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Elise M. Boulding papers

Identifier: COU:210

Scope and Contents

The Elise M. Boulding Collection includes personal and professional papers that concern Dr. Boulding’s work with professional associations, international peace organizations, activist campaigns, educational reform and peace studies curricula, religious institutions, and her family. They are divided into three accessions. The first accession is a Guide that was completed by Doris Mitterling in January 1979, and edited by Sharon Kivenko in September 1999. The Second & Third Accessions are basic preliminary inventories of documents donated by Dr. Boulding between 1979 and 1996.

The Fourth Accession is a survey of documents donated by Dr. Boulding in August 2000. They include Imaging Workshop and Project Materials, papers from Elise Boulding’s involvement with the Quaker community, UNESCO documents, conference and seminar talks and notes, book materials, publication information, COPRED papers, and personal papers as well. All materials are recorded as they were sent to the Archives: in original folders, files and order. Underlined items are titles of hanging folders as they appear in writing on the folders themselves. All items under the title: Untitled, were left in their original order, outside any specific hanging file or category. Items loose in titled hanging files are either listed as “loose papers” or the hanging file itself is numbered as a regular file. In such cases, the words “hanging file” are marked in square parentheses. Finally, all title discrepancies for published materials or for speech or essay titles can be attributed to the very basic nature of the inventory, as well as to Dr. Boulding’s editing process. For example, name differences can be found amongst the files of Dr. Boulding’s most recent publication. In some cases, the work appears as: “The Culture of Peace” and in others, it appears as: “Cultures of Peace”.


  • Creation: 1960 - 1990

Biographical Note

Elise Boulding, sociologist, educator, peace scholar and activist was born Elise Biorn-Hansen in Oslo, Norway on July 6th, 1920 to Joseph Biorn- Hansen and Brigit Johnson. In 1923, Mr. and Mrs. Biorn-Hansen and their three year old child moved to the United States, and by 1929 were naturalized Americans.

Encouraged by her mother, who believed that Elise was destined to “do something important,” she enrolled in the New Jersey College for Women (now known as Douglass College at Rutgers University). In 1940, Elise Biorn-Hansen completed her BA in English. In the spring of 1941, she became a member of the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers) where she subsequently met her philosophical partner and future husband, Kenneth Ewart Boulding. The following summer, on August 31st, 1941, Elise, age 21, and Kenneth, age 31, were wed, and immediately began their lives as a couple dedicated to peacemaking at home and abroad. Soon thereafter, the couple moved to Iowa where Elise Biorn-Hansen-Boulding began her work towards a Masters degree. From 1945-1946, she worked as a research assistant for the Family Adjustments in Wartime Project at the Department of Sociology at Iowa State College. In 1947 she and husband Kenneth welcomed, John Russell, their first of five children, into the world. Despite her duties as wife and new mother, Mrs. Boulding kept-up her academic work in Sociology. In 1949, she submitted her Masters thesis entitled “Factors in Family Separation Which Influence the Course of Adjustment to War Separation and Reunion,” and subsequently received her Master of Arts in Sociology from Iowa State College.

From 1949 through to 1955, Elise Boulding devoted much of her time to motherhood. In 1949, she gave birth to Mark David, and then in 1951 came Christine Anne. Philip Daniel was born in 1953, and finally, William Frederic, the youngest of Elise and Kenneth’s children, was born in 1955. Soon thereafter, Elise once again directed her energy toward her studies and teaching career. From 1957 to 1960, she held a variety of research associate positions and immediately found herself involved in international peace work. Form 1960 to 1963 Boulding worked as the editor of the International Peace Research Letter which led her to a lifetime of work developing the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) a highly active and effective international peace organization. Her work in the area of peace studies became most effective and influential when she began to merge it with her interest in futures studies. In 1961 Dr. Boulding translated, from the Dutch, Fred Polak’s classic work, Image of the Future, and used it as a tool for peace studies and social change workshops.

In 1963, Elise Boulding was invited to work first as an Assistant Professor and then as an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In between academic appointments, Boulding went back to school for her Ph.D., receiving it from Michigan University in 1969. Furthermore, from 1967 to 1970, Boulding worked diligently in the area of women’s peace efforts as the International Chair of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). In the early seventies, Dr. Boulding was given a position as Professor of Sociology at CU Boulder and simultaneously worked as Associate Editor of The American Sociologist.

