resolved to fill the need, and in 1980 founded the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies. For the next 27 years, until her death in 2007, she served as Director of the Institute, chief fundraiser, principal researcher and analyst, and mentor to successive generations of interns recruited from Boston universities and colleges. The Institute collected and published international data on military weapons, the arms race, and arms control negotiations. From 1982 to 2007, IDDS published The Arms Control Reporter, a publication that tracked arms control negotiations in a notebook format designed to allow readers to follow a single arms control issue over the lengthy time needed to reach agreement, while simultaneously covering the full range of negotiations underway. The Arms Control Reporter was originally suggested by Chalmers Hardenburgh, who supervised the project for a number of years and helped establish it as a leading source for scholars and government offices around the world. These Institute's data-gathering activities were all designed to produce materials, available to everyone, which could serve as the basis for more thoughtful analyses of public policy.


Forsberg was personally very active in attempting to shape public policy, most notably as one of the leaders of the Nuclear Freeze movement in the early 1980s (she was the author of the 1980 “Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race”), and through her later writings, which emphasized the need to combine nuclear arms control with parallel efforts to deal with conventional weapons. She delivered literally hundreds of speeches in the United States and abroad to civic groups, peace groups, church groups and—not least—audiences of government officials and elected representatives. In 2002, she ran against John Kerry for Senator in Massachusetts to protest his support for the anticipated U.S. invasion of Iraq; she garnered over 22,000 votes, a very respectable number for a write-in candidate who entered the race fifteen days before the election.


Maintaining financial support for the Institute became increasingly difficult in the 1990s and even more so, following the 9/11 attacks. In the final chapter of her career, Forsberg moved to the City College of New York in fall 2006 to take up the newly-endowed Spitzer Chair in Political Science and International Security Studies. She also set in motion the process of closing down IDDS and transferring its activities to her new base. Sadly, she suffered a recurrence of the ovarian cancer that she had overcome years previously and died the following autumn on October 19, 2007.


The Archive

The bulk of the materials in the archive comprise the many boxes of IDDS-related papers which were in storage at the time of Randall Forsberg’s death. There are also some related items donated by friends and associates of Forsberg, as well as papers and correspondence from her early years at SIPRI (Box 17). Box 17 also contains a print copy of her thesis, “Toward a Theory of Peace: The Role of Moral Beliefs” (1997); completion of the dissertation was long delayed by her decision to found IDDS. Boxes 22 and 25-27 contain print copies of the Arms Control Reporter. Boxes 23 and 24 contain audiotapes of many of Forsberg’s talks. At present, the materials can be viewed only at the Library, although we hope to have portions of the archive digitized in the near future.


The IDDS boxes were in no particular order in the storage facility and were not numbered. Fortunately, with the help of Agnieszka Nimark, a Visiting Scholar in the Reppy Institute, we have been able to give the library a fairly complete inventory of the contents, and the library provides a search function that allows one to search by key terms. To review the contents of the boxes, go here:


To use the archive, you will need to create a research account following the instructions here:


Then visit the catalog record for the collection here:

and select the red button on the right that says request item for reading room delivery and mark the boxes and pick the date of your visit. Note that photo identification is required when visiting the archive.


We are grateful to the university's archivist, Evan Earle, for his help in facilitating the transfer of the materials to the university's custody.