The Marlene Deahl Merrill Papers reflect her professional activity from 1978 to 2017 as an independent researcher, documentary editor, author, speaker and consultant, Research Associate for the Oberlin College Library, and Affilate Scholar for Oberlin College for over fifteen years. Her area of expertise is 19th century American history, particularly that of Oberlin as situated in the larger national context on the issues of education and rights of Black people and women. Merrill also edited and published journals from members of the 1860 and 1871 expeditions to the Yellowstone area, sparked by the journal of George Nelson Allen on the Hayden Expedition in the Oberlin College Archives, and the Merrills’ second residence in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The papers also document her involvement in the Oberlin community, in public history projects, service on boards and committees, as newsletter editor for Kendal at Oberlin, and participation in recreational and musical groups.
SUBGROUP AND SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
Subgroup I. Biographical, 1978-2004 (0.2 l.f.)
Personal material is limited to awards, certificates, Merrill’s curriculum vitae from 1983, church-related correspondence, clippings on her work and community involvement, and material related to a birding group and its trips to the Yellowstone area. Subgroup II. Correspondence holds some letters of a personal nature.
Subgroup II. Correspondence, 1981-2010 (1.6 l.f.)
The correspondence in Subgroup II is primarily E-mail of a professional nature; some of her professional contacts were also personal friends. Correspondence with publishers and others regarding Merrill’s publications are filed in Subgroup VIII. Publication Files. Subgroup VII. Research Files also holds correspondence specific to research topics.
Subgroup III. Committees and Boards, 1873-2017 (0.6 l.f.)
About half of the subgroup holds varied files for community and Oberlin College committees and boards. The remainder documents Merrill’s involvement in the Oberlin Oral History Project Committee.
Subgroup IV. Writings, 1869-2014 (0.8 l.f.)
The writings subgroup is divided equally into Series 1. Writings by Marlene Merrill, and Series 2. Writings by Others. Series 1 holds three books, one exhibit catalog, and nine short manuscripts. Four of her books are not in the collection: Soulmates: The Correspondence of Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846-1874 (1983); The Three Sarahs: Documents of Antebellum Black College Women (1984); Friends and Sisters: Letters Between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846-1893 (1987); and Growing Up in Boston’s Gilded Age: The Diary of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1872-1874 (1990).
Series 2 holds publications by other authors from the 1970s to the early 2000s, reflecting Merrill’s research pursuits resulting in her own publications, conference papers and talks. Two exceptions are reprints of reports of the exploration of the Yellowstone area in 1860, originally published by the Government Printing Office in 1868 and 1869.
Subgroup V. Professional Activity and Freelance Projects, 1907-2015 (1.2 l.f.)
The Merrill Papers document her work as a manuscript reader for five authors, her presentations and attendance at conferences and workshops, curatorial work on two exhibitions, guest lectures for Oberlin College courses, and various projects as a public historian and editor. Also included is material on her fellowship from the Wyoming Council for the Humanities.
Subgroup VI. Talks, 1979-2015 (0.6 l.f.)
The Talks subgroup comprises full texts as well as shorthand notes for talks and papers primarily presented at Oberlin. Several were delivered at memorial services for Oberlin colleagues. Papers and talks presented elsewhere include the Women’s Studies Conference in Rochester, Indiana, the Cuyahoga County Library in Pepper Pike, Ohio, and the Rowfant Club in Cleveland. Two others were talks for book signings, one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Subgroup VII. Research Files, 1831-2012 (4.6 l.f.)
The research files represent the largest subgroup in the Marlene Deahl Merrill Papers. The researcher will find much here that Merrill spent years gathering from various repositories. The materials in Subgroup IX. Non-textual are also research sources, with the exception of a few personal photographs.
The files are arranged in three series, two of which are further divided into subseries. Series 1. Oberlin History comprises Subseries 1. General; Subseries 2. Antislavery and Black History; Subseries 3. Founding and Early History; and Subseries 4. Women.
Series 2. Expeditions to the Greater Yellowstone Area comprises Subseries 1. 1860 William F. Raynolds Expedition; Subseries 2. 1871 William F. Hayden Survey; and Subseries 3. Western Explorations, general.
Series 3. United States History holds materials related to Oberlin History in the wider national context such as slavery, black history, and women’s history. A few files reflect topics unrelated to issues in Oberlin’s history. All of the groupings in the research files contain copies of primary as well as secondary sources, dating back to 1831.
Subgroup VIII. Publication Files, 1981-2015 (1.8 l.f.)
Correspondence with publishers and repositories for six books are represented in this subgroup. Included are prospectuses, contracts, correspondence, permissions, publicity and reviews.
Subgroup IX. Non-textual Matter, 1831-2006 (2.86 l.f.)
The non-textual matter in the Merrill Papers was, for the most part, embedded within the research and publication files. They are arranged in three series: Series 1. Photographs and Photographic Copies; Series 2. Maps; and Series 3. CD-ROMs and Microfilm.
There are many photocopies of visual materials in the research and publication files, but Series 1 of this subgroup holds original photographs and copy prints of photographs, watercolors and maps. Most of the copy prints were purchased from repositories as illustrations for Merrill’s Yellowstone expedition books. The maps are photocopies of historical maps, with some contemporary road and trail maps, for research for and reproduction in the Yellowstone books and Growing Up in Boston’s Gilded Age. Series 3 holds two CD-ROMs: an oral history, and a publication by the U.S. Geological Survey. Also in the series is a set of ten reels of microfilm from the National Archives and Records Administration, the Records of the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (“Hayden Survey”), 1867-79.