The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were extremely successful and busy years for Dr. Boulding. She remained fully committed to her roles as mother and as wife, as well to her membership in the Quaker community. Furthermore, her dedication to peace work and teaching never faltered. Dr. Boulding’s list of professional accomplishments are both academic as well as organizational and activist. She held professorships at CU Boulder and Dartmouth College while she worked extensively with a range of peace organizations. From 1967 to 1970, Dr. Boulding was the International Chair of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Moreover, she and her husband, the late Kenneth Boulding, internationally known economist and peace researcher, were the founders of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) in 1964, and its American counterpart, The Consortium on Peace, Research, Education and Development (COPRED) in 1970. These efforts were made as an attempt to link peace research, education and activism2. She was the Chair of COPRED from 1970 to 1972. Dr. Boulding also worked as the Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association from 1989 to 1991, and then as President from 1992 to 1996. In addition to this, Elise Boulding worked extensively with UNESCO, and for the establishment of the Japan-based United Nations University; with the American and International Sociological Associations; with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and with the Interfaith Peace Council. Elise Boulding strongly believed in the importance of including values of peace and justice in school curricula and dedicated her life to making it a reality .

From 1973 right through to today, Boulding has been honored for her work in a variety of ways. She has won alumnae achievement awards from both Douglass College as well as from the University of Michigan. She has been granted awards for her work as a feminist scholar and leader from the National Council of Women, the National Women’s Forum, and from the Sisters of Loretta. In addition, Boulding has been honored and awarded for her work as an educator and as an international peacemaker. In 1990 Dr. Boulding was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on non-violence and conflict resolution. In 1995, the American Sociological Association presented Elise Boulding with a Distinguished Career Award. That very same year, COPRED honored her with an Outstanding Lifetime Service to COPRED Award, and the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century awarded her with a Global Citizens’ Award. Finally, 1996, Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace Center awarded Dr. Boulding its first Peace Maker of the Year award after which she announced her retirement and plan to move away from Colorado to live closer to her children and grandchildren in Massachusetts. Elise passed away in June of 2010.

Upon her departure from Boulder in November 1996, Dr. Boulding vowed never to stop her active work in peace advocacy, research and education, and has been adding to her already extensive body of published books and essays ever since. In large part, Dr. Boulding’s peace work has emerged via her volumes of publications, essays and lecture tours and has contributed to the world of peace studies in a variety of extremely valuable ways. Her books include:

Image of the Future (translated from the Dutch De Toekomst is Verleden Tyd, by Fred Polak; Oceana Press, 1961); Handbook of International Data on Women (with Carson, Greenstein, and Nuss; New York: Halsted Press, 1976);

Women in the Twentieth Century World (Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1977);

From a Monastery Kitchen (New York: Harper & Row, 1976);

Children’s Rights and the Wheel of Life (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Press, 1979), [written especially for the International Year of the Child];

Bibliography on World Conflict and Peace (with Passmore and Gassler; Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1979);

The Social System of the Planet Earth (with K. Boulding and G. Burgess; Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1980);

Women and the Social Costs of Economic Development: Two Colorado Case Studies (with Moen, Lillydahl, and Palm, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1981);

Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for and Interdependent World (New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1988; Syracuse University Press, 1990);

One Small Plot of Heaven: Reflections of a Quaker Sociologist on Family Life (Wallingford, Pennsylvania: Pendle Hill Publications, 1989); Peace Culture and Society: Transnational Dialogue (with Brigagao and Clements, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1991);

New Agendas for Peace Research: Conflict and Security Reexamined (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Press, 1992);

The Underside of History: A View of Women Through Time (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1976; Revised Edition, Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, 1992);

Studies in the Interconnectedness of Peace in the Middle East and the World: Perspectives from Europe, and Latin America (Budapest, Hungary: IPRA/ Research Institute for Social Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1993);

Building Peace in the Middle East: Challenges from States and Civil Society (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1994);

The Future: Images and Processes (with K. Boulding, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1995).


130 linear feet (107 boxes)

Language of Materials



Dr. Elise M. Boulding (1920- 2010), these papers concern her personal life and academic career. In 1941, the 21 year-old Elise Biorn-Hansen married the economist, Kenneth Boulding. Elise Boulding is noted for her active role in many peace and research oriented groups. She was a University of Colorado Boulder professor as well as a professor emerita of Sociology at Dartmouth College. She was involved with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), the Consortium on Peace Research Education and Development (COPRED) among other organizations. Her service on the board of the United Nations University and the International Jury of the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education helped further international efforts toward including peace education in curricula around the globe. In 1990, Boulding was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on non-violence and conflict resolution; and in 1996, Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace Center awarded Dr. Boulding its first Peace Maker of the Year award. The collection includes personal and professional papers that concern Dr. Boulding’s work with professional associations, international peace organizations, activist campaigns, educational reform and peace studies curricula, religious institutions, and her family.


This collection is arranged in original order in which we attained it from the donor, with a box level inventory lists from each accession.

In Progress
First and Second Accessions and Guide/ Inventory by Doris Mitterling, January 1979 First and Second Accessions Edited by Sharon Kivenko, September 1999 Third Accession by Sharon Kivenko, October 1999- January 2000 Fourth Accession Survey by Sharon Kivenko, November 2000
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States