- 1916-1942 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
13 cm of textual records
101 lantern slides : b&w ; 8 x 8 cm
Name of creator
Samuel Alfred Browne Mercer, BD, MA, PhD, DLitt, LlD, DD, FRGS (Ang.), was an Episcopalian minister who became Canada’s foremost Egyptologist during his lengthy career at the University of Toronto. He was a distinguished orientalist and authority on Egyptian hieroglyphics. Mercer was born in 1879 in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, son of Samuel and Elizabeth Browne Mercer. His early education was in St John’s and later at Harvard University. From 1922 to 1923, Dr Mercer was Dean of Bexley Hall at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. On 1 October 1923, he was appointed to University of Toronto’s Trinity College as Dean and Professor of Divinity and remained there from 1924 to his retirement as Professor of Semitic Languages and Egyptology. In 1946 he retired to Worcester, Massachusetts, where he devoted himself to the first translation and commentary of the ancient Pyramid Texts. It was published in 1952.
An active scholar, he held 12 degrees from various universities, published 29 books in his field, and read more than 50 ancient and modern languages. During one of his many trips to the Middle East and Africa, he was present at the opening of the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922. On another field trip to Ethiopia, he discovered a manuscript of the Book of Ecclesiastes that was 200 years older than any previously known.
Mercer married Genevieve, daughter of John Lewis Magee, on 15 August 1910. He died in Toronto on 10 January 1969 at the age of 89, leaving his daughter, Mrs Donald (Harriet) Briggs of Burbank, California, and two sisters, Miss Ethel Mercer and Mrs Ross (Charlotte) Spaulding, both of Toronto.
Found in Trinity College by Harold Nahabedian in 1981, possibly received from Mercer’s sister’s husband, Ross Spaulding. The original box was received in Toronto on 9 November 1960 from Attelborough, Massachusetts. An undated letter from Spaulding with the list
of textual material outlines why these manuscripts were not published.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Received from Harold Nahabedian in 1981.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Fonds comprises handwritten and carbon copies of the manuscripts for two books: “A Study in the Idea of God” and “Civilization in the Making.” As well, there is a Sign-List for Pre-Hammurabi Contract Tablets. There are some 100 lantern slides that Mercer was famous for using in his lectures. Some of these slides by photographer A.J. Reading show titles for the images; however there is no listing of them.
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Finding aid and file list available. Finding aid attached.
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