Your Stories

Bertrand Russell and the Origin of The Peace Symbol

STORY BY: Bill Urwin
YEAR: 1958
LOCATION: United Kingdom

Bill tells a story about the origin of the famous peace symbol, which became popular in the late 1960s. The symbol (designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom) was chosen for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (C.N.D.) by president Bertrand Russell. Russell was a British writer, scholar and nuclear disarmament pioneer, who led protests in the UK in the 1950s and 60s. The design of the symbol itself came from semaphore, a method of silent communication between ships, before the advent of radio communication. Semaphore was a series of flags held at different positions and each position conveyed a letter. N has arms outstretched on opposite sides, and D has arms outstretched up and down. Together, the letters N D (for nuclear disarmament) superimposed upon each other form the peace symbol, within the confines of a circle. It became adopted by the hippie movement of the 1960s, and has since become one of the most iconic symbols ever created. Thanks for sharing, Bill.

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