Elting E. Morison

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Elting Elmore Morison (December 14, 1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – April 20, 1995 in Peterborough, New Hampshire)[1][2] was an American historian of technology, military biographer, author of nonfiction books, and essayist. He was an MIT professor emeritus, and the founder of their program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS).[2]


Morison, a grand-nephew of the engineer George S. Morison,[3] was born in Milwaukee. He studied at Harvard University, earning an BA degree in 1932 and an MA in 1934, returning in 1935–1937 as assistant dean. In 1935 he married Anne Hitchcock Sims, daughter of U.S. Admiral William Sims, whose biography he published in 1942 a few months after the Pearl Harbor Attack, becoming the standard scholary biography.

During World War II Morison served in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Morison first came to MIT in 1946 as an assistant professor of humanities in the Sloan School of Industrial Management.

In 1948 the Roosevelt Memorial Association hired Morison as director of the Theodore Roosevelt Research Project, which resulted in the 8-volume standard work The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt (1951–1954) (including his autobiography), of which he was the editor.[4] Fellow MIT professor John Morton Blum was co-editor.

In 1966 Morison joined Yale University as master of Timothy Dwight College and as a professor of history and American studies.

In 1972 Morison rejoined MIT as the emeritus holder of the Killian Chair of the Humanities, playing a major role in conceiving and planning the interdisciplinary program that would later be known as Science, Technology, and Society (STS), which is designed to reveal the sweep of technological change as recorded in the history of science, technology, and industrial development, with an accent on the U.S, focusing on the interaction between scientific, technological, and social factors.

In 1974 Morison published From Know-How to Nowhere: The Development of American Technology, "in which he tried to explain the development of American technology from 1800, when the nation was not able to build a 26-mile canal between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers in Massachusetts, to the late 1960's, when men flung themselves to the moon." [2]

He died in 1995 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He was survived by his second wife Elizabeth Forbes Tilghman Morison of Peterborough, a son, Nicholas G. Morison, two daughters, Mary Morison Nur and Sarah Morison Ford, a brother, John Morison of Lyndeborough, N.H., and three grandchildren.

Professional organizations and affiliations[edit]


Author or co-author[edit]

Editor or co-editor[edit]

  • The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt (8 vols.) (Harvard University Press, 1951–1954)[5] "The Years of Preparation, 1868–1898" (1951), "The Years of Preparation: 1898–1900" (1951), "The Square Deal: 1901–1903" (1951), "The Square Deal: 1903–1905" (1951), "The Big Stick, 1905–1907" (1952), "The Big Stick, 1907–1909" (1952), "The Days of Armageddon, 1909–1914" (1954), "The Days of Armageddon, 1914–1919" (1954). read vol. 1 online
  • 1958 – Elting E. Morison – The American Style: Essays in Value and Performance (Harper & Brothers)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MIT edu – bio. of Elting E. Morison
  2. ^ a b c New York Times obituary of Elting E. Morison
  3. ^ Morison, Elting (1986). "The Master Builder". American Heritage. Fall 1986, Volume 2, issue 2. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  4. ^ theodorerooseveltcenter.org
  5. ^ hup.harvard.edu