Martin Meyerson Papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Martin Meyerson enjoyed a long career in American higher education, first as a faculty member in the academic discipline of city planning and then as a senior academic administrator culminating in the presidency of the University of Pennsylvania. From 1948 to 1963, he was successively a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University. From 1963 to 1966, he was Dean of the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at Berkeley. In his final year at Berkeley he was also Acting Chancellor. From 1966 to 1970, he was President of the State University of New York at Buffalo and from September 1970 through January 1981 he was President of the University of Pennsylvania. He was then named President Emeritus and remained active at Penn in that role until his death.
During his early career in city planning, Meyerson's theoretical contributions called for the integration of social science and an understanding of economic markets. An expert on national, regional, urban and industrial development, Meyerson served on numerous advisory boards, consulted internationally, and was active with various professional organizations.
The only child of Samuel and Etta Berger Meyerson, Martin Meyerson as born on November 14, 1922, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He received his bachelors degree from Columbia University in 1942, followed by a Masters of City Planning from Harvard University in 1949. After briefly working for the Philadelphia Planning Commission, Meyerson went to the University of Chicago in 1948 as an assistant professor of social sciences. While in Chicago he also held planning positions with the Chicago Housing Authority and the Michael Reese Hospital. Many of Meyerson's ideas relating to planning came from his observing the effects of public housing projects in Chicago at this time. In 1952 he came to the University of Pennsylvania as associate professor in the Department of City and Regional planning in the Graduate School of Fine Arts (now the School of Design). In the early years of his career, Meyerson's books became important contributions to establishing the theoretical foundations of urban planning in the post-World War II era. Most notably he co-authored with Edward C. Banfield Politics, Planning and Public Interest: The Case of Public Housing In Chicago (1955) which supported the idea that physical planning had to be integrated into socio-economic planning, and the political process. While at Penn, Meyerson taught a course and developed a friendship with Lewis Mumford - whose idea of "polytechnics" closely matched Meyerson's own ideas.
In 1957 Meyerson returned to Harvard University as the first tenured Williams Professor of City Planning and Urban Research, as well as the founding director of the Joint Center for Urban Studies between Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1963 to 1966 he served as dean of the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at Berkley. In 1965 Meyerson was given his first roll in university administration when the Free Speech Moment caused tension on campus between students and the Board of Regents, forcing Chancellor Edward W. Strong out of office. Seeking to restore order to campus, University President Clark Kerr asked Meyerson to serve as acting chancellor, and Meyerson's performance in handling the situation received wide acclaim. After Berkley, Meyerson served as the tenth president of the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1966 to 1970. His arrival coincided with the challenge of a rapidly expanding State University system in an old industrial city in decline. During his tenure he oversaw the academic reorganization of the school, the planning and groundbreaking of the North Campus in Amherst, the establishment of the School of Architecture and Environmental Design, and the purchase of the Darwin D. Martin house as the home for the University President.
Following the retirement of Gaylord P. Harnwell, Meyerson was selected to be the next president of the University of Pennsylvania. From 1970 to 1981 he was able to draw upon his expertise as one of the nation's preeminent planners to bring about his "One University" plan. At the time of his appointment Penn was confronting the issue of how to expand a university in a declining urban environment - a challenge much like the one Meyerson had dealt with in Buffalo. Meyerson was responsible for creating a true center of campus by closing streets, building landscaped walkways, and creating Blanche P. Levy Park on College Green. He also unified the liberal arts and sciences on campus through the creation of the School of Arts and Sciences in 1974 to combine the College, Graduates School of Arts and Sciences, College for Women, College of General Studies and the social science departments of the Wharton School. Other notable accomplishments during the Meyerson administration include the creation of the College House system, the freshman seminar program, the practice of responsibility center budgeting, the creation of boards of overseers, the University's first affirmative action program for women and minorities in 1972, and a significant fundraising campaign - "Program for the Eighties" - which helped turn around the University's finances. Following his retirement in 1981, Meyerson remained on campus as emeritus president and University Professor of Public Policy Analysis and City and Regional Planning, establishing an office in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. He was chair of the University of Pennsylvania Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Press (1984-1997, subsequently chair emeritus), the Institute for Research on Higher Education, and the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Additionally he served as co-chair of Penn's 250th Anniversary Celebration in 1990; as well as on the boards of the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences, Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, and Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response. Meyerson also found time to chair the Fels Center of Government until 1996, and with his wife Margy, was co-president of the Friends of the Library and the Library's Board of Overseers. In recognition of his contributions to the University the Martin and Margy Meyerson Professorship in Urbanisms was established in 1981, Meyerson Hall was named in his honor in 1983, and the Martin and Margy Meyerson Conference Center was created in 2002 on the second floor of the Library.
