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John Merson (AC 1966) Papers

Identifier: MA.00069

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the papers consist of Merson's letters written home to family members during Marine Corps basic training and combat duty in Vietnam, 1965-1968, in which he describes conditions in that country, his thoughts about the war and his plans for his life after the military. Also included are a journal kept by Merson during his undergraduate days at Amherst and an undated notebook, written sometime after his military service, that records changes in Merson's views on the Vietnam War. Although his letters home do not reveal many of his personal views about the politics of the war, the later notebook clearly indicates his weakening support for it.


  • Creation: 1960-1968


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Merson Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Merson Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

John Cox Merson was born in Washington, D.C. in 1944. He grew up chiefly in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and graduated from the Kent School, Connecticut, in 1962. As an undergraduate at Amherst he majored in Political Science, was President of Student Council in his Junior year (1965) and participated in wrestling, crew, and cross country. In 1965 after his Junior year, Merson withdrew from Amherst without receiving a degree. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, undergoing basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California. In May 1966 he shipped out for a tour of duty in Vietnam as part of the 7th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battallion, K Company, 3rd Platoon. After a year of combat duty, Merson returned to the U.S. in May 1967. Upon leaving the military, Merson enrolled at the University of North Carolina; he later earned an MBA degree at Harvard Business School. He has worked as an administrator at Lenoir Rhyne College, Hickory, North Carolina, under the auspices of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. In the 1970s Merson entered the field of management consulting in New York, working actively with educational institutions.


0.5 Linear feet (1 archives box)

Language of Materials



Vietnam War soldier, business administrator. Contains mainly letters written home to family members during Marine Corps basic training and combat duty in Vietnam, 1965-1968.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Amherst College, 1962-1965
  2. Series 2: Correspondence, 1960-1968
  3. Series 3: Notes on Vietnam War, [1968?]
  4. Series 4: Personal Affairs and Miscellaneous, circa 1961-1968

Related Materials

Alumni Biographical Files - Class of 1966 - Merson.

Marshall Bloom Papers. Bloom and Merson were roommates at Amherst for a time, and the Bloom Papers include several pieces of correspondence through 1969. See Box 2, folders 5, 8, 9, 14, 20 and 21; correspondence may also be located in other folders.

Peter Nelson
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299