Wayne L. Morse papers , 1919-1989

Overview of the Collection

Morse, Wayne L. (Wayne Lyman), 1900-1974
Wayne L. Morse papers
1919-1989 (inclusive)
1367.5 linear feet, (958 containers)
Collection Number
Coll 001
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.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

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.

Additional Reference Guides

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

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

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.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

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.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Legislators--United States
  • Politicians--Oregon

Personal Names

  • Hatfield, Mark O., 1922-2011
  • Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
  • Morse, Wayne L. (Wayne Lyman), 1900-1974
  • Neuberger, Richard L. (Richard Lewis), 1912-1960

Corporate Names

  • United States. Congress. Senate

Geographical Names

  • Oregon
  • Oregon--Politics and government