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Merton's Correspondence with:

Seymour Freedgood; Sy Freedgood; Freedgood, Sy

Freedgood, Seymour, 1915-1968  printer


Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1950-1968
Volume: 36 item(s); 47 pg(s)

Scope and Content


Seymour "Sy" Freedgood was one of Merton's friends from Columbia University. It was through Freedgood that Merton met the Hindu monk Bramachari, whom Merton describes in The Seven Storey Mountain. He was one of the Columbia group who had attended Merton's ordination in 1949. Sy Freedgood was later an editor at Fortune Magazine, and Merton was in contact with his wife, Anne, at Doubleday. He did not seem to settle into a religious tradition, but constantly read and struggled with religion. He wanted to visit Gethsemani in 1964 to dialogue with D. T. Suzuki but it did not come about. In 1967, he arranged a trip to Gethsemani. Merton interpreted a car accident Freedgood had on the way to the monastery as a gloomy portent, and Freedgood would be killed in a house fire the following year. His wit and sense of humor are evident in his arrangement of a shipment of crates of all 57 varieties of Heinz products to be delivered to the monastery to the abbot's shock. He made Merton a member of the Steering Committee of NIPS, the National Institutes of Public Scolds, an organization dedicated to lampooning bureaucratic red tape and causing other mischief. (Sources: The Road to Joy, p. 123; and The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, pp. 163-164.)

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Related Information and Links

See also published letters from Merton to Freedgood in The Road to Joy, pp. 123-131.

Other Finding Aids

If the person in correspondence with Merton has full text records in the Merton Center Digital Collections, there will be a numeric link to them below.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

