Areas of Study

Collection of the Morse Family, 1815-1892

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 21
Title: Collection of the Morse Family
Quantity: 0.5 Linear Feet (1 document box)
Note: This document last updated 2006 January 5.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information:Edward Milas donated the Morse family collection to the Gallaudet University Archives in 1991.
Processed by: Ulf Hedberg. 1989 December 1.
Processing Note:
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.

Related Material in the Archives


Historical Sketch

Samuel Finley Breese Morse, was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was the son of Jedidiah Morse, a well known pastor. He attended Yale College. Although he was indifferent about his studies, he was fascinated by lectures on the emerging study of electricity.

In 1825, Morse moved to New York to pursue his passion in painting, an art he studied in England. He received much acclaim and became a much respected painter.

Morse became fascinated at the possibility of an electric telegraph. He struggled with the idea and financial backing and eventually invented what is popularly referred to world wide as Morse Code.

In 1848 he made his cousin his second wife, she was described at deaf and dumb. They had several children together. Morse, financially stable, was very generous, donating money to several colleges and organizations. He died of pneumonia on April 2, 1872 at the age of 80.

Scope and Content

The Morse Family Collection includes materials related to his inventions, and some personal correspondence between members of the Morse Family. The collection dates from 1815 to 1892 and consists of 49 items.

The majority of the papers are dated during the 1880’s. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, descriptions & drawings of inventions, patents, and patents filed.

In this collection there is no information related to deafness, with the exception of one letter in which Samuel F. B. Morse mentions that his second wife, Sarah Elizabeth Griswold was deaf. She studied at and graduated from the New York Institution for the Deaf in 1833.

Series Descriptions and Folder Lists

No. Series
Box Folder Title of Folder Date
1 1 Correspondence from the Morse Family 1815-1866
1 2 Correspondence to Samuel F. B. Morse 1885-1890
1 3 Descriptions of Inventions 1884-1888
1 4 Drawings of Inventions 1885
1 5 Morse Society 1892
1 6 Patents 1885-1889
1 7 Patents Filed 1880-1888
1 8 Receipts 1882-1889
1 9 Miscellaneous 1885-1892

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