William Henry Merrill

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William Henry Merrill (December 29, 1868 – September 17, 1923)[1] was an American electrical engineer who founded Underwriters Laboratories in 1894.


Personal: Born on 29 Dec 1868 in Warsaw, Wyoming County, New York. He was the son of William Henry Merrill (1840-1907) and Flora Agnes Judd (1842-1880). He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1889. In 1897 he married Bessie A Henderson (1872-1956). He was a member of the Midday and University clubs of Chicago and of the Sigma Chi college fraternity. He died on 17 September 1923 at the Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. His burial was held at the Merrill Plot at Warsaw Cemetery in Warsaw, Wyoming County, New York. He was survived by children: William Henry Merrill (1899-1960), Grace Henderson Merrill (1902-1951), Charles M Merrill (1903-1958), Elizabeth Merrill (1907-1985) and John F Merrill (1908-1964 __ Professionally: Merrill began his career as an electrical engineer in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1893, he was sent to Chicago, Illinois to investigate the World's Fair Palace of Electricity. He was hired by insurers for the World's Columbian Exposition to examine the safety of the electrical wiring in the Palace of Electricity. This experience led him to found Underwriters Laboratories. __ Positions held: 1903-1909: National Fire Protection Association Secretary/Treasurer, 1910-1912: National Fire Protection Association President, 1916: He served as the first president of Underwriters Laboratories. 1918: Drafted for war service at $1 per year, serving as chairman of the fire prevention section of the war industries board. Today, UL has expanded into an organization with 131 laboratory, testing and certification facilities serving customers in 98 countries. It has also evolved from its roots in electrical and fire safety to address broader safety issues, such as hazardous substances, water quality, food safety, performance testing and environmental sustainability.


  1. ^ "In Memoriam: William Henry Merrill". Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the National Fire Protection Association: 27. 1924. 

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