Understanding both the history of the discipline you are interested in and understanding the cultural, political, and social era of the particular text you are studying depends on reading and knowing history. History’s major activity is to gather evidence regarding the past, evaluate that evidence within the temporal scope of the period under study, and then access how that evidence contributes to our understanding of that period.
Historical research relies on a wide variety of sources, primary and secondary and oral tradition.
Are scholarly interpretations and critiques of the historical period of interest that you are studying. In the study of modern history the difference between primary and secondary sources are usually clear. In ancient and medieval history this distinction is not so clear.
The Gomperz Library of Philosophy, formed in Vienna by the philosopher-scholars Theodor and Heinrich Gomperz during the latter part of the 19th century and first part of the 20th, was widely regarded as the finest of its kind in private hands. Shortly before World War II, with the support of the Mudd Foundation, the University purchased a major part of the collection, including some 3,500 volumes of original and early editions of European philosophy from about 1700 to 1850.
Here may be found not only the earliest collected editions of the leading philosophers of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and the encyclopoedias from Moreri through Bayle and Chauffepié to the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des arts et des métieres, but also such individual works as Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, and Wealth of Nations, 1776; Condillac’s Traité des sensations (1754); Helvétius’ De l’esprit(1758); and Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740) -- the latter with marginal corrections in the hand of the author. Here too are all but one (The Inaugural Dissertation, 1770) of the books of Immanuel Kant in first edition, including his three great Critiques and Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels (1754); as well as all, or virtually all, of the works of the prolific Fichte, Schelling, Wolf and Schopenhauer in their original forms. A group of books by the early mechanist Julien Offray de la Mettrie, most of them rare and some extremely rare, provides introduction to the troubled world of modern materialism.
The Gomperz Collection is housed in Special Collections.
To learn more about our Gomperz Collection for research and instructional services please contact me via my contact information located on the far right of this page or Special Collections.
You may also contact:
Claude Zachary, University Archivist and Manuscript Librarian
(213) 740 2587
Heinrich Gomperz was the son of Theodore Gomperz, the famous historian of Greek philosophy. Heinrich was connected to the logical positivists in Vienna before the 'Anschluss'. He came to USC right after the Nazi take over of Austria. Both he and his father had been rare book collectors.
Source: Public Art in LA by Ruth Wallach, http://www.publicartinla.com/USCArt/Hoose/gomperz.html
Source: A&E History Channel, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hitler-announces-an-anschluss-with-austria
Excerpt from thesis:
"In 1938, the property of all Viennese Jews was
confiscated by the government. This of course included
the Gomperz Library, Before the confiscation could be
effected, however, two important steps were taken to keep
the library from the Nazis. (1) Five to six thousand
volumes were given away or sold in Vienna. None of these
were philosophical works. Subject matter included German
literature, Austrian and Viennese history, European art,
psychoanalysis and medicine, and music (including the
scores of many classical compositions). Maria Zohrer,
Gomperz' one-time secretary,,arranged for the books to be
spirited away to the basement of a building a few blocks
away• This was done none too soon. Hitler had been
informed of the fabulous Gomperz library, and had
decided that he wanted the collection for himself. During
the war, the building containing the books was bombed.
But the books, packed in 85 crates taking up as much space
as a three-story building, were unharmed. When news of the
confiscation had reached Gomperz, he signed over the library
to the University of Southern California. The university, in turn,
spoke to the State Department. The U.S. ambassador in Vienna
warned the Nazis not to seize the library, which was now American
property. After the war, the Mayor of Vienna (who had
known the secret hiding place) revealed the hiding place
of the books to the U.S. Army. The University, when
notified, stated that Gomperz’ signing of the books over
to it was merely a "gentlemen's agreement" to protect the
collection, valued at more than $40,000. So, in 1948, the
university purchased 8363 bound volumes and more than
1000 pamphlets. These materials, plus the 3200 purchased
in 1937^ constitute the University of Southern California's
famous "Gomperz Collection.'" (pgs 9-10)