- Guggenheim Fellow (1963)
William B. Edgerton obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Guilford College in 1934, a Master of Arts from Haverford College in 1935, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University in 1954. From 1935 to 1939, he taught English, French, German, and Spanish in secondary schools in the U.S. and France. He moved on to higher education as a faculty member in French and Spanish at Guilford College from 1939 to 1947. He was then a faculty member in Russian literature at Pennsylvania State University from 1950 to 1956, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1954 to 1955, and at Columbia University from 1956 to 1958. He began at IU Bloomington in 1958 as a professor of Slavic languages and literatures. He served as the chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures from 1958 to 1965 and again from 1969 to 1973. He was the acting director of the Russian and East European Institute for the 1981-1982 academic year. He retired from IU in 1983 and was named professor emeritus of Slavic languages and literatures. He, however, continued teaching at IU into 1987.
Edgerton's many accomplishments include the founding of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies; he was also the first president. He was an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow in 1949 and 1951 and was a consultant for the Ford Foundation from 1952 to 1961. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Slavic literature in 1963 and was awarded a Ford Foundation Research Grant for 1965-1966. He was the general editor on the second edition of the Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature in 1977-1978. He was also a member of the Joint Commission on Slavic Studies (chairman, 1958-1961) and the recipient of the Josef Dobrovsky Medal from the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1968.
Edgerton passed away in Bloomington, Indiana, on February 8, 2004.