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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 VI: Studies and Projects, 1935-1997
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