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Wayne L. Morse papers

Identifier: Coll 001

Scope and Contents note

The collection includes material from 1919 to 1989. However, the bulk of the collection consists of the Senatorial papers, 1944-1968.

In 1960, the Senator's staff adopted a new filing system, so that a particular subject may span different files. A researcher interested in a subject may need to consult several files to be certain of finding everything she wants. For example, an apparently distinct subject such as a political campaign cannot be studied by reference to the Campaign File alone; the speech file, radio and television, and general correspondence files should all be examined for pertinent material. However, the Index File is a nearly complete guide to all correspondents during the Senatorial years; a search for correspondence with specific persons is relatively uncomplicated.


  • Creation: 1919-1989


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Wayne Lyman Morse was born on October 20, 1900 in Verona, Wisconsin, and grew up on his family's farm. He received a degree in labor economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1923, and was awarded a masters degree from the university in 1924. That same year he married Mildred Downie, a high school home economics teacher. While teaching and coaching the debate team at the University of Minnesota, he attended law school. After receiving his LL.B. in 1928, Columbia University awarded him a teaching fellowship and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

The family moved to Eugene in 1929, where Morse took a position as assistant professor of law at the University of Oregon. Nine months later, at 30 years of age, he was named dean of the School of Law. Morse was the youngest law school dean in the country. In 1932 Morse was instrumental in rousing Oregon voters to defeat the Zorn-Macpherson bill, which proposed moving the University's liberal arts curriculum to Oregon State College in Corvallis, and making the University of Oregon a teacher college. Throughout the 1930s, Morse served on numerous state legislative committees. He served as Chairman of the American Bar Association's committee on prisons, probation and parole, and on the Oregon Crime Commission and the Governor's Commission on judicial reform.

Between 1938 and 1944, Morse was appointed arbitrator in a series of labor cases, most of them involving maritime unions. During the same time, Morse also served on the National War Labor Board.

In 1944, Morse stepped down from his post as dean of the School of Law and pursued a seat in the U.S. Senate. His Senate campaign focused on his connection with the people, highlighting his work as a labor arbitrator. He beat incumbent Republican Rufus C. Holman in the primary election, and went on to win the state election by a wide margin over Democratic nominee Edgar W. Smith.

Morse served as U. S. Senator from 1945 to 1969. After defecting from the Republican party in 1952, he sat in a chair in the middle of the Senate aisle to emphasize his independence. He joined the Democrats in 1955, and became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. He was joined only by Alaskan Senator Ernest Gruening in voting against President Johnson's Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. His 24-year career in the U.S. Senate ended when Robert Packwood, a young Republican from Lake Oswego who called Morse's dissent reckless, defeated him in the 1968 election.

Morse's career was the subject of the film The Last Angry Man: The Story of America's Most Controversial Senator, produced by Christopher Houser and Robert Millis (Square Deal Productions, 1999).


Morse for U. S. Senator Committee. "Facts About Wayne Morse." 1944.

Drukman, Mason. Wayne Morse: A Political Biography. Portland, Oregon: The Oregon Historical Society Press, 1997.


1367.5 linear feet (958 containers)

Language of Materials



Wayne Lyman Morse (1900-1974) was a United States Senator from 1945-1969. He was a member of the Labor and Welfare Committee, Armed Services Committee, and Foreign Relations Committee and served as a delegate to the United Nations. The collection contains senatorial papers, 1944-1968, research material, arbitration decisions, speeches, financial material, mementos and personal and general correspondence.

Arrangement note

The collection is organized into the following series:

  1. Series A. General Correspondence File, 1945-1960. A name and subject file of incoming and outgoing correspondence. After 1960 it was replaced by a subject file.
  2. Series B. Subject File, 1961-1968. Incoming and outgoing correspondence; documents and publications, arranged by subject.
  3. Series C. Academy File, 1946-1968. Applications, examination records, appointments to U. S. service academies.
  4. Series D. Post Office File, 1945-1968. Correspondence, documents about post office in general, post masters, postal service.
  5. Series E. Public Works File, 1955-1969. Bureau of Reclamation and Army Engineers projects: dams, flood control, irrigation, reclamation and navigation projects: correspondence.
  6. Series F. Servicemen and Veterans File, 1945-1968. Correspondence on veterans' legislation, pensions, hospitals, and problems of specific veterans.
  7. Series G. Oregon Office File, 1954-1968. Correspondence referred to Oregon office from Washington, D. C. or sent originally to Oregon office for action.
  8. Series H. Bill File, 1945-1968. Bills introduced or cosponsored by Senator Morse. With correspondence and documents.
  9. Series I. Legislative Correspondence File, 1947-1960. Senate and House bills not introduced or sponsored by Senator Morse; reports, hearings, correspondence.
  10. Series J. Departmental Correspondence, 1946-1961. Correspondence with Federal departments and agencies about legislation, policies, aid to constituents.
  11. Series K. Pressure mail, 1947-1968. Bulk mail, largely from organized letter-writing campaigns.
  12. Series L. Robo File, 1954-1968. Bulk mail, with replies in robo-typed form letters.
  13. Series M. Synopsis of Floor Work; Voting Records, 1945-1966. Daily records of action in Senate; Senator Morse's voting record in Senate.
  14. Series N. Campaign Papers, 1944-1968. Correspondence, speeches, financial and other records of political campaigns of Senator Morse, and Morse on behalf of others.
  15. Series O. Speech File, 1922-1968.
  16. Series P. Articles and Statements File, 1945-1966. Magazine articles by and about Senator Morse; statements distributed for mass mailing or special purposes.
  17. Series Q. Radio, Television and Motion Picture File, 1947-1968. Scripts, phono-records, tape recordings, television tapes, motion picture films.
  18. Series R. Employment File, 1948-1968. Office personnel records; files on Federal jobs in Washington, D. C. and elsewhere.
  19. Series S. Pre-Senate Correspondence, 1932-1943; Personal Correspondence, 1944-1951.
  20. Series T. Committees, Commissions, Boards, 1930-1968. Records of official and semi-official appointments and obligations.
  21. Series U. Index to Senatorial Files, 1945-1968.
  22. Series V. Scrapbooks, 1919-1969.
  23. Series W. Miscellaneous Records, 1946-1968. Appointment books; law course notes and lectures; horse records; mementos, photographs.
  24. Addendum - July 1981
    • These bits and pieces of material were found after the main body of Wayne L. Morse Papers had been processed. It is not known whether this material somehow never got sorted into the major collection or if it was received after the main portion of the collection had been processed. This addendum largely consists of correspondence, La Follette research material, arbitration decisions, speeches, financial material, and mementos. The correspondence has been divided into personal and general, according to a previous processing decision. It is arranged alphabetically with the number of letters appearing in parentheses after the name. The speeches and financial material have been arranged chronologically. The last box contains oversize material including artifacts, ledgers, yearbooks of Mildred Morse and two scrapbooks. Original photographs have been removed to the Photograph Collection.
  25. Addendum II - May 1984
    • These files comprising the second addendum to the Wayne L. Morse Papers were found unprocessed and out of place in the stacks. It is believed they were separated from the main collection of papers in the processing stage, but for an unknown reason were never included with that body of material. There is no records of them having been received separately. They consist of promotional material, press clippings and photographs (removed to the Photograph Collection) of the Foreign Relations Committee's Latin American Trip in 1959; invitations, both declined and accepted, arranged chronologically; and personal files.
  26. Addendum III - October 1984
    • These files include correspondence from 1942-1943 and speeches from 1937-1947. Correspondents include Harold Ickes and Franklin Roosevelt, regarding the National War Labor Board. The four speeches are on various topics.
  27. Addendum IV - April 2022
    • These files include accruals to the Morse papers. Materials include correspondence and case files, photographs, audio and visual material, legislative files, publications, newsletters, clippings, and personal papers. Also included is material created by others about Morse, including research files of Michael Fewel and FBI records.

Other Finding Aids note

Inventory of the papers of Senator Wayne L. Morse, 1919-1969 / prepared by Martin Schmitt, curator of Special Collections, Eugene : University of Oregon Library, 1974 : Z6616.M88 O73 1974

General note

The Papers of Senator Wayne L. Morse include material from 1919 to 1969. However, the bulk of the collection consists of the Senatorial papers, 1944-1968.

At various times between 1945 and 1968, Senator Morse sent his non-current files to the National Archives and Records Service for storage. The entire file was received by the University of Oregon Library in 1973 in the form of several record groups, each group representing a shipment to the storage unit.

The task of the Librarian has been to reassemble the parts of the collection and create the file that would have existed had all the records remained in the Senator's office. With some exceptions this has been done.

In 1960 the Senator's staff adopted a new filing system. As a result, practically the entire file begins anew in 1961. In addition, certain specific files, e.g., Academy, Post Office, Public Works, were located in two general files, and sometimes kept as distinct files as well. Such easily identified parts and distinct files were assembled into single units.

A researcher interested in a subject may need to consult several files to be certain of finding everything he wants. Even so apparently distinct a subject as a political campaign cannot be studied by reference to the Campaign File alone; the speech file, radio and television, and general correspondence files should all be examined for pertinent material.

On the other hand, the Index File is a nearly complete guide to all correspondents during the Senatorial years; a search for correspondence with specific persons is relatively uncomplicated.

The use of the Papers of Senator Wayne L. Morse is restricted by agreement with the donor. Persons wishing to use the collection should address the Curator of Special Collections, University of Oregon Library, stating the nature and purpose of their research.

No general microfilming or other reproduction of the collection is permitted or contemplated.


Inventory of the papers of Senator Wayne L. Morse, 1919-1969, prepared by Martin Schmitt and published by the University of Oregon Library in 1974

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Wayne L. Morse papers
Revise Description
Finding aid prepared by Martin Schmitt
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA