Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Morgan Family Papers, 1834-1913

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, April 2010

Summary Information
Title: Morgan family papers
Creator: Morgan family
Inclusive dates: 1834-1913
Extent: 0.5 linear feet
The Morgan family papers contain the correspondence of three generations of the Morgan family of Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado. Primarily spanning the 1850s and 1880s-1890s, the papers document the Morgans' support for abolition and social reform, as well as their teaching, farming, and business endeavors.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2000, 2001, 2002. M-4107, M-4115.2, M-4137.9, M-4151.1, M-4151.4, M-4163.8, M-4171.3, M-4171.4, M-4243.13.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Morgan Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Morgan family papers are arranged into two series: "Correspondence" and "Documents and Miscellany."


Lewis Morgan was born March 8, 1797, in Fayette, Pennsylvania, the son of Quakers and farmers William and Elizabeth Morgan. In 1820, he married Elizabeth Crozier (1800-1876), and they moved to Stark, Ohio, where they settled on a farm. Lewis Morgan was a staunch abolitionist and served on the Executive Committee of the Western Anti-Slavery Society in the 1840s and 1850s. The couple had six children: Thomas (b. 1823), John (b. 1824), Joshua (b. 1826), Eliza (b. 1828), James (b. 1832), and Susanna (b. 1834).

Four of the six Morgan children became teachers. Joshua migrated to Richland, Iowa, where he taught school, and then later moved to Denver, Colorado. He married Susan Spiker in 1856, and they had three sons. Eliza taught in Marlboro, Ohio, until her marriage to teacher Andrew McGowan and their removal to Orland, Indiana, around 1855. Susan Morgan gave lessons at a women's school in Canton, Ohio, until she married Henry Brooke in 1867. James Morgan also taught briefly, before marrying Mary "Mollie" Belding in 1854, and taking up farming. Thomas Morgan became a carpenter and married Elizabeth Wolf in 1850. They relocated to Union Township, Iowa, several years later. John remained in Stark, Ohio, where he married Elizabeth Pennock in 1848. He worked as a machinist for many years.

The children of Joshua Morgan and Susan Spiker were Charles, Wendell, and Walter Morgan. Charles was born around 1861, and worked as a farmer in Holyoke, Colorado, with his wife, Addie, and daughter, Margaret. Wendell Morgan was born around 1863 and worked as a farmer and in the railroad industry in Nebraska and Colorado. The Morgans' third son, Walter, was born around 1866, but does not appear in the collection.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Morgan family papers consist of 292 letters and 7 documents relating to 3 generations of the Morgan family, primarily in Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado. The collection spans 1834-1913, with most of the items clustered in the 1850s and the 1880s-1890s, with little representation of other decades.

The Morgan siblings wrote nearly all of the approximately 117 letters dating from the 1850s. Their correspondence provides family news, details on their teaching careers, and updates on their health. As the Morgans were very politically and intellectually engaged, they also discussed their opposition to slavery, opinions on various reform issues, and attendance of lectures by such figures as Sojourner Truth (August 25, 1851) and Henry Ward Beecher (January 30, 1856). Eliza Morgan's letters address such topics as bloomers (September 15, 1851: "I can walk faster than ever now and much farther without being tired") and spiritualism (April 18, 1852: "New mediums are being developed constantly all through the country, near and far & some of our nearest neighbors…Milton Maxwell is a shaking medium--that is the spirits can & do shake him [and others too] without his being able to control himself in the least."). Another subject in which the siblings shared an interest was education. Sue Morgan, in particular, wrote of a desire to make it more commonly available: "how much better it is to educate the mass of the people than to confine knowledge to the few[.] if all had an equal chance and were equally educated what a vast amount of suffering and crime might be prevented and Oh what a good leveler would it be to society…" (February 4, 1851).

In the 1880s and 1890s, the most prolific letter writers were Joshua Morgan's sons, Charlie and Wendell. Their letters concern farm life in Colorado and Nebraska, including a boom period for Holyoke, Colorado (March 17, 1888). Sometime during this period, Charlie and Wendell went into business together in Colorado, and this is reflected in their letterhead. The later letters in the collection contain more business-related material and represent more correspondents outside the Morgan family. Many letters (primarily from John Burns and Peter Young) focus on the ongoing care of Celinda Spiker, a relative of Susan Spiker.

Subject Terms

    • Antislavery movements--United States--History--19th century.
    • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887.
    • Canton (Ohio)
    • Education--History--19th century.
    • Farm life--Colorado.
    • Farm life--Nebraska.
    • Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872.
    • Holyoke (Colo.) .
    • Iowa--History.
    • Mediums.
    • Orland (Ind.)
    • Portage County (Ohio)
    • Quakers.
    • Spiritualism.
    • Truth, Sojourner, d. 1883.
    • Western Anti-slavery Society.
    • Women and spiritualism.
    • Women teachers.
    • McGowan, Eliza Morgan, b. 1828.
    • Morgan, Charles, b. ca. 1861.
    • Morgan, John, b. 1824.
    • Morgan, Joshua, b. 1826.
    • Morgan, Susan Spiker.
    • Morgan, Wendell, b. ca. 1863.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    • Financial records.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Correspondence,  1834-1913 and  undated [series] (35 folders) [View selected images of illustrated manuscripts]
    Box   1  
    Documents and Miscellany [series]
    Financial papers,  1837-1911 and  undated
    Business cards and miscellany, undated