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Collection Number RG1013.AM
Collection Name RG1013 Morton, Julius Sterling, 1832-1902
Identifier Political papers
Size and Materials 38 boxes; oversized volumes and folders; 81 reels of microfilm
Title Julius Sterling Morton papers
Date or Date Span 1814-1960; mostly 1832-1902
Year Range from 1814
Year Range to 1960
Admin/Biographical History Julius Sterling Morton was born in Adams, Jefferson County, New York, on April 22, 1832, the eldest of the three children of Julius Dewey and Emeline Sterling Morton. In 1850 he entered the University of Michigan and subsequently received a degree from both Michigan and Union College in Schenectady, New York. Morton was married on October 30, 1854, to Caroline Joy French of Detroit, Michigan. This union produced four sons, Joy, Paul, Mark and Carl.

Morton migrated to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 and spent his first winter at Bellevue. He subsequently moved to Nebraska City where he became editor of the Nebraska City News. He embarked upon an active political career and was elected to, but not seated in, the first Territorial Legislature, then served in the second and fourth sessions of that body. He was Secretary of the Territory from April 1858 to May 1861, and served concurrently as Acting Governor from December 1858 to May 1859. In 1860 Morton made an unsuccessful bid for Congress, and was defeated in the gubernatorial election of 1866. For a time he withdrew from active participation in politics and concentrated his efforts on railroad promotion and the development of his farm near Nebraska City, but was again a candidate for governor in 1882, 1884, and 1892. Because of Morton's knowledge of agriculture and his faithful political support, President Grover Cleveland appointed him Secretary of Agriculture in 1893. In 1897 Morton left a successful administration behind him and returned to Arbor Lodge in Nebraska City, where he spent his remaining days editing his newspaper, The Conservative, and compiling a history of Nebraska. He died in Lake Forest, Illinois, on April 27, 1902, at the home of his son, Mark.
Level of description Fonds/Coll
Scope & Content This collection consists of original papers, microfilm, and oversized scrapbooks relating to the life and activities of Julius Sterling Morton, including materials relating to his early education; family history; political, agricultural and business activities; and to his writing, research, and publishing career. Also present are papers relating to Arbor Lodge and Arbor Day. The collection is arranged in two Subgroups comprising a total of twenty-one Series:


SERIES 1: Incoming Correspondence, 1849-1902
SERIES 2: Incoming and Outgoing Correspondence, 1850-1902
SERIES 3: Outgoing Correspondence, Bound Letterpress books, 1874-1902
SERIES 4: Farm Journals and Diaries, 1850-1902
SERIES 5: Scrapbooks, 1880-1902
SERIES 6: Outgoing Family Correspondence, 1854-1900, undated


SERIES l: Financial Records, 1855-1902, undated
SERIES 2: Legal and Land Documents, and Commissions, 1814-1902, undated
SERIES 3: Judicial Court Material, 1876-99, undated
SERIES 4: Political and Governmental Material, c.1839-1934, undated
SERIES 5: Speeches, Addresses and Writings, c. 1850-1956, undated
SERIES 6: Morton's Spout Magazine, 1942-47
SERIES 7: Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1827-1910, undated
SERIES 8: Letter Notes, 1850-1901, undated
SERIES 9: Biographical Information and Family Material, c. 1830-1960, undated
SERIES 10: Arbor Lodge Materials, 1888-1947, undated
SERIES 11: Materials Relating to Joy Morton's Work Toward Arbor Lodge and Arbor Day, 1862-1939, and undated
SERIES 12: Overland Opera Theater and Other Family Businesses, 1896-1903
SERIES 13: Invitations Extended to Julius Sterling Morton, undated
SERIES 14: Historical Societies, 1917-60, undated
SERIES 15: Miscellany, 1859-1932, undated

Subgroup 1 consists of the papers of Julius Sterling Morton as arranged and microfilmed by the Nebraska State Historical Society under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, 1965 to 1967. The Nebraska State Historical Society houses both the originals and the microfilm copies; researchers may consult both. Some items filed in this subgroup were not filmed, and are so noted in this inventory. Also, after the microfilming was completed, some documents in this subgroup were added or rearranged so that some filmed items may have been moved to locations other than those in which they were filmed, while some items filed among the original documents might not be found on the microfilm at all. Therefore, when using materials in Subgroup 1, researchers should consult both the microfilm and the original documents. A detailed description of Subgroup 1 as it exists on microfilm can be found in the published Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the J. Sterling Morton Papers 1849-1902, and researchers should refer to this when using the microfilm. A brief synopsis follows here:

Subgroup 1, Series 1 consists of microfilmed incoming correspondence. Reel #1 of the microfilm contains an index of correspondents. Some subjects included in the correspondence are:

* Morton's years at the University of Michigan.
* Morton's early political career including his role as Secretary of State, Acting Governor, and Secretary of the Territory.
* Morton's business and agricultural interests.
* Morton's work with the Burlington and Missouri Railroads.
* Family letters relating to the death of his wife, Caroline Joy, and his son, Carl.
* Correspondence about family business interests.
* Morton's appointment as Secretary of Agriculture by President Grover Cleveland.
* Publishing of The Conservative.

Subgroup 1, Series 2 is composed of both incoming and outgoing correspondence relating to Morton's activities as Acting Governor of the Nebraska Territory, Secretary of Agriculture, and editor of The Conservative.

Subgroup 1, Series 3 is composed of outgoing correspondence bound in sixty-one letter pressbooks. All of the pressbooks were microfilmed with the exception of three (so noted in the inventory). Not all of the pressbooks are housed together; some are stored in Subgroup 2. Subjects in the correspondence are wide-ranging, but major topics include:

* Morton's business and agricultural interests.
* Morton's lobbying for the railroad.
* Morton's family interests.
* Operation and inquires about Arbor Lodge.
* Secretary of Agriculture business pertaining to patronage, currency, etc.

