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Thomas Moore Johnson Collection of Philosophy


Thomas Moore Johnson (1851-1919) was an attorney, collector, and student of philosophy in Osceola, Missouri. Though his formal training in philosophy was sparse, his consummate philosophical interests led him to become a foremost lay authority on Plato and the Neoplatonists. He established two journals devoted to Platonic philosophy The Platonist and Bibliotheca Platonica, and translated Neoplatonist works such as Iamblichus’ Exhortation to the Study of Philosophy (1907), Proclus’ Metaphysical Elements (1909) and Opuscula Platonia (1908).

Johnson began collecting Greek texts while a student at the University of Notre Dame and his library eventually grew to about 8,000 volumes. A portion of his library was presented to the University of Missouri-Columbia Libraries in 1947 by his son, Franklin P. Johnson.

Scope and Contents

“The collection spans the centuries from the ancient Greeks to the nineteenth century philosophers, but the emphasis is on the classical authors, augmented by modern philosophy and criticism. The medieval Christian philosophers are also represented. Since the collector was a Platonist, it is expected that the collection of works of Plato and the critical works would be large.” (The Thomas Moore Johnson Collection, page 3).

The oldest imprint is 1494 and there are several hundred volumes with publication dates from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

Holdings: 1,793 titles


Most titles are cataloged and available through MERLIN, the University’s online catalog. The collection can be searched in MERLIN through the heading Thomas Moore Johnson Collection of Philosophy (University of Missouri–Columbia. Libraries).

A guide to the collection, The Thomas Moore Johnson Collection, Columbia, University of Missouri, 1949 is available. The collection does not circulate. Scans are permitted subject to the condition of the volumes. The collection must be used in Special Collections’ Reading Room during service hours or by appointment.