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
|Bib ID:||4079550 View CLIO record|
|Creator(s):||Kristeller, Paul Oskar, 1905-1999.|
1905-1998 [Bulk Dates:
|Physical description:||114.78 linear feet (171 boxes; 81 document boxes, 72 record
storage cartons, 18 notecard boxes)
|Language(s):|| In English, German, Italian, Franch, & Latin.
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
More information »|
This collection is arranged in VIII series
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Scope and Content
This collection documents the professional, and to a lesser extent, the personal life of
Paul Oskar Kristeller, a professor of philosopher and scholar of Renaissance philosophy
and Renaissance humanism. The collection contains material related to Kristeller's
teaching and professional activities, as well as a large number of manuscripts of
articles, essays, lectures, and books written or edited by Kristeller. In addition to
manuscripts, the collections contains correspondence (both personal and professional in
nature), research notes, photographs, and a large series of material related to the
research, writing, and publication of his major work of scholarship the Iter Italicum, a
catalog of unprocessed Italian humanistic manuscripts.
Series I: Correspondence, 1926-1998
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.
Subseries I.1: General Correspondence, 1920-1995
This subseries contains professional and personal correspondence spanning the
majority of Kristeller's career. Kristeller often kept carbons of outgoing
correspondence. When those carbons are available they are filed with the
letters to which they respond.
Subseries I.2: Family and Personal Correspondence, 1913-1997
This subseries includes correspondence with Kristeller's family and personal
friends, including letters between Paul and Edith Kristeller and letters
between Paul Oskar and his parents and sister.
Series II: Personal and Biographical Material, 1905-1997
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, 1941-1996
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,
Committee to Rescue Italian Art, and the
Journal of the
History of Ideas.
Subseries III.1 : General, 1941-1996
Subseries 1 contains mainly correspondence, with some research and writings,
with various committees, societies, and organizations. Prominent records are
with the Renaissance Society of America and The State of Learning in the
Humanities in Higher Education, also known as the Bennett Committee. Other
folders pertain to literary projects, conferences and lectures given on both
the west and east coast. The file on the Madrid Leonardo Report are the
contents of a dossier assembled by Kristeller, Theodore Beardsley, Jr., and
Carlo Pedretti to investigate the circumstances surrounding the rediscovery of
a Leonardo manuscript in a library in Madrid.
Subseries III.2: Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, 1942-1986
Referred to as CTC, the
Catalogus Translationus et
is a compilation of Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin
translations and commentaries. Subseries 2 is comprised of two sections,
correspondence and topical files. Correspondence is arranged by date, with some
alphabetized folders, including a portion on the Editorial Board. Multiple
people can be found in all three areas. Topical files are alphabetized with an
emphasis on Greek and Latin author lists, Libanius, Persius, contributors
(under Subject Files), and a draft of Volume I.
Subseries III.3: Committee to Rescue Italian Art (CRIA), 1966-1968
CRIA is a committee formed in response to the flood of 1966 in Florence, Italy.
Subseries 3 contains: committee correspondence, photographs of the flood
damage, academic articles on the damage done to works of art and manuscripts,
and reports on committee work. Included are related books and articles on the
Subseries III.4: Journal of the History of Ideas, 1941-1987
Subseries 4 includes committee correspondence, minutes and reports. Note that
general folders include a mix of these three.
Subseries III.5: Professional Contacts
This series is comprised of notecards listing Kristeller's colleagues from
around the world along with their addresses, affiliations, and research
Series IV: Columbia University, 1939-1989
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.
Subseries IV.1: Subject Files, 1939-1968
The Subject Files subseries includes files related to Kristeller's activites at
the University, including syllabi, a report on the University libraries
Renaissance holdings, and information related to the Italian Department.
Subseries IV.2: Correspondence, 1941-1989
This subseries is comprised of Kristeller's correspondence regarding
departmental and University matters. Also included in this subseries is
correspondence related to theses and dissertations advised by Kristeller.
Subseries IV.3: University Seminars 1945-1976
This subseries includes records related to Kristeller's participation in the
Columbia University Seminar on the Renaissance.
Subseries IV.4: Course Notes, 1940-1978
This subseries includes lecture notes and course notes from courses taught by
Kristeller over the course of his tenure at the University. These notes are
arranged alphabetically by course title; with courses that Kristeller regularly
taught the file may include notes from several years, showing how the course
changed over time.
Series V: Writings, 1926-1995
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.
