Liberty Fund History

"It is intended to use this Fund to the end that some hopeful contribution may be made to the preservation, restoration, and development of individual liberty through investigation, research, and educational activity.”

—Pierre F. Goodrich

Our Founders

pierre goodrich

Pierre F. Goodrich

Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis businessman and lawyer, founded Liberty Fund in 1960. Upon his death in 1973, Mr. Goodrich left a portion of his estate to the Foundation for the purpose of exploring the many dimensions of liberty.

Mr. Goodrich, a man of extensive intellectual interests, reflected deeply upon the human condition. He read widely in the Great Books of both the Western and Eastern traditions.

Mr. Goodrich observed that human beings are far from perfect and have only a partial understanding of their own nature. Institutions, in turn, are fraught with imperfections. He was particularly concerned that intellectual hubris leads to pretensions of certainty about the nature of the world and to preposterous and dangerous “solutions.” This abuse of reason leads to restrictive institutional arrangements that concentrate political and economic power. Such concentrations invariably erode liberty and moral values.

The responsible course of action in an imperfect world, Mr. Goodrich believed, consists of making choices that favor liberty from among the imperfect options available. A commitment to liberty in all its dimensions offers the best chance to fragment and decentralize power and to release individual, creative initiative. A free society can maintain and enhance individual liberty and excellence, a genuine concern for others, a framework for social order, and economic well-being.

Mr. Goodrich believed that education in a free society requires a dialogue centered in the great ideas of civilization. He saw learning as an ongoing process of discovery, not limited to traditional institutional settings or specific ages. Education is, in his view, the lifelong responsibility of each individual. Liberty Fund carries out this conviction by promoting the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals through full and open discussion among people of varying ages, backgrounds, and occupations.

Enid Goodrich sm

Enid Goodrich

Enid Goodrich of Indianapolis received a resident nursing degree from St. Vincent Hospital and a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She married Pierre Goodrich in Chicago in 1941.

Mrs. Goodrich’s commitment to intellectual pursuits and to the social and artistic life of her community showed in her longtime membership in the Indianapolis Propylaeum, a women’s literary and social club, as well as in her lasting associations with the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, and the Midwest Eye Institute. For her contribution of financial support, time, and hard work, the Indiana Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives gave Mrs. Goodrich the Individual Philanthropist of the Year award in 1994. That same year, Indiana Governor Evan Bayh named her a Sagamore of the Wabash. This award is a tribute to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state.

Mrs. Goodrich worked alongside her husband to create the Liberty Fund Basic Memorandum, the document that still inspires and directs Liberty Fund’s activities. She was designated a Founder Member for Life of the Board of Directors and served as the organization’s Vice Chairman, a position she held until her death in 1996. She was also a Founding Member and Director of Thirty Five Twenty, Inc., now known as the Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation, and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Winchester Foundation. Both organizations maintain close ties to Liberty Fund.

 

Hundreds of Publications. Thousands of Conferences. Countless Insights.

For more than 60 years, Liberty Fund has been a meaningful part of many lives. See what they have to say.

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A History of our Programs

Liberty Fund Conferences

Conferences

Liberty Fund’s conference program began with a series of conferences directed by founder Pierre Goodrich during the 1960s and early 1970s. These conferences set the direction for our programs, keeping central themes at the core and expanding into diverse but related areas.

The core of the conference program is individualized conferences on a wide array of topics, including law, religion, history, literature, science, political theory, the arts, journalism, and the key thinkers of Western civilization. In 2004, we expanded the scope and format of our conferences to include co-sponsoring institutions. In response to a global pandemic, Liberty Fund hosted its first virtual conference in 2020. We continue to look for new ways of exploring the ideal of liberty while maintaining the programs and values for which Liberty Fund was established.

Publishing

Publishing

Since Liberty Fund’s first publication in 1973, we have published over 400 titles for scholars, students, and general readers that explore the ideal of liberty across many disciplines, including economics, political thought, American history, law, and education.

Our books are edited and translated by world-renowned scholars who bring to the task the expertise these works deserve. Introductions and forewords provide context; annotations, bibliographies, and other supplementary material further support the text. Printed books are designed and manufactured according to the highest standards of book production—all Liberty Fund books, both hardcover and paperback, are printed on acid-free paper and are bound with sewn signatures, making them invaluable, lasting additions to any library.

online resources

Online Resources

Beginning in 1999 with the Library of Economics and Liberty (Econlib), a site dedicated to advancing the study of economics, markets, and liberty, Liberty Fund has responded to the growing demand for online resources. In 2004, the Online Library of Liberty (OLL) was developed to offer free access to an extensive library of scholarly works concerning individual liberty. Law & Liberty, a site focused on the classical liberal tradition of law and how it shapes a society of free and responsible individuals, was launched in 2012. Finally in 2017, Liberty Fund received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to create AdamSmithWorks, a site dedicated to Smith’s works and to educational materials relevant to Smith..

Our Amagi Logo

Cuneiform Inscription

The History

The cuneiform inscription that serves as Liberty Fund’s logo and as a design element in our books is the earliest known written appearance of the word “freedom” (amagi) or “liberty.” It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 B.C. in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

According to Samuel Noah Kramer in From the Tablets of Sumer (1956), Lagash was the site of the first recorded social reform movement. Once considered a relatively free society of farmers, cattle breeders, boatmen, fishermen, merchants, and craftsmen, the Lagashites found that a change in political power had stripped them of their political and economic freedoms and subjected them to heavy taxation and exploitation by wealthy officials.

Sumerian historians believe that at this low point in Lagash’s history, Urukagina became the leader of the Sumerian city-state of Girsu/Lagash and led a popular movement that resulted in the reform of the oppressive legal and governmental structure of Sumeria.

Although Urukagina’s reforms were short-lived, the oppressive conditions in the city before the reforms were recorded in cuneiform on several clay cones and an oval-shaped plaque excavated by the French in 1878. On the tablets is found the first written reference to the concept of liberty (amagi or amargi, literally, “return to the mother”), used in reference to the process of reform.

 

The Amagi and Liberty Fund

Today, the amagi is a key element of the Liberty Fund logo and can be found throughout our building and inside the front and back covers of our books. We believe in preserving this ancient cuneiform to ensure its meaning is never lost.

We find that the amagi tends to spark curiosity and start discussions about its origin. We are honored to share the story of the Sumerians who believed in communicating the importance of liberty.

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