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Robert K. Merton papers, 1928-2003, bulk 1943-2001

Summary Information

Abstract

The Robert K. Merton papers document the noted sociologist's career as a student, professor, writer, and researcher. Merton's numerous and varied academic and professional affiliations, activities, and accomplishments are reflected in correspondence, memoranda, drafts, clippings, and notes.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1439
Bib ID 6911309 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Merton, Robert King, 1910-2003
Title Robert K. Merton papers, 1928-2003, bulk 1943-2001
Physical Description 220 linear feet (475 manuscript boxes, 1 small manuscript box, 1 flat box, 1 small flat box, 11 index card boxes, 18 large index card boxes, 1 record carton)
Language(s) Material in is English.
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Various folders throughout the collection may contain restrictions, which are noted in the contents list.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library does not currently have the capacity to allow patrons access to audio cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, film, analog records, and videotapes. If you need access to this type of material, please contact Access Services to discuss the possibility of reproduction or reformatting.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in eight series: Series I: Administrative, 1945-2002; Series II: Correspondence, 1930-2003 Subseries II.1: Alphabetical, 1930-2003; Subseries II.2: Recommendations, 1936-2001; Subseries II.3: With Students, 1942-2001; Series III: Course Materials, 1928-1998 Subseries III.1: Courses Attended and Student Activities, 1928-1939; Subseries III.2: Courses Taught at Columbia University, 1941-1987; Subseries III.3: Courses Taught at Other Institutions, 1934-1998; Subseries III.4: Notes and Research, 1930-1990; Series IV: Professional Career, 1933-2003 Subseries IV.1: Activities, 1933-2003; Subseries IV.2: Affiliations, 1943-2001; Subseries IV.3: Awards and Honors, 1959-1999; Subseries IV.4: Columbia University, 1940-2001; Series V: Reference and Research, 1933-2002; Series VI: Studies and Projects, 1935-1997; Series VII: Writings, 1931-2002 Subseries VII.1: About, 1947-2002; Subseries VII.2: Articles by, 1931-2002; Subseries VII.3: Books by, 1933-2002; Subseries VII.4: Edits for Others, 1942-1999; Subseries VII.5: Translations, Compilations, Forwards and Introductions by, 1959-1999; Series VIII: Audio Tapes, 1968-1972

Description

Scope and Content

The papers of noted sociologist Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) span his professional and academic career, beginning with his formative years as a student in the early 1930s and documenting his notable contributions in the field of sociology through the mid-to-late twentieth century. The papers as a whole portray the many facets of Merton's lengthy career including writings and studies, public and classroom lectures, research, and professional affiliations. Included are extensive course lecture notes, edits and drafts of published and unpublished writings, and items related to Merton's early work with Paul F. Lazarsfeld at the Bureau of Applied Social Research. Incoming and outgoing correspondence comprises a large portion of the collection. These letters, with key sociologists, authors, publishers, and prominent figures in a range of disciplines, detail the formation of many of Merton's original ideas and concepts, in addition to covering Merton's numerous academic and scholarly endeavors. Merton's varied interests and broad achievements are reflected in correspondence, notes, drafts, memoranda, and clippings. Merton meticulously organized his material and the arrangement presented here closely follows the original order.

The collection consists of three groups of material that were stored in different locations and processed separately. Boxes #1-352 contain material previously stored in Merton's office in Fayerweather Hall at Columbia University. Boxes #353-433 include items from Merton's residence in Manhattan. Boxes #434 -507 contain items removed from the home of Merton in East Hampton, New York. The container lists reflect these three groupings in distinct sections. Under each subseries, boxes will be listed alphabetically by each group, so that the alphabetical sequence will repeat itself three times, one for each group.

  • Series I: Administrative

    Material in this series consists of general administrative records related to Merton's work, such as curriculum vitae, bibliographies, and agendas. Correspondents in this series include several office assistants who played instrumental roles in keeping Merton's administrative operations well organized. Of note are the address book and rolodex of personal and professional contacts which reflect the varied associations Merton kept with individuals and organizations throughout his career. The series also contains photographic portraits of Merton from various time periods. The records are arranged alphabetically.

  • Series II: Correspondence

    This series, the largest in the collection, contains incoming and outgoing letters chronicling Robert K. Merton's professional career. The correspondence explores prevalent issues and trends in the field of Sociology throughout the second half of the twentieth century, as well as notable sociological events and organizations. Correspondents include students, colleagues in the field of Sociology, both at Columbia University and other academic and social institutions, and individuals in a variety of scholarly fields, particularly Philosophy, English, Anthropology, Mathematics, and Science. Merton's collaborative ties with publishers, co-authors, editors, professors, and foundation and committee affiliates are well documented here. Material covers Merton's involvement in public events, lectures, conferences, writings, projects, studies, teaching, and editorial duties. The series also reflects the atmosphere at Columbia University and the Department of Sociology during Merton's tenure.

    Maintaining the original order established by Merton, the series is divided into three subseries: Alphabetical; Recommendations; and With Students. Additional correspondence pertaining to Merton's affiliation with various professional organizations is available in Series IV.2. Correspondence specifically related to Merton's writings can be found in Series 5.

  • Series III: Course Materials, 1928-1998

    Course materials document Robert K. Merton's academic pursuits, from his studies as an undergraduate student at Temple University, to his longtime Professorship with Columbia University's Sociology Department. In addition to providing an overview of Merton's teaching career, the records also trace Merton's early academic influences and activities. As an undergraduate at Temple University, Merton studied under George Simpson and later became his research assistant. While attending Harvard University, Merton was largely influenced by Pitirim Sorokin and Talcott Parsons. With Parson's encouragement, Merton undertook the role of both tutor and instructor with Harvard University's Sociology Department. Merton also found inspiration from E.F. Gay, who helped develop his interested in science and technology. This series underscores the significance of these early mentors and depicts Merton's subsequent scholastic activities, including teaching at various institutions and research endeavors. Series III is divided into four subseries that reflect the stages of Merton's academic career.

  • Series IV: Professional Career

    This series profiles Merton's activities and affiliations throughout his extensive professional career. Material pertains to professional events and activities, such as conferences and public lectures, associations with various organizations, honors and awards bestowed upon Merton, and Merton's faculty involvement with Columbia University. The series is composed of four subseries: Activities; Affiliations; Awards and Honors; and Columbia University.

  • Series V: Reference and Research

    Robert K. Merton was an avid reader and researcher and items in this series reflect his intellectual curiosity regarding a wide variety of subjects over the course of his professional career. The series contains both reference material and subject files. Reference material includes items consulted by Merton, such as annotated articles, an indexed card catalog of his personal library, and assorted reading notes. The card catalog is arranged alphabetically and cross-indexed by both author and title. Included in this series are Merton's memory books. These books contain notes drafted by Merton in response to various articles and include a table of contents noting article titles and authors. Reference material also consists of a folder labeled: photo album. This folder contains newspaper and magazine clippings of portraits of well-known figures, including authors such as William Faulkner and Willa Cather, leaders like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Abraham Lincoln, and noteworthy individuals such as Albert Einstein, Thorstein Veblen, H.G. Wells, and Karl Marx. These images illustrate Merton's varied influences and interests. Subject files contain articles, clippings, notes, and occasional correspondence. Many of the topics are related to familiar themes explored over the course of Merton's career, as well as some that were never fully realized in publication. In some cases, subject files relate specifically to terms and phrases coined by Merton. These files track usage of the terms and related correspondence. Extensive clippings related to the self-fulfilling prophecy, a concept Merton created, reflect a project of long-standing in which Merton analyzed the diffusion of the idea into a number of other fields.

    The series also includes extensive index cards arranged under the original order maintained by Merton and not alphabetized. These cards include items pertaining to early studies, projects, and themes. Interfiled with the index cards are clippings, notes, original thoughts and impressions, musings, and occasional correspondence. The items are largely undated and due to the volume, are not dated in the container list.

  • Series VI: Studies and Projects

    This series provides a framework for understanding key sociological studies and projects conducted by Merton in the mid-twentieth century. Project documentation includes analyses of publications, general surveys, and proposed project topics. Study materials, which comprise the bulk of the series, cover Merton's early sociological pursuits, mainly while he was involved with the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. Of note are original interviews, questionnaires, and journals of study participants, which provide an unfiltered look at American social thought and attitude regarding social and cultural issues, education, and careers. These are particularly evidenced in the Ethnic Opinionnaires completed in the 1940s. The records also reflect the evolution of Merton's studies into larger bodies of work, such as publications and conferences. This series is particularly important as it illuminates early social research methodology. A good portion of the records include notes, proposals for funding, drafts of questionnaires, and memoranda related to execution of studies. The studies were also used in Merton's courses and seminars at Columbia University as a means of teaching sociology students about research practices.