Subgroup 1, Series 4 contains diaries and farm journals. Early diaries include Morton's experiences at the University and his business affairs. Later diaries reveal expenses incurred on business and personal trips, for personal and farming equipment and supplies, and real estate. The farm journals were maintained by Morton, his wife Caroline, his sons, and later, by his sister, Emma. They relate to farm and other business ventures, such as real estate, railroad lobbying, mining claims in New Mexico, political involvement at the Democratic state and national conventions, speaking engagements, and guests at Arbor Lodge.

Subgroup 1, Series 5 is composed of 35 scrapbooks. They contain newspaper clippings about Morton's political activities from 1887 to 1902. The clippings start with his appointment as Secretary of Agriculture and include materials on his advocacy of civil service and the gold standard, his administration and the dividing line in the Democratic Party over the free silver issue, and the presidential campaigns of 1896 and 1900.

Subgroup 1, Series 6 contains correspondence written by Morton to his four sons, Joy, Mark, Paul and Carl; to his wife, Caroline; and to his sister, Emma. The correspondence concerns the welfare of the Morton family, and business and personal activities of the Morton men and women. While this series contains the bulk of such correspondence, researchers should also consult Subgroup 2, Series 7: Miscellaneous Correspondence.

Subgroup 2 consists of Morton family papers that have not been microfilmed. A brief synopsis follows:

Subgroup 2, Series 1 is composed mainly of tax receipts, canceled checks, receipts, and vouchers. The financial records are of a personal nature.

Subgroup 2, Series 2 consists of legal documents such as the many different types of insurance policies Morton acquired, and records relating to land and business acquisitions. Also included are commissions received by Morton from various organizations.

Subgroup 2, Series 3 contains records and court proceedings from various court cases in Illinois and Nebraska.

Subgroup 2, Series 4 is comprised of political documents, including memoranda for cabinet meetings, pamphlets, advertisements and agendas on the topic of agriculture, as well as loose newspaper clippings and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings.

Subgroup 2, Series 5 contains writings and speeches by J. Sterling Morton, William Jennings Bryan, Joy Morton, Sterling Morton, et al. Newspaper clippings of speeches, and other miscellany are also present.

Subgroup 2, Series 6 contains magazines produced by Morton's sons.

Subgroup 2, Series 7 includes additional unfilmed J. Sterling Morton correspondence as well as correspondence of other family members.

Subgroup 2, Series 8 consists mostly of pieces of 4" X 6" paper containing notes that served as reminders to Morton of what he needed to accomplish, write, etc.

Subgroup 2, Series 9 contains Morton genealogical records dating back to 1668, including scrapbooks, obituaries and eulogies of Morton and Morton descendants.

Subgroup 2, Series 10 contains records of visitors to Arbor Lodge, and newspapers clippings, pamphlets and invitations relating to Arbor Lodge and its founder.

Subgroup 2, Series 11 deals primarily with the correspondence and financial records of Joy Morton, and of the Overland Real Estate Company through which he acquired land in both Chicago, Illinois and Nebraska City, Nebraska. He gave the land to the states as a gift in memory and honor of his father. The series includes correspondence, land contracts, real estate contracts, financial records and blueprints. They mostly relate to Arbor Lodge and Arbor Day.

Morton family business correspondence can be found in Subgroup 2, Series 12. J. Sterling Morton and sons, Joy and Mark, worked to build the Overland Opera Theater in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Other businesses in which the family was involved were the Morton Salt Company, real estate, railroad companies, stock yards, and a printing company. Materials in this series include correspondence and financial records from the various family businesses.

Subgroup 2, Series 13 is comprised of invitations and name cards from balls, weddings, inaugural ceremonies, opening ceremonies, commencement exercises, etc., attended by Morton or to which he was invited.

Subgroup 2, Series 14 consists of miscellaneous information gathered upon the collection's acquisition by the Nebraska State Historical Society.

The miscellaneous series, Subgroup 2, Series 15, is composed of portions of scrapbooks, organizational materials, memorial leaflets, programs and other ephemera.
Creator Morton, Julius Sterling, 1832-1902
Access Conditions The J. Sterling Morton microfilm is available for Interlibrary Loan.
Finding Aids J. Sterling Morton finding aid.

J. Sterling Morton Guide to Microfilm.
Related units of description See the photo [RG1013.PH] and audio [RG1013.AU] components for related materials.

See the Nebraska History Index and the NSHS Library for published materials relating to J. Sterling Morton and the Morton family.
Subjects Agriculture
Business & finance
Government officials
Political activity
Political campaigns
Political elections
Politics & government
People Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
Furnas, Robert Wilkinson, 1824-1905
Miller, George L., 1830-1920
Morton, Carl, 1865-1901
Morton, Caroline Joy French, 1833-1881
Morton, Emma, 1837-1912
Morton, Joy, 1855-1934
Morton, Julius Sterling, 1832-1902
Morton, Mark, 1858-1951
Perkins, Charles Elliott, 1840-1907
Sawyer, Andrew J., 1844-1924
Vifquain, Victor
Watkins, Albert, 1848-1923
Search Terms Agriculture -- Nebraska
Arbor Day
Arbor Lodge (Nebraska City, Neb.)
Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company
Democratic party
Gold standard
Morton family
Nebraska -- Politics and government
Nebraska City (Neb.) -- History
Nebraska Mexican Mining Company
Nebraska State Board of Agriculture
Patronage, Political -- United States
Railroads -- United States
Santa Fe Railroad
Silver question
Tariff -- United States
Tree planting -- Nebraska
United States -- Politics and government