Ellen C. Merrill was an accomplished research-writer and former professor at Dillard University fascinated with the impact the German culture had upon the development of New Orleans. She worked for several years as the curator of education for the Historic New Orleans Collection. During this time she completed research related to the German heritage on the city and state with materials not available to the public.
She began her teaching career as a professor at Dillard University. There, along with teaching, she learned the art of grant writing. She received several grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, enabling her to complete her manuscript.
Germans of Louisiana is the first unified published study of the influence the German people made on the state of Louisiana and its inhabitants. Beginning with the French and Spanish colonial periods and working through the post-Civil War period, this book covers the heritage those German settlers left behind.
Merrill attended William and Mary College and Newcomb College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1957. She then spent three years in Europe at the University of Heidelberg, where she earned a diploma from the School of Translators and Interpreters. She returned to the States to obtain her Ph.D. in German language and literature from Tulane University. Her research and education, enabled her to write the first comprehensive study of the history of German culture in South Louisiana.
Merrill, whose passion for travel led her to every continent except Antarctica, passed away in July of 2017. She is survived by her husband of many years who still resides in New Orleans.