The Life of Senator Robert Morgan

Senator Morgan attending the presentation of a new Wind Generator

Source: Robert Morgan Papers #268

Staff Person: Sherry Cortes

Description: Senator Robert Morgan was a North Carolina native, born and raised in Lillington, N.C.  This collection contains personal papers, Senatorial documents, newspapers, photographs and correspondence spanning Morgan’s life.

Senator Robert Morgan was born in Lillington, North Carolina in 1925.  Following his public school education, he went on to attend the Wake Forest Law School, became a skilled trial lawyer and quickly rose from Clerk of Court to the position of President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina State Senate.  He began donating his papers to East Carolina University in the mid-1970s and continuously donated his personal and professional works until he passed away in 2016.  I started working on the Senator Robert Morgan Papers Processing Project in April, 2017 for East Carolina University’s Joyner Library.  As the project archivist for this collection, it has been an exciting opportunity to chronicle the life and accomplishments of such a prominent figure in North Carolina history.  Senator Morgan served as a North Carolina State Senator from 1955-1969, and as a one-term US Senator from North Carolina from 1975-1981, but his prolific career beyond the political arena put a mark on so much of the State’s history.

The Robert Morgan Papers is the largest collection of personal and professional documents amassed by East Carolina University and is currently housed in the Special Collections Division of Joyner Library at East Carolina University (ECU).  The collection holds information regarding the Senator’s professional and personal life.  The Morgan archives chronicle his service in the Vietnam and Korean Wars, his rise to North Carolina Attorney General and his role in creating landmark consumer protection measures, his tenure as an ECU University Trustee and his fight to establish a medical school at East Carolina University, his controversial stance on the Panama Canal, his leading role in the Energy Crisis, and his repositioning of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).  These documents also shed light on his ideological metamorphosis from a “traditional Southern Democrat” to the national Democratic mainstream particularly in the area of desegregation.

Senator Morgan’s Papers include personal and family documents, legislative and campaign files, correspondence, North Carolina Attorney General and U.S. Senator files, ECU Board of Trustees and State Bureau of Investigations files.  Photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, speeches, books, films, audiotapes, diaries, microfilms and oversized materials are in our archives as well.  We hired two graduate assistants in May, 2017, Daniel Hemme and Martha Mihich who have been invaluable in completing the description and arrangement of the collection.  In addition to the graduate assistants, Special Collection Curator, Dr. Jonathan Dembo and volunteer Dick Wolfe have been helping to move the process along quickly.  Between the four of us we have currently completed describing 1012 boxes of the 1075 total in the collection.  I am also collaborating with Justin Borer to help in the digitization of audio tapes, manuscripts and photographs of interest.  Conservator Lawrence Houston has been providing conservation advice and assistance in handling damaged or fragile documents. We are all working as quickly as possible to digitize the chosen objects so they can be fully accessible in the online Digital Repository.

Once we have fully completed the processing of the paper and digital elements of the collection we will work on the exhibit which will be available for viewing on the 3rd floor of Joyner Library in

Graduate Assistant, Martha Mihich, hard at work

early 2018.  As work continues, we will be sharing updates about our progress on an ongoing basis and what we are finding.  There will be future posts to provide more information about Senator Morgan and some of the interesting items we find during processing.  Researchers will be able to locate the collection’s finding aid online if they are interested in accessing Senator Morgan’s Papers.

For more information on Senator Morgan’s Papers and the continuing progress of the project, please contact Sherry Cortes, Project Archivist at or (252) 328 – 0276

Chart of Beaufort Harbor, 1857

Source: North Carolina Map Collection, NCC Maps G3902 B42 P5 1857 U67

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description: This chart was part of a large survey done by the Hydrographic Office of the U.S. Navy just prior to the Civil War. The survey was conducted by Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867) Superintendent, and under the local supervision of John Newland Maffitt (1819-1886). Using these charts Maffitt, later in the Confederate Navy, was known as the “Prince of the Privateers” for his extraordinary success as a blockade runner and commerce raider. Maffitt also commanded the CSS Albemarle which dominated the Roanoke River for a time during the war. Of special interest on this chart is Carolina City, NC which was a rival to a development to the east by John Motley Moreland called Shepard’s Point. Both developments were merged into Morehead City. For more information on Carolina City please visit:


1706 Van der Aa Map of North Carolina


Source: Zee en Land togten der Franszen Geaan na,en in’t Americaans Gewest van Florida (MC 49)

