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Samuel F.B. Morse Papers

Call Number



1838-1984, undated, inclusive


Morse, Samuel Finley Breese, 1791-1872
Still, Bayrd


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

Materials are primarily in English.

Biographical/Historical note

Samuel F.B. Morse was born in Charlestown, Mass., April 27, 1791. He began his association with the University of the City of New York (now New York University) at age 41. By this time he had an established reputation as an artist. Morse founded the National Academy of Design and presided over it since its inception in 1826. He lectured widely on art from 1826 to 1829. Morse left for Europe in 1829 and returned to New York in October, 1832. Within days he was appointed Chair of Sculpture and Painting at the University.

When the University Building on Washington Square opened in 1835, Morse rented space there for lodgings and to house a studio and laboratory for his experiments in photography and telegraphy. Morse left the University Building in 1841 but continued his association as professor of fine arts until his retirement in 1871. Although Morse's connection with the University has been described as "nominal," he maintained close contact with certain faculty members and emphasized his professorial connection. He died April 2, 1872, in New York.


The collection is arranged at the folder level by subject.

Scope and Contents

The Samuel F.B. Morse Collection contains inventories of letters from and about Morse; biographical summaries; papers relating to his career as an artist; his association with the University of the City of New York (now New York University); the invention of the telegraph and exhibitions thereof; and his experiments with photography. The collection also includes information on his will and his funeral; the Morse Plaque, which was placed on Main Building at NYU; the centennial celebration of his invention of the telegraph in 1944; the Morse Medal; and information concerning the Morse Telegraph Club, Inc.

The collection comprises one document box of material that serves as the primary reference file for the Archives staff on Morse. Additional material on Morse in the New York University Archives consists of nine letters in the Chancellors' Records, 1827-1885 (RG 3.0.1), newspaper reports on an address to the University alumni in 1853, and monographs about Morse.

The Samuel F.B. Morse Collection includes an essay on Morse and his association with New York University by Gary Reynolds, former curator of the Grey Art Gallery at NYU, that appeared in the catalog prepared for the Samuel F.B. Morse exhibition at New York University, September 14 to October 23, 1982; a folder listing of the Morse Collection; and a bibliography of works on Morse in the New York University Archives.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known), Samuel F.B. Morse Papers; MC 10, box number, folder number, New York University Archives, New York University Libraries.

Separated Materials

NYU's Fales Library contains 24 letters written by Morse between 1822 and 1870 (see Folder 1 of Morse Collection for inventory).

Collection processed by

Bayrd Still and Tom Frusciano. Electronic version prepared by Jackie Rider.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:48:40 -0400.
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.


New York University Archives
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012