    Major studies reflected in Series VI include the Housing study, the Manhattanville project, the Expert study, the study of Medical Education and the Eisenhower mail study. The Housing study analyzed a mixed race public housing community and Merton used these findings to examine social concepts, such as friendship, from a sociological perspective. Several publications derived from the study, most notably Patterns of Social Life: Explorations in the Sociology of Housing, are represented in the series. The Manhattanville project was conducted in the early 1950s and records consist of extensive interviews with members of the Manhattanville neighborhood in New York. These interviews were used to determine the community's occupational aspirations and success models. This study relied heavily on participant interviews and observation and detailed transcripts and field reports are contained here. The Expert study focused on several separate case studies to understand the utilization of social sciences and scientists in business and government. The study evolved into several published works, which are represented in the series. The Sociological Study of Medical Education records include interviews and journals from students in medical programs at Cornell, University of Pennsylvania and Western Reserve. Material also includes codebooks, correspondence, and memoranda related to the study. Of note is a folder titled: 'Analysis of Material for Concept Formation.' These are items from the study compiled by Merton many years later and examined for early usage of concepts and phrases, such as role model. Additional material regarding publications from this study are located in Subseries VII.3. The Eisenhower mail study was an attempt by Merton, Joan Goldhamer, and other Bureau of Applied Social Research affiliates to analyze approximately 20,000 letters, postcards and telegrams received by General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1948 urging him to become candidate for the presidency of the United States. Midway through the project, Eisenhower's team asked the Bureau to abandon the study, giving no explanation. In 1998 Joan Goldhamer published a follow up article entitled "General Eisenhower in academe: A clash of perspectives and a study suppressed." Contained in this series are unpublished documents related to the original mail study, including transcripts of a meeting between Merton and Eisenhower, memoranda, correspondence, and initial drafts. Items pertaining to the revival of the study include correspondence and Goldhamer's drafts containing Merton's edits.

    Series VI is arranged alphabetically by name of study or project

  • Series VII: Writings

    Series VII encompasses published and unpublished material written by and about Merton. This includes books, articles, collaborative projects, and editorial work. Records consist of drafts, edits, research, working papers, correspondence, notes, and outlines. Notes and research material provide particularly useful insight into Merton's thoughts and ideas on a wide variety of subjects. Various edits, drafts, and working copies reveal the development of Merton's written works from initial conception to publication. The series is organized into five subseries based on Merton's original arrangement: About; Articles by; Books by; Edits for Others; and Translations, Compilations, Forwards and Introductions by.

  • Series VIII: Audio Tapes (Reel-to-Reel)

    Twenty reel-to-reel audio tapes of Merton lectures. Also some Caplow and Linz.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Various folders throughout the collection may contain restrictions, which are noted in the contents list.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library does not currently have the capacity to allow patrons access to audio cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, film, analog records, and videotapes. If you need access to this type of material, please contact Access Services to discuss the possibility of reproduction or reformatting.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Robert K. Merton papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material-- At Columbia

Historical Biographical Files [18--?] - 2007. Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Merton's biographical file includes articles related to Merton and his work.

Accrual

Additions to the collection are expected. Processing of additional material to be completed by February 2010

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Lesley Espenship in 2008-2009.

Finding aid written by Lesley Espenship in July 2009.

Revision Description

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Blau, Peter M., 1918-2002 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, Calif.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cole, Jonathan R Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- : Faculty Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Bureau of Applied Social Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Coser, Lewis A., 1913-2003 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Coser, Rose Laub, 1916- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Davis, Kingsley, 1908-1997 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Elkana, Yahuda, 1934- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Garfield, Eugene Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gieryn, Thomas F Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Goode, William Josiah Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gouldner, Alvin Ward, 1920-1980 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hicks, Granville, 1901-1982 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kendall, Patricia L Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lazarsfeld, Paul F., 1901-1976 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lederberg, Joshua Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Montagu, Ashley, 1905-1999 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Paul F. Lazarsfeld Center for the Social Sciences Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Price, Derek J. de Solla (Derek John de Solla), 1922-1983 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rossi, Peter H (Peter Henry), 1921-2006 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russell Sage Foundation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Science -- Social aspects Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sica, Alan, 1949- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sills, David L Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Social sciences Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sociology Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sociology -- Fieldwork Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sociology -- Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sociology -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich, 1889-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Thackray, Arnold, 1939- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zeisel, Hans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Robert K. Merton was one of the most influential 20th-century sociologists. His work shaped the discipline for more than a half century. A prolific writer, editor, teacher, and scholar, Merton examined a broad variety of topics from a sociological perspective while developing concepts and theories aimed at linking particular phenomena to more general social patterns. Well known for identifying and analyzing self-fulfilling prophecies, unanticipated consequences, influentials, and role models, Merton significantly contributed to sociological thought through extensive writings, studies, lectures, and research projects. While most of Merton's career was spent at Columbia University, defining the Sociology Department and the Bureau of Applied Social Research, he was also affiliated with a wide range of professional and scholarly organizations.

