The Dr. Horace Samuel Merrill Dissertation Award was established in June 2007 with gifts previously made by Dr. Merrill's family, friends and former students. Spendable Income from the Dr. Horace Samuel Merrill Dissertation Award provides annual support for graduate students in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Humanities.
Born on a Wisconsin farm in 1910, Horace Samuel Merrill received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in 1942 and joined the faculty of the University of Maryland in 1946. He wrote Bourbon Democracy of the Middle West 1865-1896 in 1969 and biographies of Grover Cleveland and William Freeman Vilas. A "gruff but avuncular mentor," he supervised 26 doctoral and 68 master's candidates during his 34 year tenure at the University.
Dr. Merrill helped his students get through school and through life. He stressed the importance of historians being able to write well. Graduate students attended writing seminars hosted by Dr. Merrill and his wife Marion Galbraith Merrill at their home. There they snacked and learned "Merrill's Rules" for historical writing.
Marion Merrill often worked side-by-side with her husband in his research, but deferred credit for her assistance. However, his last book, The Republican Command, 1897-1913, lists both names as author. The Merrills were also active in the Civil Rights Movement, and were good friends with fellow notable historian John Hope Franklin. They brought him to Maryland to teach a summer course in 1964.
Dr. Merrill became professor emeritus in 1980 and died in 1996. In 2006 his family, friends and former students made contributions in his memory to name the Horace Samuel Merrill Room in Francis Scott Key Hall and establish an endowed fund to support graduate students.