MS-106 Morris, J.G. and Morris-Hay Family Diaries, 1827-1890

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MS – 106: Morris, J.G. and Morris-Hay Family Diaries, 1827-1890

(1 boxes, .027 cubic foot

Dates: 1827-1890

Processed by: Kate Boeree

July 2009

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF


Purchased from Philip F. Gura, 1994.


John Gottlieb Morris was born on 14 November 1803 in York, Pennsylvania, the youngest of nine children of Dr. John Samuel Gottlieb Morris and his wife Barbara. He studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and transferred to Dickinson College for his senior year, where he graduated in 1823.

He began pursuing his life’s work as a pastor at Schmucker’s New Market School, returned to Princeton for seven months, and attended Gettysburg Seminary briefly as part of the seminary’s first class. He accepted a call to serve as the First English Lutheran Church’s first permanent pastor in Baltimore Maryland in 1827, where he stayed until 1860. On 1 November 1827, he married Eliza Hay (1808 – 1875), his childhood friend from York, with whom he had four daughters: Maria Louisa, Georgianna, Mary Hay, and Anna Hay.  Six other children died in infancy, causing a great deal of grief to Morris and his wife.  Morris traveled to Gettysburg frequently to devote his energy towards the development of the Theological Seminary and Pennsylvania College (present-day Gettysburg College).  In 1828, he was appointed to the seminary’s board of directors where he worked as secretary until 1836 and in 1840 once again joined the board for the rest of his life.  He served several terms as president during crucial times in the school’s development (1844-1846, 1847-1851, and 1857-1861). Morris and twenty-six other men served as trustees at the school’s founding.  He taught zoology at Pennsylvania College from 1844 – 1848 and gave annual lectures at both the college and the seminary. In 1848 he was a founding member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He stressed his love of natural science through the AAAS and his lectures, particularly in a popular series at the Smithsonian Institution during the 1850s and began developing collections of specimens for classification and study at both Pennsylvania College and the Maryland Historical Society, in addition to an expansive personal collection.  In 1844, Morris inspired thirty students from the college and seminary to form the Linnaean Association, which was the third college natural history society formed in the entire nation.  In 1847, he led the students in the creation and construction of Linnaean Hall, the second building on campus.

After he founded Lutherville, MD in 1852, Morris was heavily involved in creation of the Lutherville Female College in 1854, where he also taught, and began developing the Maryland Historical Society’s library.  By this time, he felt that his time at the First English Lutheran Church was over – he had done much for the congregation but his recent scholarly pursuits made him need something more, intellectually and theologically.  Morris left the First English Lutheran Church shortly after being elected as a trustee of the newly created Peabody Institute in December 1859.  From there, he pursued and obtained the position of the first librarian of the Peabody Institute in 1860, where he worked until 1866, when disagreements with the Library committee forced him to resign.  In August of 1867, at the age of sixty-nine, Morris returned to preaching as pastor of the Third English Lutheran Church, served as vice president of the Maryland Historical Society.  In 1873, he retired from the church, but his pastoral work was not over.  St. Paul’s, a small Lutheran church in Lutherville, was in need of a pastor in 1879. Morris accepted the job and stayed there for ten years and finally retired from all pastoral work in 1889.

In 188, the mayor and city council of Baltimore elected Morris as one of the managers of the House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents, where he served as chairman of the School and Chapel Committee for the rest of his life.

John G. Morris died on October 10, 1895, survived by three of his daughters: Maria Louisa, Georgianna, and Mary Hay. He was preceded in death by his wife Eliza Hay and his youngest daughter Anna Hay and was buried next to them in York, Pennsylvania. 

Scope and Content Notes

This collection contains 10 diaries ranging from 1827 to 1890, two of which are written by John Gottleib Morris and eight by M.A. Hay.

John Gottleib Morris’ diaries from 1827 – 1831 contain church membership and donation records as well as his personal thoughts on the ministerial profession (April 1827) and his sense of duty to the church (26 May 1827). He speaks of his marriage (1 November 1827) and his children lost in infancy (24 June 1828, 2 May 1829). Included in the first diary (1827 – 1831) are his notes on the formation of the Lutherville Female College.

M.A. Hay, the author in the eight diaries from 1845 – 1861 speaks mostly about the sermons she hears, her work in the church, bible classes, and visiting friends.  She is most likely the mother or sister of John Gottleib Morris’ wife, Eliza Hay.  She mentions Morris, Eliza, and their daughters quite frequently, as well as Morris’ sermons.

Diaries are grouped by author and arranged chronologically.

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF