Harrison Reuben Merrill

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Harrison R. Merrill was born in Smithfield, Utah, on November 13, 1884, the son of Orrin J. and Elizabeth White Merrill. After graduating from Oneida Stake Academy in Preston, Idaho, he taught school and them resumed his studies at the University of Idaho, Moscow.

Harrison R. Merrill
He married Edna Johnson on January 27, 1909, and soon after was called as a missionary to Ireland, returning in 1911 to teach school in Preston. While there he served as a bishop for three years and as a first counselor in a stake presidency for two. He also graduated from Utah State University in 1916 with a major in English.

In 1921 he became a member of the English Department faculty at Brigham Young University. He obtained an M.S. degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1930.

He was managing editor of “The Improvement Era” for four years and later the director of the Extension Division at BYU. He served for many years as a member of the YMMIA General Board. He also served as a section chairman of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, as an officer in the Boy Scout Organization, and as a moving spirit in writers’ organizations such as the League of Western Writers.

He published hundreds of articles, essays, stories, and poems in newspapers and magazines; was co-author with Professor Lowry Nelson of a book of verse, in addition to one he published privately; author of a volume of short stories; and co-editor of “Utah Sings,” the first state anthology of verse." (Special Program, 22)

In 1936, Merrill became the first chair of the Journalism Department when it officially split from the English Department. He served in that position until his death in 1938. (Pratte, 15)

Professor Merrill died on August 20, 1938, of complications following an appendicitis operation. He and his wife are the parents of three children: Harrison L., Paul, and Ruby Amsted.

As a place for the discovery and display of the arts of language, the Harrison R. Merrill Debate Theatre, located at F-201 in the Harris Fine Arts Center, was created as an auditorium and platform for the presentation of debates. (Special Program)


  • Somewhere Between Mount Olympus and Mount Everest, Paul Alfred Pratte, 2003.
  • Special Program for Naming of Areas, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Tuesday, November 23, 1965 at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.
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