Subseries V.1: Manuscripts-- Books and Major Works, 1926-1992
This subseries is comprised of manuscripts and drafts of Kristeller's major
works and monographs. Correspondence related to the research, editing,
publication, and distribution of volumes may be included, as may research notes
compiled by Kristeller.
Subseries V.2: Articles and Essays, 1926-1995
This subseries contains articles and essays written by Kristeller over the
course of his career. While most of these are academic pieces published in
scholarly journals or volumes of edited essays, the subseries also includes
some unpublished seminar papers from Kristeller's time as a student and a few
less formal biographical pieces and interviews.
Subseries V.3: Lectures and Speeches, 1940-1993
This subseries contains lectures, conference papers, and other addresses and
presentations given by Kristeller. As Kristeller often gave the same lecture a
number of times, the lectures are arranged alphabetically by their title rather
than arranged by conference name or date. These files often contain
correspondence and conference programs related to conferences where Kristeller
Subseries V.4: Festschrifts and Memorials, 1978-1993
This subseries includes articles, lectures, and obituaries given to celebrate
or memorialize Kristeller's colleagues.
Subseries V.5: Book Reviews, 1930-1995
This series is comprised of both reviews of scholarly work written by
Kristeller, and other's reviews of Kristeller's own scholarly work.
This series is comprised of research notes, manuscripts, and other records related
-- the catalog of previously
uncataloged or incompletely cataloged Italian humanistic manuscripts, a major work
of scholarship that is considered Kristeller's magnum opus.
Subseries VI.1: Research, 1949-1986
The research files are divided into two main sections-- chronological notebooks
and country files. The notebooks are Kristeller's notes from his site visits to
libraries around the world. The country files include correspondence,
manuscript catalogs, and notes. The arrangement of the country files reflects
the arrangement of the work as a whole: the files are arranged by country, and
by city and then library or institution within each city.
Subseries VI.2: Editorial and Administrative Files, 1949-1997
The editorial and administrative subseries is comprised of financial records,
grant proposals, publicity material, contracts, and distribution lists related
to the editing and publication of the work.
Subseries VI.3: Manuscript, 1987-1997
This subseries includes drafts and proofs (many corrected in Kristeller's hand)
manuscript. This subseries
includes drafts of the work's index, as well as notes for future addenda to the
work and possible inclusions for later editions.
Series VII: Notebooks and Notes, 1920-1990
This series contains research notes, correspondence with libraries and colleagues,
and some manuscript drafts related to various areas of Kristeller's research
Subseries VII.1: Notebooks on the History of Universities, 1940s-1987
These notebooks include research notes and drafts related to Kristeller's
research on the history of Universities and Humanistic education in Europe.
Subseries VII.2: Unidentified Notebooks, undated, 1945-1946
These notebooks include Kristeller's research notes. These notebooks are not
identified by project, but some include notes related to manuscript
Subseries VII.3: Research and Topical Notes, 1920-1990
The Research and Topical Notes subseries includes notes, manuscript drafts, and
correspondence related to numerous research projects, books, and articles.
These files are arranged alphabetically by research topic.
Subseries VII.4: Research Notecards
This subseries contains notecards including bibliographic citations related to
his ongoing research projects.
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.
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Using the Collection
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Paul Oskar Kristeller Papers; Box and
Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material-- at Columbia
Catalogus et Commentariorum Records
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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and
Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University
Libraries Digital Library Program Division
This collection was processed by Carrie Hintz and Lea Osborne with Amaya Rivera, GSAS
2011 and Danielle Childs, Barnard College 2010. Finding aid written by Carrie Hintz in
Finding aid written by Carrie Hintz in February of 2012
Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion
June 26, 2009
Finding aid written in English.
xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
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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.
|Nat'l / Int'l Archives:|
|American Council of Learned Societies.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Authors, Latin--To 1700.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Committee to Rescue Italian Art.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Emigration and immigration.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Ficino, Marsilio, 1433-1499.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|International Federation of Renaissance
|Journal of Philosophy.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Journal of the History of Ideas.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Kristeller, Paul Oskar, 1905-1999.--Iter
|Latin language, Medieval and modern--Study and
|Latin literature, Medieval and
|Medieval Academy of America.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|National Endowment for the Humanities.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Pomponazzi, Pietro, 1462-1525.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
|Renaissance Society of America.||Portal||CLIO||ArchiveGRID|
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History / Biographical Note
Paul Oskar Kristeller, the Frederick Woodbridge Professor
Emeritus of Philosophy, was a major scholar of Renaissance philosophy and Renaissance
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
, 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.
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