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Frederick Sontag Papers

Identifier: PC-0005

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection includes correspondence, articles and book reviews written by Sontag, teaching and course materials, transcribed sermons and lectures, research materials, and collected reviews for his book “Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church.” Notable items include a large selection of Sontag’s articles and book reviews written over a five-decade period, 1952 to 2002, as well as his personal research notes for select articles and publications. The collection also contains Sontag’s teaching materials related to his philosophy courses at Pomona College and materials related to Greek life on campus.


  • Creation: 1944-2008


Language of Materials

Languages represented in collection: English.


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to the Archives.

Biography / Administrative History

Frederick Sontag was an author and long-time professor of philosophy at Pomona College, where he taught from 1952 to 2009. Sontag was born on October 2, 1924 in Long Beach, California. His father was a Jewish immigrant who escaped the pogroms in Russia and settled in California in the early 1900s, where he became a follower of the Baptist faith. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Sontag attended Stanford University where he developed an interest in philosophy. He graduated from Stanford in 1949 and went on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale University in 1951 and 1952, respectively. In 1952, Frederick Sontag joined the Pomona College faculty as an assistant professor in philosophy.

During his tenure at Pomona College, Sontag served as chair of the Philosophy Department twice, from 1960 to 1967 and 1976 to 1977, and chair of the Committee on Honors Study, from 1961 to 1970. Sontag also served as a visiting professor for a number of institutions, including Union Theological Seminary, the Pontifical University of San Anselmo in Rome, University of Copenhagen, University of Kyoto, and the East-West Center in Honolulu. In addition to teaching, Sontag was a prolific author and wrote on a wide range of topics including existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, trends in American religious culture, and on notable figures like Danish philosopher-theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church. Frederick Sontag was also an ordained minister in United Church of Christ. While he never held a pastorate, Sontag served as a mentor and counselor to many students.

In 1997, Pomona College renamed its renovated outdoor theater the “Sontag Greek Theatre” in Frederick Sontag’s honor. Sontag also received the Pomona College Trustees’ Medal of Merit upon his retirement in May 2009. Sadly, Frederick Sontag passed away shortly after retirement on June 14, 2009. Both Sontag Residence Hall and the Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (The Hive) continue to honor the late professor’s legacy; both named for Sontag posthumously in his honor.


13.6 Linear Feet (12 record cartons, 4 document boxes)


This collection contains the papers of Frederick Sontag, Pomona College professor of philosophy, author, and minister in the United Church of Christ. Over his five-decade career at Pomona College, Sontag served as Philosophy Department Chair and as a visiting professor for a number of theological institutions. He authored numerous publications and articles, his most well-known being “Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church” (1977). The collection includes correspondence, articles, book reviews, teaching materials, sermons, lectures, and research materials.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is organized into the following five series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1952-2007 and undated Series 2: Articles and Book Reviews, 1952-2002 and undated Series 3: Pomona College, 1944-2008 and undated Series 4: Sermons and Lectures, 1970-2001 and undated Series 5: Manuscripts and Research, 1977-1996 and undated

The collection is arranged at the file level. Items in Series 1 are arranged alphabetically. Items in the remaining series are arranged chronologically.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Sontag Family, 2011.


Additions to the collection are not anticipated.

Processing Information

Processed and arranged by Jamie Weber.

Frederick Sontag Papers
Jamie Weber and Sean Stanley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the 06 - Pomona College Archives Repository

Special Collections, The Claremont Colleges Library
800 N. Dartmouth Avenue
Claremont CA 91711