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Series I: Correspondence
Series III: Professional Activities
Series IV: Columbia University
Series V: Writings
Series VI: Iter Italicum
Series VII: Notebooks and Notes
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 9 series
Professional, personal, and family correspondence, manuscripts, memorand, reports, minutes, documents, photographs, microfilms and printed materials. The extensive correspondence files written in German, Italian, English, and French, document his life as a student and teacher in German during the 1920s, his removal as a teacher by the Nazis in 1933, his new life in Italy during the 1930s until the Fascists barred him from teaching in 1938, and finally his emigration to the United States in 1939. There are long detailed letters between Kristeller and his parents, letters with his family, letters of inquiry to determine the fate of his relatives during World War II and after, letters to aid scholars and students escape from Nazi Europe. Kristeller's vast professional correspondence deals with all aspects of teaching, research, and especially scholarly publication in the fields of philosophy, medieval and renaissance intellectual history, classical Greek and latin texts and their manuscript sources. There are detailed letters of advice and criticism to his Columbia students writing theses under his direction, and scores of letters to American and European scholars who submitted manuscripts to him for his valued opinion
His scholarly projects files reveal his active role in fostering international cooperation among scholars of medieval and renaissance studies through his participation in the American Council of Learned Societies, the Mediaeval Academy of America, the Renaissance Society of America, the International Federation of Renaissance Societies, and the Committee to Rescue Italian Art. There are extensive files on his editorship of the CATALOGUS TRANSLATIONUM, a project to catalog all medieval and renaissance latin translations of and commentaries on latin and Greek classics, and his co-directorship of the NUOVA COLLANA DI TESTI UMANISTIC INEDITI O RARI. collections of unpublished humanistic texts. He was also on the editorial board of the JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS and the book review editor of the JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY. Among his manuscripts is the original German holograph for his book THE PHILOSOPHY OF MARSILIO FICINO (1937). Also included is a file of printed ephemera consisting of pamphlets, periodicals, brochures, flyers, invitations, posters, and clippings concerning his addresses, lectures, professional papers, publications, and other scholarly activities.
1982 ADDITION: General correspondence with scholars, 1951-1983, chiefly 1979-1983, and correspondence, manuscripts, and notes for his ITER ITALICUM; A FINDING LIST OF UNCATALOGED HUMANISTIC MANUSCRIPTS OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALIAN AND OTHER LIBRARIES (London, Warburg Institute, 1963-). This first installment includes detailed descriptive bibliographical entries for manuscripts, correspondence with scholars containing additional significant data on specific manuscripts, and drafts of his manuscript for this on-going publication.
1985 ADDITION: Additional correspondence and subject files for the CATALOGUS TRANSLATIONUM ET COMMENTARIORUM, 1944-1968, and correspondence files for THE JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS, 1979-1985, additional manuscript and research notes for ITER ITALICUM.. (Vols. 1-3).
1986 ADDITION: Manuscripts, notes, and related correspondence, much of which contains data used in his books, contributions to monographs, festschriften, articles, conference papers, addresses, lectures and other remarks; files on his participation in the NEH study: "To Reclaim a Legacy: a Report on the Humanities in Higher Education" issued by William Bennett and dealing with the broader issues of American cultural policy and its relation to politics; printed materials consisting of reviews, essays, and comments by others on Kristeller's scholarship and publications.
1987 ADDITION: Manuscripts for Vol. 4 of ITER ITALICUM.. and correspondence, notes, and excerpts for the editing of Vols. 4 and 5 of the ITER.
1988 ADDITION: General correspondence, 1987, lectures and lecture notes for Columbia courses and non-Columbia conferences, meetings, seminars, etc., early manuscripts and writings, 1928-1935, and 83 notebooks for POMPONAZZI AND THE HISTORY OF ITALIAN UNIVERSITIES (unpublished). Correspondence with related research materials for Vol. 5 of ITER ITALICUM.., additional notes and notebooks, and printed materials by and about Kristeller.
