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Table of Contents
Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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Series I: Cataloged Material
Series II: Arranged Material
Series III: Printed Material
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 4 series.
Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, photographs, art work, audio cassette, printed materials by and about Thomas Merton. The correspondence covers the years from his study at Columbia to his death in Bangkok. Among the cataloged correspondence are: Daniel Berrigan, Mark Van Doren, Luis Somoza, Jacque Maritain, Aldous Huxley, James Laughlin, Robert Lax, Grover Cleveland Smith, John Howard Griffin, William Henry Shannon and Victoria Ocampo. The extensive manuscript collection was assembled primarily by Sister Thérèse Lentfoehr, Mark Van Doren, and Robert Shepherd. Among the more significant manuscripts are: corrected typescript of THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN; fragments of his NOVITIATE JOURNAL; notebooks and journals used in THE SIGN OF JONAS; numerous draft of poems; most of his lecture and conference notes which he used while serving as master of scholastics and, later, master of novices. There is an extensive collection of mimeographed articles, many inscribed to Sister Thérèse Lentfoehr; four watercolors by his father, Owen Merton, and many humorous and devotional drawings by Merton; many photographs of Merton, as well as photographs taken by Merton. There is an audio cassette of the radio play by Bruce Stewart entitled ME AND MY SHADOW, produced by the BBC in 1989. The printed material consists of numerous clippings and some offprints, pamphlets, and books
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
The following boxes are located off-site: 21-43. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Permission to quote or publish must be obtained from Thomas Merton's literary executor, James Laughlin, New Directions Publishing Corp., 80 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011. This permission is required for Ph.D. dissertations if they are microfilmed by University Microfilms or published in hard copy.
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
The RBML cannot provide access to original time-based media material which has not been first been reformatted for preservation. Researchers are welcome to examine archival time-based media items and decide whether they wish to place an order for Audio/Video reformatting. If copyright and/or condition restrictions apply, it may not be possible to digitize a requested item. Please note that A/V reformatting is handled by an outside vendor and typically takes 6-8 weeks.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Thomas Merton papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
See Also the Mark VAN DOREN collection
Ownership and Custodial History
Purchase, 1982, 1988.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Merton, Thomas. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1964. Accession number--M-64.
10,200 items: Source of acquisition--Merton Center. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--07/01/88. Accession number--M-88-07-01.
Sr.Therese addition: Source of acquisition--7/15/2011. Accession number--2011.2012.M006.
Gift of Thomas Merton, 1964.
Publications About Described Materials
THOMAS MERTON: THE POET AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE [an exhibition catalog]. New York: Columbia University Libraries, 1990.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Processed Christina Hilton Fenn 1964.
10,200 items Processed 04/18/90.
Processed by Patrick Lawlor, 1990 Series IV added by Patrick Lawlor."
2010-02-16 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.
2013-08-5 FA revised by PTL
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Thomas Merton (Father Louis), M.A. Columbia 1939, was a widely read Catholic author and social critic who lived as a member of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, the Trappists, from 1941 till his death in Bangkok in 1968.