The Rationalist collection

The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) has been influential in its involvement in the educational, economic, religious and political debates in Australian society. The Rationalist Library was founded in 1909 by the first Secretary of the Victorian Rationalist Association (VRA), Edward Martineau Higginson, to support its campaigns and promote public debate.

Victoria University Library accepted the Rationalist Library as one of its research collections, and this collection of books, journals and pamphlets is now called the Rationalist Collection.


 As a result the Rationalist Collection contains books, pamphlets and journals on a diverse range of subjects including:

  • Australian history
  • Australian politics
  • education
  • theology
  • economics
  • civil society
  • anthropology.

Works on philosophy, especially Humanism and Free Thought, are a feature of the collection. Many of the publications come from the Rationalist Press Association based in England but with branches in many countries world-wide. Featured authors include Joseph McCabe and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius.


Access to the collection

The Rationalist collection is a research collection. The items can't be borrowed, but may be viewed on appointment.

In the library catalogue, these items have the prefix FTS RATIONALIST before the shelf number.

To access material in the collection, please email our Special Collections librarians. You will receive an emailed response within five working days (Mon-Fri) and a suitable time will be arranged.

You can view the items in the Special Collections reading room on level 4 of the Footscray Park campus library.

Email: [email protected] .