Merton was born Meyer R. Schkolnick on July 4, 1910 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The second of two children, he was the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. From an early age, Merton spent countless hours at the local Carnegie library where he developed broad interests in literature; particularly biographies, science, and history. In his early teens Merton formed an interest in magic and wrote a high school paper on the magician Harry Houdini. In the course of his research, he discovered that performing artists often Americanized their names. Following suit, he chose Robert Merton as his stage name; Robert, derived from the French magician Robert Houdin (whom Harry Houdini took his last name), and Merton, a version of Merlin the wizard. The middle initial stands for King, but was always abbreviated by Merton. Encouraged by his brother-in-law, Charles Hopkins, he became a skilled magician, doing an array of magic tricks as well as sleight of hand.

Upon graduation from South Philadelphia High School, Robert K. Merton attended Temple University on a scholarship. While at Temple he encountered George E. Simpson, a young sociology instructor, who recruited Merton to be his research assistant. The assistantship, coupled with Simpson's lectures, sealed Merton's interest in the field of sociology.

Through Simpson, Merton met Pitirim Sorokin, founder of the Sociology Department at Harvard University. After receiving a B.A. from Temple in 1931, Merton attended Harvard, claiming Sorokin's deep interest in European sociology was his only reason for choosing the university at the time. In addition to Sorokin, he also cited Talcott Parsons, E.F. Gay, and George Sarton as strong influences on his development while at Harvard. Merton received his M.A. (1932) and his Ph.D. (1936) from Harvard and went on to become an instructor in the University's Sociology Department until 1939.

At Harvard University, Merton's experiences steered the course of his sociological pursuits. While serving as research assistant to Sorokin, Merton wrote his first published paper"Recent French Sociology" in 1934, which led him to the work of Emile Durkheim and formed the basis for what would become Merton's "own mode of structural and functional analysis." Merton's interest in science and technology grew as he attended a course taught by economic historian E.F. Gay, worked with Sorokin on a joint paper on "Arabian Intellectual Development" and encountered George Sarton, the father of the then nascent discipline, the history of science. Sarton greatly influenced Merton's scholarly development and their association, which Merton called an "unruly apprenticeship" lasted 25 years.

Merton's dissertation, on the reciprocal connections between science and society, focused specifically on the role Puritanism took in encouraging the rise of science and showed, counter to ideas prevalent at the time, that religion could stimulate and canalize rather than undermine scientific activity. His dissertation, Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth Century England, published in 1938, is widely viewed as the first work in the sociology of science and continues to stimulate research on the origins of modern science. Merton is considered to be the founder of this branch of sociology.

In 1939 Merton moved to New Orleans and became Associate Professor in Tulane University's Sociology Department, later becoming the department chair. In 1941 Merton accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Sociology Department at Columbia University, which would serve as his academic home for the next four decades.

At Columbia, Merton was a member of the Department of Sociology while concurrently serving as the Associate Director of the Bureau of Applied Social Research, a post he held from 1942-1971. From 1963-1974, he was the Giddings Professor of Sociology and from 1974-1979, he was named to a University Professorship. In 1979 he held the titles of both Special Service Professor and University Professor Emeritus. Merton officially retired from teaching in 1984, but maintained active ties with Columbia University. In 1990, Columbia established the R.K. Merton Professorship in the Social Sciences.

Sociology was a growing discipline during Merton's years at Columbia and much of his work influenced the development of the field. Among his most well-known contributions were his analysis of manifest and latent functions, theories of the middle range, social structure and anomie, bureaucratic structure and personality, the sociology of knowledge, including the varying perspectives of outsiders and insiders, and opportunity structures. He also examined a wide variety of subjects from a sociological perspective, including science, formal organizations, media, friendship, and deviant behavior and its sources. His interest in the sociology of science took a new turn in the late 1950s when he turned to studies of the allocation of recognition for scientific discoveries and the reward system of science, in which competition for priority plays a major role. In the decades which followed, he pursued his work on multiple independent discoveries, and their implications for the development of knowledge, priority, and the Matthew effect.

Merton's involvement with the Bureau of Applied Social Research spanned nearly 30 years. The Bureau was established a year before Merton arrived at Columbia, with Paul F. Lazarsfeld at the helm. The working relationship that developed between Lazarsfeld and Merton was one of the most significant in Merton's career and one that Merton referred to as an "improbable collaboration." While their interests and methods of inquiry differed, they proved to be complementary. Lazarsfeld was known as a methodologist while Merton was the social theorist. Pinpointing their influence on each other over the course of three decades is difficult. However, one of Merton's best known contributions, the focused group interview (which later was transmuted into "focus groups"), was brought about by Lazarsfeld's insistence on developing well- articulated research methodologies.

