Library of Congress > Collections with Manuscripts > Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793-1919

Overview

Approximately 6,500 items from the Samuel F. B. Morse Papers in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress have been digitized, including correspondence, diaries, printed matter, maps, drawings and miscellany. These document Morse's invention of the electromagnetic telegraph, his participation in the development of telegraph systems in the United States and abroad, his career as a painter, his family life, his travels, and his interest in early photography, religion, and the nativist movement. Digital materials date from 1793 to 1919, but most are from 1807 to 1872.

The Archival Collection

The Samuel F. B. Morse Papers are housed in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The Morse Papers were given to the Library of Congress by his son, Edward Lind Morse, and his granddaughter, Leila Livingston Morse, between 1916 and 1944. Other items were added to the papers through purchase and gift between 1922 and 1995.

The Morse Papers consist primarily of correspondence but also include diaries, scrapbooks, clippings, printed matter, maps, drawings, and other miscellaneous materials. These manuscripts span the years 1793 to 1944, but the bulk of the papers dates from 1807 to 1872. The more than 10,000 items document Morse’s life as artist and inventor and highlight his development of the electromagnetic telegraph, his career as a portrait painter, and his interest in the nativist movement.

The Morse Papers are arranged into eight series: General Correspondence and Related Documents; Family Correspondence; Letterbooks; Diaries and Notebooks; Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Newspapers; Printed Matter; Miscellany; and Addition. The collection was microfilmed in 1975 and makes up thirty-five reels. Some materials from the Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Newspapers series as well as the whole Addition series were never microfilmed.

  • General Correspondence and Related Documents, 1793-1877, n.d.
    Family, personal, and business letters sent and received, supplemented by clippings, drawings, contracts and agreements, drafts of writings, notes, and receipts. The letters document Morse's family, his career as an artist, his development of the telegraph, patent lawsuits, scientific exchanges, and politics. Arranged in groupings of bound volumes and unbound letters and chronologically therein.
  • Letterbooks, 1854-1872
    Letterpress copies of letters sent. Most of Morse's outgoing correspondence is found here. Several volumes are indexed. Arranged chronologically.
  • Diaries and Notebooks, 1805-ca. 1840
    Diaries and notebooks describing Morse's European travels and containing sketches and observations on art and architecture. One diary from Morse's youth. Diaries are arranged chronologically and notebooks arranged by subject.
  • Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Newspapers, 1842-1861
    Bound and loose newspaper clippings, newspapers, and broadsides relating to art, the telegraph, and Morse. Grouped by type of material and arranged in approximate chronological order.
  • Printed Matter, 1826-1919
    Books, pamphlets, magazines, and broadsides relating to art, the telegraph, and Morse. Arranged by subject matter.
  • Miscellany, 1830-1855, n.d.
    Correspondence, notes, maps, drawings, broadsides, speeches, telegraph message tape, and other materials.
  • Addition, 1827-1871
    Mostly correspondence from Morse to his brother Sidney and other individuals. Arranged by recipient or sender and then chronologically.

The Online Collection

The online presentation of the Samuel F. B. Morse Papers totals about 6,500 library items, or approximately 50,000 digital images. The Family Correspondence series and some folders from the Miscellany and Printed Matter series were not scanned because they are made up of twentieth-century materials that are outside the time range of Morse’s life and would present copyright problems. Most of the scrapbooks were also omitted because the poor condition of the originals resulted in unacceptable microfilm images: the paste used to affix clippings in scrapbooks has bled through, making the images blotchy, dark, and nearly impossible to read. Twenty-two original letters from the Addition series were digitized in-house at the Library of Congress and included in this online presentation.

Rights and Access

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or holders of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions.

With a few exceptions, which are noted below, the Library is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the materials included in this online presentation. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

Note that the Samuel F. B. Morse Papers in the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division consists of personal papers and other manuscript materials. The Library of Congress received the collection as a series of gifts from descendants of Samuel F. B. Morse and through purchases. Works created by Morse, his family, and other individuals may in some cases be subject to copyright. In many of these cases, we were unable to identify a possible rightsholder and have elected to place these items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. Users are reminded that in all cases responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

