James Lectures

In 1968, the money to endow the William James Lectures at the Harvard Divinity School was given by the Lindsley Fund, which had been established by Thayer Lindsley. Lindsley, one of the 20th century's most prominent mine developers, was born in 1882. He graduated from Harvard with an A.B. in 1903. His long-standing interest in William James as a teacher and in his religious ideas made it seem appropriate to the Trustees of the John Lindsley Fund in 1968 to establish these lectures in honor of William James, with particular reference to James’ book The Varieties of Religious Experience.

On October 14, 1970 the Divinity School inaugurated the annual lecture series, the William James Lectures on Religious Experience.

Terms of the Fund:

"In 1968 the John Lindsley Fund gave the sum of $50,000 to establish a Harvard Divinity School a fund to endow the William James Lectures on Religious Experience for the purpose of having an outstanding scholar or scholars lecture annually on some aspect of this subject. Mr. Thayer Lindsley's long-standing interest in William James as a teacher and in his religious ideas made it seem appropriate to the Trustees of the Fund to establish these lectures in honor of William James, with particular reference to James' book The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Effective by letter dated September 4, 2009, the sole remaining trustee of the John Lindsley Fund granted permission to amend the terms of the William James Lectures on Religious Experience Fund as follows:

In addition to having an outstanding scholar or scholars annually lecture on some aspect of the subject, Religious Experience, with particular reference to James’ book, Varieties of Religious Experience, we approve the use of income from the Fund for the support of faculty or students working on projects related to religious experience in some relation to William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience or to William James, his areas of research/interest, or those of the circle of scholars for which he was important."

Information about past James lectures can be found in the Excel sheet below.