Frederick Merk

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Frederick Merk
Born August 15, 1887
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died September 24, 1977 (aged 90)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Residence United States
Fields American History
Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater University of Wisconsin
Doctoral advisor Frederick Jackson Turner
Doctoral students John Morton Blum, Paul Wallace Gates, Rodman W. Paul, Ralph Hidy, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Samuel Hays, Bradford Perkins, Elting E. Morison

Frederick Merk (1887–1977) was an American historian. He taught at Harvard University from 1924 to 1956.


Frederick Merk was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1887.[1] He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1911 and then worked for five years at the Wisconsin State Historical Society. In 1916 he went to Harvard University to study under the direction of Frederick Jackson Turner.[2] Upon Turner's retirement in 1924, Merk took up his position with Turner's support. He taught at Harvard until 1956, and oversaw several dozen graduate students.[3]

Scholarly impact[edit]

John Morton Blum, one of Merk's graduate students after World War II, recalled of his mentor that Merk emphasized integrity, "an integrity of mind and process, of the way in which to understand and to write history, an integrity by his standards so severe that perhaps no one of his students could ever achieve it, but a quality he made so important that all of them would try."[4]



  1. ^ John Mack Faragher, "Foreword," in Frederick Merk, Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History, Revised Edition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963, 1995): xi.
  2. ^ John Morton Blum, "A Celebration of Frederick Merk (1887-1977)", The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 1978: 446-453.
  3. ^ Faragher, "Foreword" in Merk, Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History, p. xi.
  4. ^ Blum, A Celebration of Frederick Merk, 448.