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Paul Oskar Kristeller papers, 1910-1989

Summary Information

Abstract

Professional and personal papers of the German émigré scholar Paul Oskar Kristeller. Kristeller was a professor of philosophy at Columbia University and a world renowned scholar of Renaissance humanism and Renaissance philosophy who published widely, notably his major catalog of uncataloged manuscripts from the Italian Renaissance, the Iter Italicum.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0729
Bib ID 4079550 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Kristeller, Paul Oskar, 1905-1999
Title Paul Oskar Kristeller papers, 1910-1989
Physical Description 115 linear feet (172 boxes: 82 document boxes 72 record storage cartons 18 notecard boxes.:)
Language(s) Materials in English, German, Italian, French, and Latin.
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Portions of the collection are closed for reprocessing; please speak with RBML Staff for access.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in VIII series Series I: Correspondence, 1926-1998 Subseries I.1: General Correspondence, 1920-1995; Subseries I.2: Family and Personal Correspondence, 1913-1997; Series II: Personal and Biographical Material, 1905-1997; Series III: Professional Activities, 1941-1996 Subseries III.1 : General, 1941-1996; Subseries III.2: Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, 1942-1986; Subseries III.3: Committee to Rescue Italian Art (CRIA), 1966-1968; Subseries III.4: Journal of the History of Ideas, 1941-1987; Subseries III.5: Professional Contacts; Series IV: Columbia University, 1939-1989 Subseries IV.1: Subject Files, 1939-1968; Subseries IV.2: Correspondence, 1941-1989; Subseries IV.3: University Seminars 1945-1976; Subseries IV.4: Course Notes, 1940-1978; Series V: Writings, 1926-1995 Subseries V.1: Manuscripts-- Books and Major Works, 1926-1992; Subseries V.2: Articles and Essays, 1926-1995; Subseries V.3: Lectures and Speeches, 1940-1993; Subseries V.4: Festschrifts and Memorials, 1978-1993; Subseries V.5: Book Reviews, 1930-1995; Series VI: Iter Italicum, 1949-1997 Subseries VI.1: Research, 1949-1986; Subseries VI.2: Editorial and Administrative Files, 1949-1997; Subseries VI.3: Manuscript, 1987-1997; Series VII: Notebooks and Notes, 1920-1990 Subseries VII.1: Notebooks on the History of Universities, 1940s-1987; Subseries VII.2: Unidentified Notebooks, undated, 1945-1946; Subseries VII.3: Research and Topical Notes, 1920-1990; Subseries VII.4: Research Notecards; Series VIII: Printed Material

Description

Summary

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.

  • Series I: Correspondence

    This series contains Paul Oskar Kristeller's correspondence, incoming as well as some carbons of outgoing correspondence. The series is divided into two suberies, the first is General Correspondence that focuses on correspondence with professional contacts and the second is Personal and Family Correspondence which has a more personal focus.

  • Series II: Personal and Biographical Material

    This series includes personal, biographical, and genealogical material related to both Paul Oskar Kristeller and his wife Edith. There are copies of Kristeller's memoirs "Recollections of My Life" that he wrote and shared with friends and colleagues towards the end of his life, as well as his C.V., Bibliographies, and awards and honors that he received throughout his career. There are also numerous photographs included in this series-- both his family and travel photographs and photographs of Edith Kristeller's family. This series also includes documents related to both Paul and Edith's attempts to collect indemnity pensions from the German Government, their attempts to locate relatives missing after the holocaust, and family trees and genealogical material.

  • Series III: Professional Activities

    This series consists of Kristeller's correspondence, research, and writings with various associations, societies, and committees. The records focus on project research for articles and books along with administrative tasks for each organization. The three prominent components of the series are on the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, the Committee to Rescue Italian Art, and the Journal of the History of Ideas.

  • Series IV: Columbia University

    This subseries includes papers and records related to Paul Oskar Kristeller's long career at Columbia University, including material related to his teaching and activities as well as administrative and other University activities.

  • Series V: Writings

    The writings series has been arranged in three subseries: Manuscripts, Lectures and Speeches, and Articles and Essays. Kristeller often had several drafts of his texts with extended annotation and revisions. Many of these drafts have accompanying research notes, notecards, and correspondence with librarians, colleagues, and publishers. This series spans Kristeller's entire career and contains writings in English, German, Italian, and French.

  • Series VI: Iter Italicum

    This series is comprised of research notes, manuscripts, and other records related to the Iter Italicum-- the catalog of previously uncataloged or incompletely cataloged Italian humanistic manuscripts, a major work of scholarship that is considered Kristeller's magnum opus.

  • Series VII: Notebooks and Notes

    This series contains research notes, correspondence with libraries and colleagues, and some manuscript drafts related to various areas of Kristeller's research interests.

  • Series VIII: Printed Material

    This series contains printed material from Kristeller's library, some by Kristeller himself, but the majority are offprints, articles, and books by other-- many inscribed to Kristeller by the author. This series also includes lists of books and articles that formed Kristeller's personal library.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Portions of the collection are closed for reprocessing; please speak with RBML Staff for access.

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. Some of these films are being held by Michael Stoller, and access to these unprocessed films is through him, and by appointment only. The right to photocopy or otherwise reproduce the films in whole or in part belongs to the owning institution before such copying is undertaken.

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.

Preferred Citation

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

Catalogus et Commentariorum Records

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed RL 03/--/1989.

310 microfilms of rare monographic items from a variety of American and foreign libraries Processed 09/18/1995.

Revision Description

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.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Addresses Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Articles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bibliographies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Brochures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Card files Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Essays Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Festschriften Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Handbills Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Invitations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lecture notes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lectures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Obituaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Posters Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speeches Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theses Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
minutes (administrative records) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
American Council of Learned Societies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Anti-Semitism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, Latin -- To 1700 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Civilization, Medieval Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Civilization, Modern Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Classical education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Classical literature Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College teachers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Committee to Rescue Italian Art Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Editors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ficino, Marsilio, 1433-1499 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Humanism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Intellectual life -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International Federation of Renaissance Societies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kristeller, Paul Oskar, 1905-1999 (Title of work: Iter Italicum.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Latin language, Medieval and modern -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Latin literature, Medieval and modern -- Bio-bibliography Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts, Greek Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts, Latin Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Medieval Academy of America Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Middle Ages Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Endowment for the Humanities Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Philosophers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Philosophy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Philosophy, Renaissance Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pomponazzi, Pietro, 1462-1525 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Renaissance Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Renaissance Society of America Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scholarly publishing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scholars Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

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.