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R. Buckminster Fuller Collection Architect, Systems Theorist, Designer, and Inventor

About the Collection

The R. Buckminster Fuller Collection, acquired by Stanford Libraries in 1999, contains over 1,400 linear feet of personal and professional papers, manuscripts, drawings, blueprints, audio and video recordings, and models collected and arranged by R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) over the course of his prolific and polymathic career as an architect, designer, mathematician, teacher, philosopher and public speaker. The collection in its entirety resides within the Department of Special Collections at Stanford University, and has been arranged into twenty three distinct series, largely in accordance with the original organization imposed upon the massive archive by Fuller and his archivists during Fuller's lifetime.

Audio and Video Recordings

The R. Buckminster Fuller Collection at Stanford contains approximately 1,700 hours of audio and video tape recordings, films, wire recordings, records and filmstrips. While a handful of these are recordings made about Fuller, the majority are recordings of Fuller's lectures and other professional engagements. Fuller spoke to students at hundreds of campuses around the world, was a keynote speaker at numerous international design and architectural conferences, and gave interviews to the media on a regular basis. In his lectures and discussion, he shares his technical knowledge, comments on society, discusses his own philosophy and work practices, and invites the public to become active participants in realizing a better future. His ability to captivate an audience and to draw connections between scientific principles and human needs made him a much sought-after guest. Furthermore, his public speaking engagements were largely improvised and unscripted, meaning that the recordings provide a fairly good picture of Fuller's current thinking and concerns at different points in time. A masterful public speaker, listeners were known to comment that Fuller was easier to understand in his lectures than in print, as his books were typically wordy and complicated. Thus, the media collection offers important insights into Fuller's thinking and provides an accurate historical record of his activities.

Stanford Libraries has reformatted about 40% of the audio and video recordings to digital formats. Access copies are availabe in the Department of Special Collections' reading room in Green Library.

Photographs and Other Documents

Over 5,000 slides from Series 15 were digitized as well as the clippings index and Bucky's schedule of lectures, projects, and days. All of these are available in the department's reading room.