  • Correspondence from members of the American Geographical and Statistical Society to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the American Geographical Society, 120 Wall Street, No. 100, New York, New York 10005.
  • American Protestant Society and American and Foreign Christian Union correspondence made available here with permission from the American and Foreign Christian Union, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 2050, New York, New York 10115.
  • Letter from Russell Sturgis, American Institute of Architects, to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006.
  • Correspondence from Louis McLane, President, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from CSX Transportation, Inc.
  • Letter from Baring Brothers to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the Baring Archive, ING Barings, 60 London Wall, London ECZM 5TQ, United Kingdom.
  • Correspondence from Louis Breguet to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Emanuel Breguet, Place Vendôme 20, 75001 Paris, France.
  • Letter from Albert Brisbane to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Abigail Mellen and Michael B. McCrary.
  • Letters from Thomas Cole to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Edith Cole Silberstein.
  • Correspondence from James Fenimore Cooper and Susan F. Cooper to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Henry S. F. Cooper Jr., representing the descendants of James Fenimore Cooper.
  • Letters from Peter Cooper and Abram S. Hewitt made available here with permission from Edward R. Hewitt, c/o Carol Salomon, Archives Librarian, Cooper Union Library, 30 Cooper Square, New York, New York 10003.
  • Ezra Cornell correspondence made available here with permission from Ezra Cornell and Candace E. Cornell, Ithaca, New York.
  • Letter from Erastus Corning to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Erastus Corning III.
  • Letter from Caleb Cushing to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from William A. Barron III, 11 Fairfield Lane, Topsham, Maine 04086; and the Estate of Francis A. Goodhue.
  • Letter from Richard Henry Dana to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from R. W. Dana.
  • Cyrus W. Field correspondence made available here for non-commercial use only with permission from David D. Field.
  • Letters from Alvan Fisher to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Adaline F. Grearson.
  • Letter from Norvin Green to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Norvin Green, 1037 S. Preston Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40203-2733.
  • Letter from James Hall to Reverend Hecker made available here with permission from Clara S. Ailes and Lloyd W. Swift Jr.
  • Letter from A. Hiller, President of the Philophronean Society of Hartwick Seminary, to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York 13820.
  • Letter from Eben Norton Horsford to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Alice H. Fiske, North Ferry Road, Shelter Island, New York 11964.
  • Daniel Huntington correspondence made available here with permission from Eleanor Huntington Remick Seaman.
  • Letter from John Taylor Johnston to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Priscilla de F. Williams.
  • Amos Kendall correspondence made available here with permission from Christy Van Horn.
  • Correspondence from Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, made available here with permission from the Fondation Josée et René de Chambrun, 6 Bis Place du Palais Bourbon, 75007 Paris, France.
  • Letters from Benjamin Henry Latrobe and John H. B. Latrobe to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from John H. Heyrman, 6105 Blackburn Lane, Baltimore, Maryland 21212.
  • Letters from Charles Robert Leslie to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Professor John Twidell, AMSET Centre, Bridgford House, Horninghold, Leicestershire LE16 8DH, United Kingdom. Email: amset@compuserve.com
  • Letter from James Marsh to Sidney Morse made available here with permission from David W. Hall, Gainesville, Florida.
  • Correspondence from the Mechanics Bank of Baltimore to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Allfirst Bank: c/o Ann B. Ray, Chief Public Relations Officer, Allfirst Bank, 25 S. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.
  • Correspondence from The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Archives, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10028.
  • Correspondence from members of the National Academy of Design to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the National Academy of Design, 1083 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10128.
  • Certificate for honorary membership in the New-York Historical Society for Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the New-York Historical Society.
  • Letter from Robert Longbottom, Secretary of the Royal Polytechnic Institution, to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the University of Westminster: University Archivist, University of Westminster, 4-12 Little Titchfield Street, London W1W 7UW, United Kingdom.
  • Correspondence from William Henry Seward to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the Reverend Ray S. Messenger, 420 Woodside Way, Moravia, New York 13118; and Cornelia M. Rogers.
  • Certificate of honorary membership from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences for Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 50005, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Correspondence from Benjamin Silliman and Benjamin Silliman Jr. made available here with permission from James D. English, 99 East Rock Road, New Haven, Connecticut 06511.
  • Letter from Benjamin Mosby Smith to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Dr. A. J. McKelway Jr., P.O. Box 1109, White Stone, Virginia 22578.
  • Letters from Thomas Sully to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from descendants of Thomas Sully: c/o W. Leslie Sully, 2222 Lucerne Court, Henderson, Nevada 89014.
  • Letter from Roger Brooke Taney to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from J. Charles Taney, 9 Hillcrest Lane, Old Greenwich, Connecticut 06870; and Chris Taney, 5609 Amos Reeder Road, Boonsboro, Maryland 21713.
  • Letter from General Solomon Van Rensselaer to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Margaret Knowles, c/o Lori Fischer, Historic Cherry Hill, 523ˆ South Pearl Street, Albany, New York 12202.
  • Letter with resolution from S. M. Buckingham, Secretary of the Executive Committee of Vassar College, to Mrs. Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12604.
  • Correspondence from Western Union Telegraph Company and telegraph companies later acquired by Western Union (U.S. Telegraphs, California State Telegraph Company, and South Western Telegraph Company) made available here with permission from Western Union Holdings, Inc.
  • Letter from Eli Whitney to Jedidiah Morse made available here with permission from Eli Whitney Debevoise II.
  • Letter from Captain Charles Wilkes to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Gilbert Wilkes III, 300 West Martin Street, Martinsburg, West Virginia 25401.
  • Letter from Emma Willard to Samuel F. B. Morse made available here with permission from Dr. Edward Belt.
  • Correspondence and other materials from Lyman Copeland Draper and the State Historical Society of Wisconsin made available here with permission from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 816 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.

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