Honoring Merriman: Berkeley's Hero in the Spanish Civil War

Merriman memorial plaque installed in Corbera d’Ebre (Tarragona)
$16,336
34%
Raised toward our $47,000 Goal
36 Donors
110
days left
Project ends on August 01, at 11:59 PM PDT
Project Owners

Installation of the Robert H. Merriman Memorial Plaque at UCB

We are asking for donations to install the Robert H. Merriman memorial plaque on campus. This plaque is the second casting of the one shown in the image and video above, Spain's tribute to this UC Berkeley graduate student in economics and native Californian. Merriman was among the first of some 2,800 American men and women to join the International Brigades to fight for democracy during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). In the spirit of internationalism, the University of Barcelona's DIDPATRI research group has offered UCB this copy (shown below). Donations will be used to embed the plaque in stone, along with a smaller informational plaque, at the center of campus near Memorial Glade, which honors Berkeley veterans of World War II. 

Merriman was part of the diverse and racially integrated group of volunteers, a dozen from UC Berkeley alone, that formed the unit known today as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He was quickly promoted to major, becoming one of the highest-ranking Americans in the conflict. He went missing in action on April 2, 1938, near the Ebro River in the province of Tarragona. It is believed that he either perished in battle or was summarily executed by the fascists. 

Photo of Robert H. Merriman Plaque

ABRAHAM LINCOLN BATTALION

XV INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE

FOR YOUR LIBERTY AND OURS

IN MEMORY OF

ROBERT H. MERRIMAN

DIED CORBERA D’EBRE APRIL 1938



The plaque pictures a uniformed Merriman in bas relief under the three-pointed star, emblem of the International Brigades. His image stands against a background of sun rays symbolizing the hoped-for Republican dawn that would ensure Spain's future as a modern European democracy. The Catalan text is translated into English on the right.

Merriman's wife, Marion (Stone) Merriman Wachtel, shown below with her husband, was one of several American woman enlisted in the brigades. Upon her return to California, she helped raise medical aid for Spanish Loyalists and was active for many years in the Bay Area Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB)

Placing this plaque on the Berkeley campus, we join the University of Barcelona in memorializing Merriman, who represents the heroic efforts of the Lincoln Brigade to defend democracy in Spain. If we are unable to meet the goal of $47,000 by August 1, 2024, we will modify the design of the monument and install the plaques on an existing wall near Memorial Glade. Any excess gifts after the installation of the monument and plaques will be used by Department of Spanish & Portuguese to meet core needs and to facilitate research and teaching.

Photo of Marion and Robert Merriman
Marion Merriman Wachtel and Major Robert Merriman. [Madrid], Nov. 23, 1937. Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade photograph collection. The Bancroft Library. BANC PIC 1988.047, folder 39.


Recorded events and other media

FUNDRAISING LAUNCH EVENT

Remembering Robert H. Merriman (1908-1938) From Berkeley to the Trenches of the Spanish Civil WarDepartment of Spanish & Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley. October 3, 2023. (Online recording, 67:41 min.)

VIDEO FROM UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA

Homage to Robert H. Merriman and the 15th International Brigade. Barcelona: Grup de recerca DIDPATRI, Universitat de Barcelona, 2023. (Video 5:59 min.) 

Sources consulted

Bermack, Richard. The Front Lines of Social Change : Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Berkeley, CA. Heyday Books, 2005. 

Carroll, Peter N. The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade : Americans in the Spanish Civil War. Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press, 1994.

Hochschild, Adam. Spain in Our Hearts : Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Merriman, Marion, and Warren Lerude. American Commander in Spain: Robert Hale Merriman and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Nevada: University of Nevada Press, 2020.

Robert Merriman Diaries 1 and 2 from Robert Hale Merriman and Marion Merriman Papers, 1922-1993 (bulk 1934-1989). Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University Libraries. Online.


UC Berkeley's Memorial Glade with Doe Library in the midground where Merriman would often study and The Bancroft Library in the background which houses the Bay Area VALB archives.


For more information, please contact us at rhmplaque@gmail.com.

 Any support is greatly appreciated, thank you!

Our way
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$2,000

Visit to ALBA Monument in SF

A guided visit of the San Francisco Monument to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade installed at the Embarcadero Plaza in 2008. The translucent stone squares in the steel structure show scenes from the war and the faces of some U.S. volunteers in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), as well as words about the period from writers like Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda, and Alvah Bessie. It was designed by Ann Chamberlain and Walter Hood, and donated by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives together with the Veterans and Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. 6 person max.

0 of 5 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2024

$2,500

Merriman's UCB Walking Tour

Join the Merriman Plaque project coordinators on a tour of one of Robert Merriman's favorite places to study, potential locations where the plaque will be installed, and a stroll to the apartment building where he and Marion lived in the 1930s. 6 person max.

0 of 10 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2024

$3,500

Zoom Webinar on SCW Music

Peter Glazer, emeritus professor in UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies and a professional director and playwright whose adaptations and collaborations include Woody Guthrie’s American Song and Heart of Spain: A Musical of the Spanish Civil War, has offered a 90-minute Zoom webinar on the music of the Spanish Civil War.

0 of 3 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2024

$5,000

Curated visit Bancroft Library

Curated tour of the Bancroft Library's Spanish Civil War and Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Bay Area Post Records collection at UC Berkeley. Includes correspondence, administrative files, photographs, posters, postcards, artifacts, clippings, articles, scrapbooks, artifacts, biographical material, broadsides and organizational information. 4 person max.

1 of 5 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2024
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