Morton Keller is Professor Emeritus in History and a scholar of American legal history. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 1, 1929 and earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1950. Keller then attended Harvard University, where he received an M.A. in 1952 and Ph.D. in 1956. During that period, he also served as a commissioned officer in the U. S. Navy (1953-1956). Keller married Phyllis Daytz on September 7, 1951, and they have two children, Robin and Jonathan.
In 1958, Keller took his first academic position as an instructor in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After two years there, he went to the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant (1958-1962) and then Associate (1962-1963) Professor. Keller spent the 1963-1964 school year as a visiting lecturer in History at Harvard before taking a job at Brandeis the following fall. He remained at Brandeis for the rest of his career, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2001. During his time at Brandeis, Keller also held visiting appointments at the University of Sussex (spring 1968), Yale University (fall 1968), and the University of Oxford (1980-1981). Keller taught many courses on United States history, political history, legal history, and the state in the Western world.
Professor Keller's scholarly work focused on legal history, especially the period of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. He has written or edited 15 books, including: In Defense of Yesterday: James M. Beck and the Politics of Conservatism (1958); The Life Insurance Enterprise, 1885-1910: A Study in the Limits of Corporate Power (1963); The Art and Politics of Thomas Nast (1968); Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America (1977); Congress, Parties, and Public Policy (1985); Regulating a New Economy: Public Policy and Economic Change in America, 1900-1933 (1990); and Regulating a New Society: Public Policy and Social Change in America, 1900-1933 (1994).
Keller has received many awards and fellowships, including: a Guggenheim Fellowship (1959-1960); SSRC Research Award (1959-1960); ACLS Fellowship (1967-1968); Charles Warren Center Fellowship (1967-1968); NEH Senior Fellowship (1974-1975); honrorary degree from Oxford (1980); Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellowship (1980-); NEH Constitutional Fellowship (1986-1987); a major grant from the Spencer Foundation (1955-1998); and the Littleton-Griswold Prize in American Legal History (1995).
Keller remains an active scholar. In 2001, he and his wife, Phyllis, published Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University. In 2007, Keller published America's Three Regimes: A New Political History.