Robert K. Murray (1922-2019) was a 20th-century American professor of history at the Pennsylvania State University for 35 years, best known for The Harding Era (1969), a biography of US President Warren G. Harding, which won a History Book of the Month Club selection, McNight Distinguished Book Award, and Phi Alpha Theta National Book award.
Robert Keith Murray was born on April 9, 1922, in Union City, Indiana. His parents were Darrell Richard and Orpha Alice Michael Murray. He attended public schools in Columbus, Ohio. In 1943, he earned both BA and BS degrees. In 1943, he earned an MA and in 1949 a doctorate in Modern American History from Ohio State University.
Murray began his long academic career as instructor in History at Ohio State University. In 1949, he joined Pennsylvania State University. In 1959, he became full professor of American History. He headed History Department (1959 to 1969). He served as assistant graduate dean (1964 to 1967). He helped develop and plan Penn State's Kern Graduate Center. In 1974, Murray became a Senior Fellow in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. In 1984, he retired from Penn State after 35 years there.
Murray helped open the Harding Papers to the public (thought burned), based on which he wrote The Harding Era (1969) (see Awards and Works sections, below).
Outside of academics, Murray serves as an institutional Peace Corps representative (1961-1963), special consultant to the American Council on Education (1962-1964), member of the National Archives Commission (1971-1976), and referee for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
On December 7, 1943, Murray married Evelyn Fay Keller (died 2015); they had two daughters and a son.
Beyond Penn State, Murray was a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the National Education Association, the Pennsylvania Historical Association, and American Association of University Professors.
Murray died age 96 on February 9, 2019, in Tampa, Florida.
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