Fonds F2171 - Samuel A.B. Mercer fonds

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Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00335 F2171

Title

Samuel A.B. Mercer fonds

Date(s)

  • 1916-1942 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

13 cm of textual records
101 lantern slides : b&w ; 8 x 8 cm

Context area

Name of creator

(1879-1969)

Biographical history

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.

Archival history

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.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Condition and fragility of slides may affect access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Public domain

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Finding aid and file list available. Finding aid attached.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See <i>Trinity University Review</i>, volume LIX, Christmas 1946, report upon Mercer’s retirement from Trinity.

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Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Genre access points

Description identifier

samuel-b-mercer-fonds

Rules and/or conventions used

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

Sources

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Accession area

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