Kurt Wolff Papers

Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections Department, Brandeis University Libraries

c. 2005 By Brandeis University Libraries, all rights reserved

Table of Contents

Administrative Information
Scope and Content
Series Description
Container List

Creator: Kurt Wolff
Title: Papers, 1952-2003?, n.d.
Quantity: 1 cu. ft. (1 record center box)
Repository: Brandeis University Libraries
Identification: MWalB0214A
Language: English

Administrative Information


Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of Brandeis University Libraries, Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections Department.


Requests to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections Department.

Processed by:

University Archives Staff

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Kurt Wolff Papers, Robert D. Farber University Archives, Brandeis University

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Kurt Wolff was a member of the Brandeis Sociology faculty from 1959 until his retirement in 1982. Upon retirement, Professor Wolff remained active as emeritus faculty until 1992, during which time he continued to publish and teach undergraduate and graduate level courses in sociology.

Professor Wolff studied under Karl Mannheim at the University of Frankfurt in Germany during the early 1930s. His studies in Germany were interrupted by the Nazis' rise to power, which compelled him to move to Italy. He obtained his Ph.D. in the sociology of knowledge from the University of Florence in 1935. Four years later, anti-Semitic laws forced Professor Wolff to leave Italy. In 1939 he relocated to the United States where he began his lifelong commitment to teaching and research in sociology.

Prior to his appointment at Brandeis, Professor Wolff was an Associate Professor at Ohio State University for fourteen years. He left Ohio State in 1959 to join the Brandeis sociology faculty as professor and department chair. He was instrumental in organizing the doctoral program in sociology which was established at Brandeis in 1961. His areas of expertise include the sociology of knowledge and phenomenological sociology. Professor Wolff taught numerous courses while at Brandeis, including The Sociology of Knowledge, Phenomenology and Sociology, Surrender and Catch: Experience and Inquiry Today, and Themes in Sociological Theory.

During his tenure at Brandeis, Professor Wolff served on the Faculty Senate and was appointed the Manuel Yellen Professor of Social Relations in 1977. He was also elected as President of the International Society for the Sociology of Knowledge in 1972 and President of the American Sociological Association in 1977. He was awarded two Fulbright Senior Lectureships to Italy and Australia in 1963 and 1980, respectively. He lectured at universities throughout the United States and Europe, helping to make Brandeis better known and appreciated by colleagues and students worldwide.

A prolific writer, Professor Wolff authored, edited and translated numerous articles, books and reviews in professional publications. Many of his works were published in French, German and Italian. His publications include Survival and Sociology:Vindicating the Human Subject (1991) (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers), Beyond the Sociology of Knowledge: An Introduction and a Development (1983) (Lanham: MD: University Press of America), Surrender and Catch: Experience and Inquiry Today (1976) (Reidel Press), and O Loma! Constituting a Self 1977-1984 (1989) (Northhampton, MA: Hermes House Press) which includes pencil drawings by Professor Wolff.

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Scope and Content

The files in this collection were created from 1959 through 1997. They include correspondence, memos, newspaper clippings, departmental newsletters, faculty biographies, course materials, typescripts, bibliographies, and publication lists. There is considerable amount of correspondence, including letters between Professor Wolff and Professor Morrie Schwartz, Dean Peter Diamandopoulos, Dean Lawrence Fuchs, and President Abram Sachar. This correspondence provides some insight into the mission and development of the Sociology Department from 1958 to 1997.

