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Dale Mortensen (1939-2014) and Beverly Mortensen (1939- ) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/10/13

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Dale and Beverly Mortensen Papers fill 171 boxes, includes approximately 8.96 megabytes of born-digital files, and spans the years 1939-2014. The papers are divided into four series with corresponding subseries.

Materials documenting Dale Mortensen and his career can be found in boxes 1-103.

Biographical Materials, found in boxes 1-5 and spanning the years 1939-2003, contain baby books, photographs, awards, student papers, yearbooks, fraternity books, family memorabilia, curriculum vitae, personal letters, and Mortensen’s dissertation. These materials primarily document Mortensen’s early life.

Correspondence is found in boxes 6-9 and covers the years 1974-2000. These materials consist of correspondence related to Mortensen’s career as an economist and faculty member at Northwestern University.

Teaching and Course Materials, boxes 10-30, spans the years 1970-2011. Documentation can be found here regarding courses taught by Mortensen at Northwestern and as a visiting professor at other institutions. This consists primarily of course syllabi and readings lists. The series also includes some department records from Northwestern University’s Department of Economics, as well as dissertations, and some graduate student theses and papers.

Articles and Publications, found in boxes 30-52 and spanning the years 1970-2012, contains papers and articles written by Mortensen during his professional career. These also often include papers written with colleagues. Included as well in this section is a collection of papers referred to as ‘publications for review’. Papers in this section formed a sort of reference collection for Mortensen, although in some cases this would also include drafts of articles sent by colleagues for informal (not blind) review.

Research Materials and Grants are found in boxes 53-55 and range from 1979-2008. Mortensen applied for and administered many grants during his career at Northwestern, particularly for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which are reflected here. Also found here are some small amounts of research data connected with grants received.

Conference Materials are found in boxes 56-59 and span the years 1980-2012. These materials include agendas, papers given, and itineraries for conferences Mortensen attended. Mortensen was particularly involved with the Econometric Society, the Society for Economic Dynamics and Control, and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and his activities at these and other conferences are documented here.

Books are found in boxes 59-72 and span the years 1947-2012. These include titles written by Mortensen and others, and relate to economics and allied subjects. The volumes here represent the contents of Mortensen’s own professional library.

Writings and Notes, boxes 73-74 and 1979-2012, contains research notes, calculations and notes tracking progress of research.

Referee Reports, boxes 74-77 and 1977-2012, contains reports on articles submitted for publication review and assessed anonymously. These papers sometimes contain notes written by Mortensen as the peer reviewer.

Travel materials are found in boxes 78-103, and cover the years 1961-2015. These include travel books related to the many countries Mortensen visited as well as subject files that correspond to these travels, such as correspondence and itineraries. This series includes information related to Mortensen’s travel to Stockholm, Sweden in 2010 to accept the Nobel Prize.

Dale Mortensen’s Born-digital Materials, 1992, 1996-2003, consist of approximately 2.99 gigabytes of files found on Dale Mortensen’s desktop and laptop computers.

Materials documenting Beverly Mortensen and her career are found in boxes 103-138, and contain the following:

Biographical Materials, boxes 103-104 and 1939-1991, contain baby books, family papers and photographs, clippings, correspondence, notes, letter jacket patches, high school papers, and other printed memorabilia; approximately 720 kilobytes of born-digital files span from 1993-1995.

Beverly Mortensen’s Music Career is documented in boxes 105-122 and spans 1939-2002. This series contains scores of music composed by her, along with scores and books of music related to her musical interests and work as choral director at St. Athanasius Church in Evanston, Illinois; approximately 580 kilobytes of born-digital files span from 1991-1997.

Religious Studies Materials, found in boxes 122-138 and spanning 1941-2008, includes bibliographies, notes, books, card files, newsletters, papers, and class notes. These materials document Mortensen’s time as a student, her research interests, and her teaching career; approximately 7.69 megabytes of born-digital files span from 1993-1997.

There is also a collection of materials that document both Dale and Bev Mortensen together, which can be found in boxes 139-170, spanning the years 1947-2010:

Audiovisual Materials, boxes 139-155 and 1947-2012, contains audiotapes and audiocassettes of Beverly Mortensen’s music, both her own compositions and other music. Also found here are slides and films that chronicle the Mortensen family and their travels. Photographic negatives are found here as well, and also document the Mortensen family and travels.

Artifacts, boxes 156-164 and 2005-2010, contain items that include Beverly Mortensen’s floppy disks, Dale Mortensen’s Nobel Prize certificate, the IZA Prize in Labor Economics, his chalkboard (with chalk and eraser), as well as early laptop and desktop computers.

Restricted Materials are contained in boxes 166-171.


  • 1939-2014


Biographical / Historical

Dale Thomas Mortensen was born in Enterprise, Oregon on February 2, 1939, the son of Thomas P. and Verna Ecklund. His father was born in Denmark and worked as a forest ranger after immigrating to the United States. Mortensen attended Willamette University and received a B.A. in economics in 1961. He then completed a Ph.D. in Economics from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1967. In 1963, Mortensen married Beverly Patton, a fellow student at Carnegie Mellon and later a professor in Jewish Studies at Northwestern. They have three children: Karl, Lia and Julie.