1995 ADDITION: 310 microfilm reels (38 missing) of rare monographic materials acquired from a variety of American and foreign libraries.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located onsite.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
The microfilms of rare monographic materials acquired from American and foreign libraries are available for use by certified members of the Columbia academic community. Non-Columbia researchers must apply to Professor Kristeller's estate for access (Lya Friedrich; 450 Park Avenue; New York, New York 10022.
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Paul Oskar Kristeller papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material-- at Columbia
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Processed RL 03/--/1989.
310 microfilms of rare monographic items from a variety of American and foreign libraries Processed 09/18/1995.
2012-02-03 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2020-01-17 Removed incorrect restriction on microfilm. kws
History / Biographical Note
Paul Oskar Kristeller, the Frederick Woodbridge Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, was a major scholar of Renaissance philosophy and Renaissance humanism.
Paul Oskar Kristeller was born Paul Oskar Gräfenberg on May 22, 1905 in Berlin Germany to well-to-do Jewish parents. Paul Oskar's father, Oskar Gräfenber, was a merchant who died of a heart attack shortly after Paul Oskar's birth. In 1911 Alice Magnus married the wealthy industrialist Heinrich Kristeller, whose last name Paul Oskar Kristeller adopted in 1919.
Kristeller, always intellectually curious, attended school at the Mommsen Gymnasium in Berlin starting in 1914 and graduating with honors in 1923. The curriculum included an extensive foreign language program, including 12 years of Latin training. In 1923 Kristeller started college, studying philosophy, medieval history, and mathematics at Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Marburg between the years 1923-1928. He went on to continue his studies at the University of Heidelberg, earning his PhD in 1928 with a thesis on Plotinus. He went on to do a Habilitation with Martin Heidegger in Freiburg, writing his Habilitationsschrift on the fifteenth century Platonist Marsilio Ficino, a thinker that would continue to figure in Kristeller's scholarship throughout his career.
The rise of the National Socialist government in Germany and their racist and anti-Semitic policies put an end to Kristeller's academic career in Germany in 1933. With his career in Germany cut short, Kristeller went to Italy where he taught German at a number of schools and Universities including the Istitito Superiore di Magistero in Florence and the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and the University of Pisa, where he also received the degree of Dottore in Filosofia in 1937. He remained in Italy, studying and teaching until 1938, but as the Mussolini regime gained more power in Italy, Kristeller began his attempts to secure an academic position in the United States. He eventually received an invitation to teach a graduate seminar at Yale University in 1939, and he remained based in the United States for the rest of his life, becoming a US citizen in 1945.
Kristeller obtained a permanent faculty position in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University in the fall of 1939 where he was to spend the rest of his professional career. He was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1956 and taught classes, gave lectures until his retirement in 1973. Even after his retirement, Kristeller remained an active member of the Columbia Community giving occasional lectures and continuing his own research and scholarly projects up until the time of his death in 1999.
Kristeller was an internationally recognized scholar on the intellectual history of the Renaissance. He published widely, including a book length study on Marsilio Ficino and hundreds of articles on topics in Renaissance humanistic thought and Renaissance medicine. Though his scholarship is prodigious, he is probably best known for his work compiling research guides and manuscript catalogs, particularly his magnum opus the Iter Italicum, a seven volume catalog of previously uncataloged humanistic manuscripts.
Kristeller received many academic honors and accolades over the course of his career. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, received a Guggenheim fellowship, and was awarded a Macarthur "genius" award. Kristeller was a member of editorial board of the =Journal of the History of Ideas, and was a founding member, and president, of the Renaissance Society of America.
In 1940 Kristeller married Edith Lind Lewinnek, another German Jewish émigré from Hamburg. Edith Kristeller received a diploma in physical therapy from New York University, and her medical degree from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. She spent most of her career working in rehabilitative medicine at various New York City hospitals. Edith Lind Kristeller died in 1992.
Paul Oskar Kristeller died on June 7, 1999 at the age of 94.