Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections



Phyllis Walter Goodhart Gordan Papers (1913-1994)

Part I: Description

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library
Collection Number: M46

Copyright 2007 by Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library
Last Updated: November 18, 2013

Phyllis Gordan





Total Boxes: 22
Linear Feet: 42

Administrative Information


Bequest of the estate of Phyllis Gordan.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Phyllis Walter Goodhart Gordan Papers are the physical property of the Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Cite as:

Phyllis Walter Goodhart Gordan Papers, Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.


Phyllis Walter Goodhart Gordan (1913-1994)


Born in New York City in 1913 of a distinguished New York family, Phyllis Walter Goodhart attended the Brearley School. She then entered Bryn Mawr College, graduating in 1935 with a major in Latin, and continued her studies at Radcliffe from 1935-38, receiving a M.A. in Latin, Greek, and paleography.

While at Bryn Mawr, she developed a life-long interest in the works of the Italian humanists, especially that of Poggius Bracciolini. She was to spend some forty years editing, translating, and annotating the letters of Poggius to Nicolaus de Niccolis, an effort which culminated in the 1974 publication by Columbia University Press of her book Two Renaissance Book Hunters. In addition to her scholarly work, Mrs. Gordan served on numerous boards of mostly learned institutions: she served as a Trustee of the American Academy of Rome, the American Philological Association, the Brearley School, Bryn Mawr College, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Medieval Academy of America, the New York Public Library, the New York Society Library, and the Renaissance Society of America.

Mrs. Gordan died in 1994.


Description of the Collection

Mrs. Gordan's extensive scholarly papers reflect her many years of careful study of Italian humanism. Over the years she had acquired a notable collection of published and unpublished research materials from which she generated her meticulous notes on literally hundreds of medieval and Renaissance scholars and events. These notes, for the most part, are contained in many dozens of black loose-leaf binders, many written in her own hand and then subsequently typed. The researcher should note that considerable duplication occurs because of this.

The bulk of this collection is made up of bibliographic and biographic notes on Renaissance leaders, scholars, and ecclesiastics (Boxes 1-5, 12-13). In addition to this core of information, the collection contains several items of special interest to the scholar: a catalogue of humanist manuscripts in European libraries, notes on Ernst Walser's archive of research materials, and a concordance for the numeration of Poggius' letters to Nicolaus de Niccolis in the editions of Gordan, Tonelli, Wilmanns, and Rüegg (unpublished). All of these items are found in Box 6 (handwritten) and Box 12 (typed). The extensive collection of microfilms contains excerpts from more than five-hundred manuscripts, as well as a film of Rüegg's critical text of Poggius' letters to Nicolaus.

Several challenges to the scholar attempting to use this collection should be noted. First and foremost, researchers should be aware of the extensive duplication mentioned above; this often results in two, three, or more copies of any individual page of notes or translation, which are almost never precisely identical. Second, this catalogue includes the names of individual personalities on which Mrs. Gordan took notes in the form given on the first page of notes pertaining to that individual, whether in the Italian (or other vernacular) form, in Latin, or by another title. Third, although Mrs. Gordan's notes are generally arranged alphabetically, her system of alphabetizing is sometimes based on the individual's first name, sometimes on his family name, or occasionally even on his title (e.g. John Kemp under "C" for "Archbishop of Canterbury"); it also sometimes appears to be based on the individual's name in Latin even when the name is given in the vernacular form in the notes (e.g. "Giovanni" filed under "I" for "Ioannes"). Fourth and finally, although the catalogue lists all the individuals included in the notebooks, the quantity of notes for each may vary widely, from a single line to several hundred pages; this has been indicated in the catalogue where possible.


Part II: Box and Folder List

Processing and description by Celia E. Schultz and Matthew C. Farmer.



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Last Update: November 18, 2013 Special Collections at