In addition to all of his academic and professional responsibilities, Meyerson also found time to serve actively on numerous boards, professional societies, and projects. He chaired the Assembly on University Goals and Governance from 1969-1974, and the selection committee for the Philadelphia Liberty Medal from 1988 - 2005; he founded London's Centre for Environmental Studies, and Japan's International Centre for the Study of East Asian Development; he was on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia Britannica and Daedalus, and he was president of the Foundation for the International Exchange of Scientific and Cultural Information by Telecommunications (FISCIT), and chairman of the Marconi Foundation. Meyerson was also a trustee and senior fellow of the Aspen Institute; a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the Royal Society of Arts, and the American Institute of Certified Planners; and an academician of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; and an active member the American Philosophical Society, the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Education. These are but a few of the many other boards and programs he served on.
Martin Meyerson died on June 2, 2007 at Penn-Presbyterian Medical Center. He was eighty four years old.
The Martin Meyerson Personal Papers document President Meyerson's professional activities from his time as president at the State University of New York at Buffalo through to his time as emeritus president at the University of Pennsylvania. While there are some administrative related files, the bulk of the collection relates to his work on numerous boards and involvement with professional societies. Original order has been maintained as closely as possible.
The General Files series relates to the Meyerson's professional activities outside of his academic responsibilities. This includes his service on boards and professional, cultural, educational, and corporate organizations. Among those represented are the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, Foundation for the International Exchange of Scientific and Cultural Information by Telecommunications, Marconi Foundation, and the Liberty Medal Selection Committee.
The Correspondence Series was maintained as a separate file by President Meyerson in his office. Incoming correspondence was maintained in an alphabetical order, with occasional responses attached to the original letter. Outgoing correspondence was organized chronologically. This order was retained during processing. The Correspondence Series also contains the sub-series Recommendations and CVs, Admissions Inquires, Phone Message Records, and Miscellaneous Invitations.
The Datebook and Schedule Series is comprised of President Meyerson's appointment books and schedules. The State University of New York at Buffalo Series contains documents that President Meyerson brought with him to the University of Pennsylvania, and relates to administrative matters of that institution.
The University of Pennsylvania Series primarily documents President Meyerson's activities at Penn after his retirement in 1981. While the series does contain material from his administration, the bulk relates to his numerous activities while president emeritus and university professor. This includes co-chairing the University's 250th Anniversary Celebration, serving as a member of the faculty and advisor in Department of City and Regional Planning and the Fels Center of Government, research on University sponsored projects, and as a board member of the University Press and the Friends of the Library.
The Works By Series contains speeches, articles, and writings by President Meyerson throughout his career. These have been organized into subseries relating to the State University of New York at Buffalo Files, the University of Pennsylvania Files, Speeches, Assembly on University Goals and Governance, Writings, and Bound Volumes. The Personal Files Sereis contains biographical and family related material, as well as awards President Meyerson received. The Training Manual Files Series documents President Meyerson's work with Robert Zemsky during the 1980s on a National Institute of Education grant to examine the relationship between education and the workforce. The Subject Files Series was maintained by President Meyerson, and relates to topics which he had a professional or research interest in. The Miscellaneous Files Series is comprised of material found in the collection which could not be associated with one of the other series. Works By Others contains articles sent to President Meyerson by colleagues. Finally, the Audio and Video Series contain multimedia items found in other series of the collection. The collection does contain some photographs, which were kept with their original files.
Other collections that relate to President Meyerson at the University Archives are the Office of the President Martin Meyerson Files (UPA 4), the 250th Anniversary Commission Records (UPG 388), and Office of the President Assistant to the President for Special Projects Records (UPA 5.8). At other institutions: University of California Berkley Special Collections holds the Records of the Office of the Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley, 1952-[ongoing], CU-149 Series 3: Records, 1962-1966; and the State University of New York at Buffalo Special Collections holds RG4 - Presidents: RG 4/10 Martin Meyerson, 1966-1970
The Martin Meyerson Papers are organized in thirteen series: General Files (66 cu ft, 1965-2004), Correspondence (21.25 cu ft, 1966-2004), Datebooks and Schedules (2.5 cu ft, 1967-2007), State University of New York at Buffalo (6.5 cu ft, 1964-1970), University of Pennsylvania (56.25 cu ft, 1970-2004), Works By (7 cu ft, 1952-2003), Personal Files (1.5 cu ft, 1966-2004), Training Manual (11 cu ft, 1970-1994), Subject Files (2.25 cu ft, 1960-2003), Miscellaneous (.25 cu ft, 1970-2003), Works By Others (1 cu ft, 1969-2001), Audio Tapes (.5 cu ft, 1973-1985), Video Tapes (2 cu ft, 1987-2000).
The Martin Meyerson Papers were donated to the University Archives by Mrs. Margery Meyerson, Accession Number (2007:049). Additional material originally stored by President Meyerson at the Records Center was transferred to the Archives in 2008.
- American Association of Universities
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- American School of Oriental Research
- Marconi International Fellowship
- Jewish Publication Society of America
- American Philosophical Society
- Philadelphia 1976 Bicentennial Corporation
- University of Pennsylvania. Foreign Policy Research Institute
- Aspen Institute
- International House of Philadelphia
- Harvard University
- University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Kaiyi Chen, revised by Joseph-James Ahern
- Finding Aid Date
- 2000, revised June 2010