At the Bureau, Merton and Lazarsfeld trained scores of students and colleagues in social research, and produced major sociological studies on the media, mass communication, mixed race housing communities, and professions. Merton published several books related to these studies including, Mass Persuasion (1946), Reader in Bureaucracy (1952), The Student- Physician (1957), Patterns in Social Life: Explorations in the Sociology of Housing (1951), and The Focused Interview (1956).

In this same period, Merton's lectures on sociological theory drew scores of students not only from the sociology department but also from departments of history, anthropology, and economics. Courses included Analysis of Social Structure, History of Theory, and Selected Problems in the Theory of Organizations. In conjunction with his studies at the Bureau, Merton also led seminars on the Professions in Modern Society, the Sociological Study of Medical Schools, and the Social Organization of Housing Communities. His commitment to the sociology of science developed further in a seminar of the same name which Merton co-taught with Harriet Zuckerman. As teacher and dissertation advisor, he influenced generations of leading sociologists. These included James Coleman, Peter Blau, Seymour Martin Lipset, Lewis and Rose Coser, Alvin Gouldner, Alice Kitt Rossi, Raymond Boudon, Gary Runciman, Cynthia Epstein, Stephen Cole, Jonathan Cole, and Harriet Zuckerman.

All apart from his teaching, Merton was a productive scholar and editor. In addition to serving on various editorial boards for scholarly publications, as varied as Britannica International Encyclopedia and ISIS, he also edited vast numbers of manuscripts by students and colleagues. By Merton's own estimate, he edited 2,000 articles and 250 books. His own writings include over 175 published articles and nearly 30 books, as well as numerous book reviews, forwards, introductions, and compilations.

Many of the well-known theories and concepts Merton created are reflected in his published articles, including "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action" (1936)"The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" (1948)"Social Structure and Anomie" (1938)"Insiders and Outsiders" (1972), and "Priorities in Scientific Discovery: A Chapter in the Sociology of Science" (1957). Merton's notable books include Social Theory and Social Structure (1949; 1957 and 1968 enlarged edition), Contemporary Social Problems (with Robert Nisbet) (1961), and The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations (1973), and The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity (2003).

A fastidious and tireless scholar, Merton devoted long hours to study and research. He was known to sleep very little, and often noted the early morning hour in his letters. Owing to his meticulous note taking and organization of research materials, he revisited earlier themes and ideas, revised and restructured his writing. He also put many projects aside being dissatisfied with the work he had done and completed them only decades later. Merton was a lover of language and embarked on projects to analyze words and their origins, from a historical and sociological perspective, the best known being the aphorism "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Merton's journey to discover the phrases' origins led to the publication of On the Shoulders of Giants: a Shandean Postscript in 1965. The book, which he characterized as his favorite "brain child" is told as a discursive narrative, drawing the reader into the process of its creation while examining the creation of ideas. Many of Merton's publications follow this technique, and contain Merton's trademark wit and humor.

Merton's numerous interests were also reflected in his affiliations with various committees, commissions, boards, and councils. Merton was an adjunct faculty member at The Rockefeller University and Resident Scholar and Foundation Scholar with the Russell Sage Foundation. He served as the George Sarton Professor of the History of Science at the University of Ghent in Belgium from 1986-1987 and as President of various professional associations, including the American Sociological Association, Sociological Research Association, Eastern Sociological Society, and the Society for Social Studies of Science.

Merton's professional accolades speak to his extraordinary accomplishments. Over the course of his career he garnered twenty nine honorary degrees from universities around the world, membership in honorary societies, awards, lectureships, and trusteeships. His most notable honors include membership in the National Academy of Science, the American Philosophical Society, the Swedish Academy of Science, the British Academy and the Academia Europea. In 1994 Merton became the first sociologist to receive the National Medal of Science. He also held a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1962, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1983-1988, and the American Sociological Association's Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in 1979. Colleagues remarked that had there been a Nobel Prize in Sociology, Merton surely would have received it.

Merton was married twice and had three children, Stephanie, Robert, and Vanessa. He passed away on February 23, 2003 at the age of 92. His final work, co-authored with Elinor Barber, The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity, was published in Italian in 2002 and posthumously in English in 2004.

Sources: Crothers, Charles. Robert K. Merton. Key Sociologists Series. Chichester: Ellis Horwood Limited; London: Tavistock Publications, 1987. Merton, Robert K. "A Life of Learning: Charles Homer Haskins Lecture." ACLS Occasional Paper, No. 25. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 1994.