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Elisabeth Koffka Papers

Identifier: LU-MS-199
This collection contains papers documenting the teaching and creative writing of Elisabeth Koffka, professor of history at Lawrence University from 1961 to 1971. The bulk of the collection consists of writings, both poetry and prose, in English and German, written by Koffka dating from the 1930s to the 1990s. Materials from her time at Smith College, including study abroad photos, student papers and exams, class lists, list of courses taught, and reading/reserve lists, are included. Materials documenting her teaching of Freshman Studies, German, and history at Lawrence include lecture notes and quotations, speeches, and student examinations. Professor Koffka's personal materials, include identification documents, memorabilia, correspondence, and family photographs. Audio cassette tapes and that document personal history, and their transcripts, as well as a series of recorded lecturese are found in this collection as well. Materials date from 1918 to 1994.


  • 1900-1994
  • Majority of material found within [1924-1976]


Conditions Governing Access

Student papers and other materials reflecting individual students' academic work are closed for 75 years beyond the date of creation, the last of which is 2045. Items containing personal identifying information are closed until 2044. Sealed personal materials are closed. The remainder of the collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Lawrence University does not hold the copyright for all materials in this collection. Uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) require the researcher to secure permission from the copyright holder.


13.5 Linear Feet (11 boxes)


The Elisabeth Koffka Papers is a collection of materials from History Professor Elisabeth Koffka, which ranges from 1918 to 1994. The materials within this collection include her poetry, prose, published works, personal documents, reflections, correspondence, lecture notes, student papers and exams, and other materials from Professor Koffka's time and Smith College and Lawrence University. The collection is also home to audio tapes recounting personal history.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. Elisabeth Ahlgrimm Koffka, Lawrence professor of history and later, professor of history emerita, specialized in European intellectual history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During her tenure at Lawrence University, from 1961-1971 she also and taught western civilization and Freshman Studies. The German native made her way to Appleton under the auspices of a New York Foundation Visiting Professorship from the John Hay Whitney Foundation. She came after teaching for thirty-two years (1929-1961) at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She and her husband, Dr. Kurt Koffka, came to America in 1928 after leaving the University of Giessen, Germany, where Koffka received her Ph.D. Both taught at Smith College. Mr. Koffka died in 1941. Elisabeth Koffka died on April 15, 1994, at the age of 97. [Adapted from memorial printed in Lawrence Today, fall 1994]


This collection is organized into 5 series. Series 1: Elisabeth Koffka's writings. Series 2: Smith College teaching materials. Series 3: Lawrence University teaching materials. Series 4: Personal materials. Series 5: Audio cassettes and related transcripts. Most of contents within the boxes in this collection are organized in chronological order.

Method of Acquisition

Acquired prior to July 2005. The exact date, source, and method of acquisition are unknown.

Processing Information

Minimally processed by Erin Dix, 2016. Fully processed by Macy Veto and Lina Rosenberg Foley, 2021.
Elisabeth Koffka Papers Finding Aid
Macy Veto and Lina Rosenberg Foley
2021 July 30
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
Elisabeth Koffka Papers Finding Aid, Second Edition

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

Seeley G. Mudd Library
113 South Lawe Street
Appleton WI 54911 US
(920) 832-6753