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#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1950/02/25 TLS[x] from Merton Father Abbot gave me your letter to answer. There is a statue of the General Chapter forbidding «detailed view»
2. 1963/08/15 (#01) TLS to Merton I have just had a letter addressed to Dr. S. Freedgood at my address in NYC from Dr. M. Bramachari, [encloses letter to Brahmachari of the same date] «detailed view»
3. 1963/08/15 (#02) TL[c] to Bramachari, , Mahanambrata I am sorry to learn that your friend, Mr. A.J. Chatterjee, is suffering from T.B. with neurological [enclosed with letter to Merton of the same date] «detailed view»
4. 1964/01/02 TAL[c] from Merton Got your letter in August and went to the hospital soon after it with a bad back because the pixies «detailed view»
5. 1964/01/06 TLS to Merton I think the best place to meet is the New Moon Inn at 110th and Broadway. The West End Cafeteria is «detailed view»
6. 1964/02/10 TLS to Merton Anne showed me your letter thanking her for the parcel of books. Now I have another question «detailed view»
7. 1965/07/01 TL[c] from Merton As I gradually approach the terminus of my latest work, the Metaphysical Footnote, now running «detailed view»
8. 1967/01/10 TL[c] from Merton I am writing to inquire about a subversive outfit in your building and perhaps even right under your «detailed view»
9. 1967/01/17 (#01) TALS to Merton By risible circumstance, Time-Life Books is located under my desk: I am at this very moment «detailed view»
10. 1967/01/17 (#02) TALS to Merton As I was putting the carbon of my letter to you of this morning in my files, I discovered this copy [encloses letter from Julia Freedgood] «detailed view»
11. 1967/01/17 (#03) TAL[x]  from Freedgood, Julia / to David J. and Katharyn Colton My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Seymour Freedgood, have asked me to write and thank you for the book you [to David J. and Katharyn Colton (great uncle and aunt of Julia Freedgood) - dated 1966/12/31 - enclosed with 1967/01/17 letters from Sy Freedgood to Merton] «detailed view»
12. 1967/01/19 TAL[c] to Merton I have been pondering the letter I sent you the other day in answer to your request of Jan. 10th for «detailed view»
13. 1967/02/02 TALS to Merton I get the impression from the letter you sent Anne on Jan. 29th that you had not yet on that date «detailed view»
14. 1967/02/04 TL[c] from Merton Ok, I have wiped out all the tapes and have sunk a tugboat called the Maine in Havana harbor. [letter has the facetious date of 1902 on it] «detailed view»
15. 1967/02/13 TL[c] from Merton I am horrified to hear how Slate was set upon by Hells Angels in the Metro. The Metro ought to be «detailed view»
16. 1967/02/24 HLS to Merton If it's okay with you, I'd like very much to come down for a couple of days sometime during the work «detailed view»
17. 1967/04/06 (#01) TLS to Merton Thanks for the books. I will sell them at once for the value of the inscriptions and replace them «detailed view»
18. 1967/04/06 (#02) other   POET IN A PINCH [-] (BEIRUT--GRIGGS). EVGENY YEVTUSHENKO BLEW INTO [enclosed with 1967/04/06 letter from Freedgood to Merton] «detailed view»
19. 1967/04/12 TL[c] from Merton Many thanks for your two letters and for the transcript of the tape. Thanks also for discussing «detailed view»
20. 1967/04/28 TALS to Merton This lady apparently joined the CIA and found God. So, if any of your colleagues are still «detailed view»
21. 1967/05/02 TALS[x] to Hartford, Huntington I have a complaint to make about the conduct of the guards and ticket seller at your museum. [labeled "For NIPS distribution" - NIPS was Freedgood's "National Institutes of Public Scolds", of which Merton was a member of the Steering Committee and copied on this letter] «detailed view»
22. 1967/05/06 TLS[x] from Merton Thanks for the Nips blasts. The enclosed will show that I am doing my own small part. «detailed view»
23. 1967/05/12 (#01) TL[c] from Merton Thanks for bringing to my attention the momentous decision of Judge Milton Shalleck regarding «detailed view»
24. 1967/05/12 (#02) TAL[x] from Merton Thanks for bringing to my attention the momentous decision of Judge Milton Shalleck regarding [seemingly a copy for NIPS distribution on 1967/05/22] «detailed view»
25. 1967/05/15 (#01) TLS to NIPS Steering Committee I regret to bring the enclosed matter to your attention. Assuming there is an iota of truth to «detailed view»
26. 1967/05/15 (#02) TLS[x]  from Ferrari, M. We acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 24, 1967, and regret to inform you that the indicator [enclosed with Freedgood's letter of 1967/05/15 - 1967/05/09 letter from M. Ferrari, manager of the Central Bureau for Registered Addresses in New York] «detailed view»
27. 1967/05/16 TLS to Merton Andrei Voznesensky is talking at Town Hall tonight and later some friends of Anne's and mine «detailed view»
28. 1967/05/17 TL[c] from Merton I have not been able to find a copy of my letter to you but here is one to the NY Times Book Review, «detailed view»
29. 1967/05/18 (#01) TALS[x] to Krianes, J. I was so taken by your perfervid talk re NIPS (the National Institutes of Public Scolds) at that [message copies to NIPS members - recipient of letter is variously addressed as Jim; Jas. K. Ma Krianes, Jr.; and J. Ma Kreanes] «detailed view»
30. 1967/05/18 (#02) other to NIPS Members NIPS STEERING COMMITTEE [-] 1) Mrs. Seymour Freedgood [-] Doubleday & Co., 277 Park Ave., [enclosed with 1967/05/18 letter - includes names and addresses of NIPS Steering Committee and "Cautious Observers"] «detailed view»
31. 1967/05/19 HLS[x] to Brown, Francis I was very impressed with the talk you gave me about the "new" Sunday Times - and particularly [from Freedgood to Francis Brown, editor of the New York Times Book Review - Freedgood includes Merton's 1967/05/04 letter to the NYT Book Review disputing a negative review given to Lewis Mumford's The Myth of the Machine - copy sent to Merton] «detailed view»
32. 1967/05/22 TL[c] from Merton Thanks for the interesting clipping on Voznesensky. As a matter of fact, I would like to meet him «detailed view»
33. 1967/05/31 TALS[x]  from Fox, James / to Seymour Freedgood A few days ago a truck pulled up to the monastery and unloaded seventeen cases of "Heinz 57 [copy of Dom James Fox's letter sent to NIPS members regarding a truckload of Heinz products delivered to Gethsemani - Freedgood notes to members, "Stop laughing. This is serious."] «detailed view»
34. 1967/06/13 TALS[x] to Merton I want you to be the first to have the NIPS letterheads after Anne and Dr. Free-Weld (Dec'd). [on letterhead of "The National Institutes of Public Scolds" with Merton's name listed on Steering Committee - letter initially addressed to Prof. Laurence Lafore with Larry crossed out, then Father crossed out and addressed "Dad"] «detailed view»
35. 1967/12/31 TL[c] from Merton Happy New Year to you and Ann. Bumper crops. Derby winners for Julia. World champion Polo «detailed view»
36. 1968/01/23 other   Read at the Services for Seymour Freedgood [-] January 23, 1968 [-] by John Brooks [pamphlet with a eulogy read at the funeral of Seymour Freedgood] «detailed view»

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