Stephan Kuttner, the historian of canon law, gave the Wimmer Memorial Lecture at Saint Vincent in 1956. His talk, Harmony From Dissonance: An Interpretation of Medieval Canon Law, was published four years later. At the time of his lecture, and certainly at the time of his death, on August 12, 1996, in Berkeley, he was internationally recognized as one of the world’s greatest authorities on canon and civil law. Kuttner, a native of Bonn, Germany, received his law degree from Berlin University in 1931. He worked as a research fellow at the Vatican Library and taught at the Lateran University in Rome after fleeing Nazi Germany for Italy. He was a professor at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., which has a chair named in his honor. He held the T. Lawrason Riggs Chair of Catholic Studies at Yale, then became the first director of the Robbins Collection in Roman and Canon Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He taught there for 18 years (1970-1988), and continued as professor emeritus until his death.
The Institute of Research and Study in Medieval Canon Law was established in Washington, D.C. Its headquarters were transferred to Yale in 1964, and later to Berkeley in 1970. The Institute was relocated to the University of Munich in 1991. Yale now hosts the Kuttner Institute Library. The Institute was named after Kuttner in 1996, who served as the its board president from 1955 to 1991; as chairman of the board from 1991 until 1996; and as editor, then editor emeritus of the Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law and as chief editor of the Monumenta Iuris Canonici.