Meroney, William Penn (1881–1938)

By: Charles M. Tolbert

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 1, 1995

William Penn Meroney, sociology professor, son of William Lowndes and Lucete (Howard) Meroney, was born at Plano, Texas, on January 7, 1881. He married Ada Kathreen Reid on February 10, 1904, and they became the parents of three sons. Meroney attended Texas A&M from 1896 to 1898 and graduated with an A.A. degree from Howard Payne College in 1903. Shortly after his transfer to Baylor University in 1903, he was ordained to the ministry by the East Waco Baptist Church. Upon receiving his A.B. degree from Baylor in 1907, he decided to make religion his lifework. He earned three degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-a Th.B. (1912), a Th.M. (1917), and a Th.D. (1919). During this period he served as the pastor of Baptist churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. He taught at Bethel College in Russellville, Kentucky, during the academic year 1918–19.

After this brief teaching experience Meroney changed career goals and entered the graduate program in sociology at the University of Chicago. When he completed the A.M. degree in 1922, he was invited to Baylor University as chairman of the sociology department, a position he held until his death. In 1925 he published a freshman text entitled Introductory Studies in Sociology, which embodied his response to the conflict between biblical fundamentalists and evolutionists. Meroney was held in high regard by his professional colleagues. He served two terms as president of the Southwestern Sociological Association, 1925–26 and 1929–30. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the American Sociological Society in 1935 and served on its Committee on Publications. He published articles in Social Forces, Southwestern Social Science Quarterly (later Social Science Quarterly), and Publications of the American Sociological Society. At Baylor he inaugurated the graduate program in sociology in 1922 and organized a Texas chapter of the sociology honor society Alpha Kappa Delta in 1928. He died on December 25, 1938, at Waco.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Charles M. Tolbert, “Meroney, William Penn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995