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description: This 1706 map of the Carolinas and Florida drawn by Pieter van der Aa (1659-1733)  is based on an earlier 1606 map by Hondius (see MC 42). The map features a North Carolina Native American town called Chicola on the River Jordaan. Also shown are the locations of the ill fated French settlements of 1562 (Ribaut) and 1564 (Laudonierre). The lower right cartouche features a really neat early European drawing of the Carolina Palmetto (Sabal Palmetto). The title of the map Zee en Land togten der Franszen na,en in’t Americaans Gewest van Florida, aller-eerst dour Joh. Pontius ontdekt,  translates as the land of France in America along with the discoveries of Ponce de Leon.

Virginiae partiis australis, et Floridae partis orientalis, interjacentiumq[ue] regionum nova description

Source: Virginiae partis australis, et Floridae partis orientalis, interjacentiumq[ue] regionum nova description, by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Amsterdam, J. and C. Blaeu, 1640; Special Collections Map Collection #2.3

Virginiae partis australis, et Floridae partis orientalis, interjacentiumq[ue] regionum nova descriptio.. by Willem Janszoon Blaeu

Virginiae partis australis, et Floridae partis orientalis, interjacentiumque regionum nova descriptio.. by Willem Janszoon Blaeu

Staff Person: Ralph Scott


This map, part of Blaeu’s Le Thé&acirctre dv Monde, ou Novvel Atlas (Amsterdami, 1638, II 1640) plate 28-29, is based on the 1606 Hondius map, but according to William E. Cumming, “incorporates new geographical knowledge.” Specifically the 1640 map shows South Carolina more accurately and changes the shape of the Chesapeake Bay “from a small bay to its proper shape.” This is the first time Jamestown and many local Virginia Indian villages are shown on European maps. The more correct latitude of “Coft Feare” [Cape Fear] at 34° North replaces the incorrect 32° North shown by Hondius on his earlier map. The North Carolina sounds, especially Pamlico, have additional information collected by English explorers. Some of these new names were not retained in later usage, but the map demonstrates that European readers were interested in the latest information from the new world. A “P. Grinfeld” [Port Grenville] is noted as being perhaps near the current location of New Bern in Pamlico Sound. Cummingts further notes that “this [map] is the most correct map of this area yet to appear,” and was a key representation of the Carolinas through the end of the 17th century. Students of cartography often compare this map with the depiction of the North Carolina coast shown on the 1733 Moseley Map.

Special Collections Map Collection #MC0002.003 [Currently framed and on display in the Rare Book Room]

Bermuda Map

Source: Mappa Aestivarum Insularum alias Barmudas dictarum [Bermuda map], Special Collections Map Collection MC0035

Staff Person: Ralph Scott


Mappa Aestivarum Insularum alias Barmudas dictarum [Bermuda map.] Amstelodami [Amsterdam,] Apud Henricum Hondium [Henry Hondius,] ca.1633?{some sources give date as 1621} 33 x 51 cm. Scale: 1:70,000. Special Collections Map Collection MC0035, Purchase, State Appropriated Funds, 2008.

Bermuda was discovered by the Europeans probably around 1503 and was included in Spanish charts as early as 1511. The island was named in honor of its supposed discoverer Juan de Bermudez. For around the next 100 years the island was visited by passing Portuguese and Spanish vessels looking for water. In 1609 the flagship of a Virginia Company fleet, the Sea Venture on a rescue mission to Jamestown, was wrecked on the island, leaving the English in control. This shipwreck is reported to have formed the basis for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Bermuda at first passed to control of the Virginia Company and later in 1615 to the Somers Isles Company. Due to limited resources on the island, acts were passed in 1616 and 1620 banning the hunting of birds and turtles. These acts became the first conservation laws in the New World.

This map was drawn shortly after the Somers Isles Company took control of the island and was published, it is thought, in Amsterdam during the period 1621-1633. Distances on the map to Bermuda are given in “Stadiorum Milliarum” to Florida, Plymouth [Massachusetts], New England, Cape Henry, Cape Charles and Roanoak–the latter location marking the place of the famous “Lost Colony” of 1587. This map forms an interesting companion piece to other items in Special Collections, notably several travel accounts of the period and the “Croatan Archaeological site ring”.

To view an enlarged version of this image, click on the image itself.

Mappa Aestivarum Isularum alias Barmudas dictarum

Mappa Aestivarum Isularum alias Barmudas dictarum