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Kurt Wolff papers

Identifier: 03-MWalB00214A

Scope and Contents

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.


  • 1952- circa 2003, undated


Conditions Governing Access

Some material is restricted [R]; please consult the University Archivist. Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.  Please contact the department for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to reproduce or publish material from the collection should be directed to the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandies University.

Biographical or Historical Information

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.


1.00 Linear Feet

1 record center box other_unmapped

Language of Materials



Arranged in five series: 1. Sociology Department Files, 1959-1997; 2. University Files, 1952-1993; 3. Professional Activities, 1959-1992, undated; 4. Personal Files, 1972-1988, circa 2003; 5. Course Materials, 1959-1993, undated. Within series 1, 2, and 4, the materials have been organized alphabetically.  Within series 3, the materials have been organized chronologically.  Within series 5, the materials have been organized by course number. For more information about each series, please consult the series descriptions in the box and folder listing.

Other Descriptive Information

Addenda to this collection may not be listed in the finding aid, but may be available for research use. Please contact us for more information.

Zachary Albert
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Brandeis University Repository

415 South St.
Waltham MA

About Us

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department at Brandeis University consists of two collecting units, the University Archives and Special Collections. University Archives documents the history and development of Brandeis University and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Special Collections features a broad array of unique primary source materials across a wide range of disciplines that support research, teaching and learning at Brandeis. Learn more about our collections