MS003: Charles H. Morgan Papers
Scope and Contents
This collection consists primarily of diaries and journals which Mr. Morgan kept, from 1852-1909. Most of the information contained in the diaries relates to Mr. Morgan’s businesses. There are diagrams and drawings of machines, financial and other business records, and descriptions of trips he took. Journal No. 6 is a record of New England soldiers at U. S. Hospital, Turners Lane, in Philadelphia in 1862. Journal No. 56 contained letters and other materials of Mr. Morgan’s, most from the 1880s, which apparently had been sent to him after he left Washburn & Moen. These materials have been removed from the book and placed in folders at the back of Box 3. Journal No. 55 has a few entries, written by someone else after Mr. Morgan’s death. Included in this is a tribute to him related to his church. Some of the journals have inserts, with business information, news articles or poems. While many of the books are diaries, some span several years and were used for lists, addresses, or subject matter related to his businesses. Not all the books are in a strict date order. Box 5 contains correspondence that was removed from the Morgan Construction Company Collection.
- 1852 - 1909
Biographical / Historical
Charles Hill Morgan was born in Rochester, New York January 8, 1831. He grew up in Clinton, Massachusetts and attended Clinton schools and Lancaster Academy. He worked in his uncle's machine shop in Clinton from age 15, focusing on mechanical drawing, mechanics, and increasing his technical skill.
In 1860, he and his brother Francis H. Morgan started a manufacturing company in Philadelphia that produced and supplied paper bags. In 1863, he received a patent for the manufacture of paper bags. Morgan became general superintendent of the wire mills of Washburn & Moen in 1864. He continued with the company for 23 years, eleven of which he was director of the corporation. During his tenure there, he designed the first hydraulic elevator used in New England and he patented automatic reels. He studied steel and wire mills in Europe and implemented these ideas at Washburn & Moen to keep it ahead of similar industries. He founded Morgan Spring Company in 1881, manufacturing steel springs. In 1887, he was hired as a consultant at the American Wire Company in Cleveland, Ohio and continued to invent improvements for the process of making wire. He established the Morgan Construction Company in Worcester, MA in 1888. Morgan Construction manufactured rolling-mill machinery and later wire-drawing and hydraulic machinery.
In 1866, at the suggestion of Ichabod Washburn, Mr. Morgan was elected a trustee of the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science (later Worcester Polytechnic Institute). After Washburn died, Morgan was given responsibility for completing and equipping the Washburn Shops. The Shops were an experiment in technical education and Morgan was credited with much of its success. He was president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1900-1901. He remained a trustee of WPI until his death, January 10, 1911.
Charles Hill Morgan married (first) Harriet C. Plympton, June 8, 1852. She died July 28, 1862. Children with his first wife: Charles Henry and Hiram Plympton (died in infancy). He then married Rebecca Ann Beagary of Philadelphia, PA, August 4, 1863. Children with his second wife: Harriet L., Charlotte, Paul Beagary (succeeded his father as president of Morgan companies), and Ralph Landers.
[Note: biographical information is from The Journal of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Vol. XIV, p. 162-165; Two Towers, by Mildred McClary Tymeson, WPI: 1965, p. 30; Historic Homes & Institutions & Genealogical & Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, by Ellery Bicknell Crane, NY: Lewis Publishing Co., 1907, Vol. 1, p. 105, History of Worcester and Its People, Vol.4, p. 529.]
2 Linear Feet (5 document boxes)
Language of Materials
- Charles H. Morgan Papers
- Jacob Givens and Margaret Anderson
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- May 8, 2019: Revised by Amy Smid. The biographical note was edited with more detail and an addendum (box 5) was added to the inventory.
- March 2020: Revised by Arthur Carlson. Container list updated to reflect new housing for journals.
Part of the WPI Manuscript Collections Repository
100 Institute Rd
George C. Gordon Library
Worcester MA 01609 USA