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Series Description

Sociology Department Files
Inclusive Dates: 1959-1997
Box 1
Arrangement: Alphabetical
The series contains correspondence, memos, departmental newsletters, faculty biographies, teaching schedules, faculty committee and other professional activity reports. The correspondence give some indication of the mission and development of the sociology department from 1959 through 1997. The series contains a substantial number of correspondence about departmental activities and university budgetary constraints that impacted the department over the years. Correspondence also includes memos and letters written by Professors Wolff, Herbert Marcuse, Lewis Coser, Everett Hughs, Maurie Stein, Gordon Fellman and Irving Zola. A substantial amount of material on Brandeis sociology Professor Morrie Schwartz exists, including letters about early departmental activities and newspaper clippings about Professor Schwartz and his battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Other correspondence include letters written by British sociologist Ralph Miliband, a Brandeis sociology faculty member until 1986.
University Files
Inclusive Dates: 1952-1993
Box 1
Arrangement: Alphabetical
The series contains Brandeis Administration correspondence, memos, academic/instructional activity reports, faculty senate reports, newsletters and newspaper clippings about Brandeis. Administration correspondence include employment package and salary negotiation letters, sabbatical leave requests, requests for travel and research funds, faculty budget and salary adjustment memos, Brandeis newsletters, commencement ceremony programs and minutes. A substantial amount of correspondence exists between Professor Wolff and Dean Peter Diamandopoulos, Dean Lawrence Fuchs and President Abram Sachar regarding salary and employment matters. Other material pertains to his move from Ohio State University to Brandeis. The series also contains newspaper clippings on the student occupation of Ford Hall in 1969 and correspondence, newspaper clippings, faculty senate reports and recommendations on Brandeis anthropology Professor Kathleen Gough Aberle who resigned in 1963 over academic freedom issues.
Professional Activities
Inclusive Dates: 1959-1992, n.d.
Box 1
Arrangement: Chronological
The series contains correspondence, memos, publication lists, biographical sketches, bibliographies, acknowledgment letters for contributions to scholarship funds, charity and memorial funds. Substantial correspondence include professional activity submissions to the Brandeis public affairs office. Other materials include copies of journal articles and typescripts.
Personal Files
Inclusive Dates: 1972-1988, 2003?
Box 1
Arrangement: Alphabetical
The series contains personal correspondence, thank-you cards, and two color photographs of Wolff as an older man. Some correspondence is written in German.
Course Materials
Inclusive Dates: 1959-1993, n.d.
Box 2
Arrangement: By course number
The series contains materials relating to Brandeis courses that Professor Wolff taught on topics such as the sociology of knowledge, phenomenological sociology, and the history of ideas. Materials include correspondence with publishing companies, handwritten course outlines, bibliographies, and course exam questions. This series also includes correspondence with Talcott Parsons, a noted Harvard sociology professor.

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Container List

Sociology Department Files
box 1 General files, 1959-1997 [5 folders]
box 1 General files, 1960-1997 [R]
box 1 Miliband, Ralph, 1981-1995
box 1 Schwartz, Morrie, 1962-1996
box 1 Schwartz, Morrie, 1962-1996 [R]
box 1 Student correspondence, 1971-1991 [R]
box 1 Student materials, 1976, 1979
University Files
box 1 Brandeis Center for the Humanities, 1987
box 1 Colleague File, 1959-1991
box 1 Coming to Brandeis, 1952-1959
box 1 Coming to Brandeis, 1952-1959 [R]
box 1 Ford Hall, 1969
box 1 General files, 1959-1979 [3 folders]
box 1 General files, 1960-1979 [R]
box 1 General files, 1980-1993 [2 folders]
box 1 General files, 1980-1993 [R]
box 1 Gough, Kathleen, 1963
box 1 History of Ideas Department, 1971-1981
box 1 News clippings about Brandeis, 1974-1983
box 1 Parents Weekend Speech, 1960
Professional Activities
box 1 Brandeis Public Affairs Office Submissions, 1959-1992
box 1 Publication Lists, Biographical Sketches, Abstract Titles, 1959-1990
box 1 Surrender As A Response to Our Crisis, 1962
box 1 Contributions, 1965-1990
box 1 Contributions, 1965-1990 [R]
box 1 Correspondence to the Justice (Brandeis Student Newspaper), 1962, 1979
box 1 A Reading of Karl Mannheim, n.d.
box 1 Surrender and Catch, Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, Critical Theory, n.d.
box 1 General Correspondence, 1968
box 1 Personal Correspondence, 1972-1988
box 1 Photographs of Kurt Wolff, 2003? [2 color photos]
Course Materials
box 1 Sociology 228a, 1966-1991[6 folders]
box 1 Sociology 228b, materials and minutes 1966
box 1 Sociology 212a, n.d.
box 1 Sociology 2a, 1961, 1973
box 1 Sociology 202a, n.d.
box 1 Sociology 109b, n.d.
box 1 Sociology 216b, 1983
box 1 Sociology 110a, 1993
box 1 Sociology 133a, 1992
box 1 Sociology 218a, 1986
box 1 Sociology 110b, 1959-1990 [2 folders]
box 1 Sociology 204, 1969-1976 [2 folders]
box 1 Sociology 218b, 1970-1978

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