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A Guide to the Arthur E. Morgan Papers

Finding aid created by Scot R. Cruickshank

Digitization funded with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
December 2011

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Morgan, Arthur Ernest, 1878-1975
Title: Arthur E. Morgan Papers
Dates: 1912-1954
Abstract: Papers relating to Morgan's work as a civil engineer and to the Dayton Morgan Engineering Company's various water control projects throughout Florida, in particular to drainage of the Everglades.
Extent: 0.8 Linear feet. 2 boxes.
Identification: MS 237
Language(s): English
Online Content Items from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

Arthur Ernest Morgan (1878-1975) was the first chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority engineering projects from 1933-1938. Morgan also led the Miami (Ohio) Conservancy District in a mammoth pioneer reconstruction program after the disastrous flood of 1913. He went on to become the President of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, serving from 1920-1936 while still working actively on engineering projects around the country. Morgan also was a writer well into his nineties and past the point of physical blindness. He is the author of: The Making of the TVA, Dams and Other Disasters: A Century of the Army Corps of Engineers in Civil Works, The Community of The Future and The Future of Community, and Nowhere was Somewhere: How History Makes Utopias and Utopias Make History.

In 1912 when Morgan was employed in the office of Drainage Investigations in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.s. House of Representatives opened hearings to investigate the USDA's involvement in promoting land sales in the Everglades. In 1909, a preliminary report on the feasibility of draining and reclaiming land in the Everglades had been prepared by USDA employee, James Wright, who concluded that the Everglades could be drained fairly easily and inexpensively. The facts and conclusions presented in the Wright report were extremely unsound, but the USDA officially approved the report anyhow. The land companies in Florida were able to use the USDA report as propaganda to spur real estate sales in South Florida. As part of the 1912 investigation Morgan analyzed the Wright report and testified before a Congressional committee that the report was seriously flawed and that the USDA had acted inappropriately in approving it. Morgan's expert testimony during the investigation refuted the claims that draining the Everglades would be easy, thereby causing the boom in land sales to slow down temporarily.

Source: Arthur E. Morgan, The Making of the TVA, (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, 1974), 49.

Scope and Content

The Morgan Papers include correspondence, photographs, new clippings, magazine articles, pamphlets, reports, and other documents related to drainage of the Everglades and the 1912 Congressional investigation of the Wright report. The collection spans 1912 to 1954 and covers subjects such as flood control, drainage districts, dredging, and land reclamation. Of particular interest is a portion of an unpublished 1954 autobiography, in which Morgan describes the 1912 investigation and provides his analysis and opinions about proposed drainage operations. In addition, there are engineering materials (including photo negatives) related to the Dayton-Morgan Engineering Company's various water control projects throughout the state of Florida. Also included is a copy of a Florida State Senate bill that was prepared in collaboration with Morgan.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

Additional material relating to Arthur E. Morgan can be found in the Arthur E. Morgan Papers housed in the Archives and Special Collections Department of Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio. The finding aid for this collection is available at: For additional materials pertaining to drainage efforts in the Everglades, consult the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Papers, the William Sherman Jennings Papers, the May Mann Jennings Papers, and the Thomas E. Will Papers.

Administrative Information

Alternate Form of Material

Items in the Arthur E. Morgan collection have been digitized for America's Swamp: The Historical Everglades project, which is generously supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). In addition to the links that are provided throughout this guide to the collection, all materials can be browsed at the Arthur E. Morgan page in the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please note the majority of items in this collection are not described individually. Therefore, it is not possible to search for a specific item (e.g., a letter written by a particular author). Instead, the digital collection is best accessed by selecting a folder title and browsing the images contained in each folder. Materials in the collection are also available on microfilm. See reel 145 D, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Arthur E. Morgan Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History by Arthur E. Morgan.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Drainage -- Florida -- Everglades.
Everglades (Fla.)
Real estate development -- Florida.
Water resources development -- Florida.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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