Pierre Goodrich and the Liberty Fund

  • Public-Policy Reform
  • 1960

Pierre Goodrich was a successful Indianapolis businessman; as son of a former governor he had a deep interest in public affairs; and he loved to read the great classic books. Convinced that a commitment to human liberty and moral goodness needed to be nurtured anew in each generation, he established the Liberty Fund in 1960. Its mission, he wrote, was to contribute “to the preservation, restoration, and development of individual liberty through investigation, research, and educational activity.” When Goodrich died in 1973 he left most of his estate to the fund; further bequests from his widow gave it assets of about $300 million.

Through most of the 1970s the Liberty Fund was a grantmaking foundation. In 1979, it transformed itself into an operating foundation that sponsors its own programs. By 2014, it had hosted about 3,500 small, invitation-only conferences for scholars and students on topics such as “Liberty and Markets in the Writings of Adam Smith” and “Shakespeare’s Conception of Political Liberty.” It has published more than 300 new editions of classic books, such as Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and Human Action: A Treatise on Economics by Ludwig von Mises. In addition to the conferences and books, the Liberty Fund maintains a free online library of important writing on freedom, dating back hundreds of years, and including 459 authors writing in a wide range of fields.

  • Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family (Liberty Fund, 2001)
  • David Lasater and Leslie Lenkowsky, “Pierre Goodrich,” in Notable American Philanthropists (Greenwood Press, 2002)