Skip to main content

Richard C. Morse papers

Identifier: Y.USA.16


Morse's papers include a variety of materials relating to the International Committee of the YMCA: correspondence relating to personnel; reports and speeches on "colored work" (as service to the African American community was referred to at the time), the growth of the YMCA, secretaryship of the YMCA and the International Committee itself. There is also material relating to Morse's interest in the association at Yale University and the construction of Dwight Hall.

Biographical materials include a genealogy book and a series of letters called "Family League letters," detailing his work and travels with the YMCA.

Also included are lecture notes on a variety of YMCA topics, including boys' work, the role of laymen and the International Committee. A manuscript of his autobiography, which he titled "Recollections of Richard C. Morse," later published under the title "My Life with Young Men, " is also included in the collection.

Papers relating to Morse's later career include correspondence regarding his retirement as general secretary; correspondence and reminiscences concerning his work in the war relief effort; correspondence from William A. Hunton (son of the first African-American secretary), thanking Morse for financial support which helped Hunton attend Harvard; and memorials and obituaries on Morse's death.


  • Creation: 1841-1961
  • Creation: Majority of material found within ( 1880-1910).


Language of Materials


Use of Materials:

This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.


Morse was born on September 19, 1841 in Hudson, New York to a distinguished family which included Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph. Graduating from Yale in 1862, he went on to further education at Princeton and the Union Theological Seminary. In 1867 he joined the staff of the New York Observer, a religious weekly which his father had founded. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1869 and entered work in the YMCA as an editor and publisher of the Association News. In 1872 he became general secretary of the YMCA's Executive Committee, which became the International Committee in 1879. Holding this position until 1915, Morse (working closely with Cephas Brainerd and Robert McBurney) oversaw growth from a few associations to over two thousand. He was also one of the original members of the World's Committee from 1878 to 1888. He was active in the New York City association, including serving on its committee of management for the railroad branch (Morse and McBurney had established a railroad branch in New York City in 1873).

In 1915 Morse resigned as the general secretary of the International Committee and was succeeded by John Mott. Although Morse was offered a pension, he continued in active service of the International Committee under the title of Consulting General Secretary. He did war relief work in France during World War I, for which he was made and honorary American Secretary of the World's Committee.


2.8 Cubic Feet (7 boxes)


Papers of Morse's fifty year tenure as general secretary with the YMCA. Includes information on the Morse family genealogy.

Note on Language in the Collection and this Guide

Please note that some of the descriptive language found in this collection guide reflects and re-uses the words and ideas of the people and organizations that created the material. Historical records represent the opinions and actions of their creators and the society in which they were produced. This historical language was retained in cases where we believe it provides important context about the materials, is a Library of Congress Subject Heading, or is the official title of an item, organization, or event. As such, please be aware that this material and the guide describing it contains racial and other language and/or imagery that is outdated, offensive and/or harmful.

Processing Information:

Material in this collection was formerly cataloged as part of the YMCA Biographical Files.

Processed by: Chan Harries, September 2004.

Catalog Record ID number: 4458213

An Inventory of His Papers
Finding aid prepared by Chan Harries
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2021-12-28: Revision statement: Language was edited slightly to clarify that the outdated term "Colored" is being quoted from the original sources and included here for historical reasons. A content warning note was also added regarding language that was retained and may be found in the collection material.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area