He joined Northwestern’s Economics Department in 1965 as an Associate Professor and became a full professor in 1975. In 1980 he became a professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management. He also served as the director of the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Program at Northwestern from 1982-84 and 1992-2000. He was a visiting professor at Cornell University and New York University and also spent four years as a visiting professor at Aarhus University in Denmark (2006 and 2010). Mortensen worked on labor markets and macroeconomic policy throughout his career. He pioneered a new approach to studying labor called search theory. The theory explains why, even in good economic times, unemployed people find it difficult to have work and firms cannot fill vacancies. Mortensen focused on the inefficiencies and life stresses that prevented the unemployed from finding work. His work on labor markets was collated in his 2003 book Wage Dispersion: Why Are Similar Workers Paid Differently.

In 2010, Mortensen won the Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences for his work on search theory along with Peter Diamond of MIT and Christopher Pissarides of the London School of Economics. Mortensen accepted his award in January 2011. Mortensen and Pissarides later published a book about their research in 2011 entitled Job Matching, Wage Dispersion and Unemployment.

Mortensen died of lung cancer in 2014.

Beverly Patton Mortensen was born in Rochester, Minnesota on July 2, 1939. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music and Music Education at Carnegie Mellon University in 1962. Her ensuing music career involved a wide-range of experiences, from being a music teacher, composing original pieces, pursuing a folk music career, and serving as choir director at St. Athanasius Church in Evanston, Illinois. She is now director of the Village Singers, a choral group in Glencoe, Illinois.

Mortensen was also a scholar of ancient Jewish religion, the Hebrew bible, and religious thought; she attended Northwestern University where she completed a PhD program in early Judaism, earning her degree in 1995. She is now an adjunct lecturer in the Religious Studies Department at Northwestern and her course offerings include Finding God, Dead Sea Scrolls, Moses and David: Tabernacle and Temple, and Wisdom Literature. Additional teaching interests include Temple cult and Hebrew bible and New Age thought.

Mortensen has several book publications, including The Priesthood in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Renewing the Profession and Oh Priests, as well as shorter publications regarding Targums, or Aramaic translations of the Hebrew bible. She also serves as the editor for the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies.


1-171 Boxes

8.96 Megabytes

Language of Materials



Dale Mortensen (1939-2014) was an American economist and Nobel laureate, 2010. In 1965 he joined the faculty of Northwestern University and in 1980 became professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at the Kellogg School of Management. Beverly Mortensen (1939- ) is a scholar of music and ancient Jewish religion. The Dale Mortensen and Beverly Papers fills 171 boxes, includes approximately 8.96 megabytes of born-digital files, and spans the years 1939-2014.


The Dale and Beverly Mortensen Papers are organized as follows:

1. Dale Mortensen Papers, 1939-2014
1.1. Biographical Materials, 1939-2014
1.2. Correspondence, 1971-2007
1.3. Teaching and Course Materials, 1975-2012
1.3.1. Courses, 1975-2011
1.3.2. Department Records, 1976-2012
1.3.3. Dissertations, 1980-2011
1.3.4. Student Theses and Papers, 1979-2005
1.4. Articles and Publications, 1963-2012
1.4.1. Papers by Mortensen, 1963-2012
1.4.2. Publications for Review, 1959-2012
1.5. Research Materials and Grants, 1970-2008
1.6. Conference Materials, 1980-2012
1.7. Books, 1947-2012
1.8. Writings and Notes, 1979-2012
1.9. Referee Reports, 1979-2012
1.10. Travel, 1955-2012
1.10.1. Travel Books, 1955-1996
1.10.2. Subject Files, 1951-2015
1.11 Born-digital Materials, 1992, 1996-2003
1.11.1. Laptop computer, circa 1992
1.11.2. Desktop computer, 1996-2003
2. Beverly Mortensen Papers, 1939-2008
2.1. Biographical Materials, 1939-1990s
2.2. Music Career, 1941-2002
2.3. Religious Studies Materials, 1941-2008
2.4 Born-digital Materials, 1988-1997
3. Dale and Beverly Mortensen Papers, 1942-2010
3.1. Audiovisual Materials, 1940-2005
3.2. Artifacts, 1988-2010
4. Restricted Materials, n.d.

Born-digital materials in Series 2 have been integrated through the collection into their corresponding series based on content. In some instances, original order has been retained within file directories while some have been arranged chronologically. Original file names have been maintained with the addition of numerical prefixes to correspond to the container list.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Born-digital files within the collection must be viewed within the reading room during research appointments. All necessary hardware and software will be provided during the appointment to access these materials to the best of our abilities. Available born-digital materials in this collection are delivered to researchers in born-digital formats. Requests for different access methods, such as those not using computers or with the aid of assistive technologies, must be made in advance of a research appointment to Library staff. Contact library staff to make a request to access files virtually and remotely from the reading room.

Custodial History

Born-digital files in this collection were transferred via a write blocker and were disk imaged to extract the content without altering any of its data. Extracted preservation files have undergone a checksum algorithm to allow for future data integrity and authenticity checking and repair according to the Libraries' digital preservation policy.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Beverly Mortensen over a period of years from 2010-2018 and include accessions #10-217, #11-27, #11-28, #11-46, #11-57, #11-195, #14-93, #14-94, #18-196, and #2019-17. The floppy disks from accession #10-217 were donated in 2010 but the files from the floppy disks were extracted in January 2019 to create copies for digital preservation storage.

Separated Materials

Approximately 10 linear feet of duplicate and out-of-scope materials have been removed from the collection

Guide to the Dale Mortensen (1939-2014) and Beverly Mortensen (1939- ) Papers
In Progress
Tristan Jung and Emily Head, 2018. Kelsey O’Connell, 2019.
November, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US