J. Merton England: National Science Foundation Historian Was 91

Historians in the News

J. Merton England, a history professor, author, editor, Fulbright lecturer and National Science Foundation historian, died of colon failure Jan. 25 at Montgomery General Hospital. He was 91.

As historian, Dr. England wrote a history of the independent federal agency, "A Patron of Pure Science: The National Science Foundation's Formative Years, 1945-1957."

It was published in 1984, the same year Dr. England received the first Richard W. Leopold Prize, given by the Organization of American Historians for best book written by a historian affiliated with federal, state or municipal government. He also won the Henry Adams Prize of the Society for History in the Federal Government.

Dr. England joined the foundation in 1961 and continued to work there in various capacities until his retirement in 1986. His other positions included program director for international grants and special assistant to the director. The foundation promotes science and engineering through research programs and education projects.

The son of a coal prospector and miner, Dr. England was born in Deepwater, Mo., and graduated from what is now Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo. He received a master's degree and doctorate, both in U.S. history, from Vanderbilt University. His dissertation focused on free slaves in pre-Civil War Tennessee.
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