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Series II: Correspondence, 1930-2003
Series III: Course Materials, 1928-1998
Series IV: Professional Career, 1933-2003
Series VII: Writings, 1931-2002
Series V: Reference and Research, 1933-2002
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.