Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Allen H. Morgan papers (except for the oversize scrapbook) is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the papers of ornithologist, outdoor enthusiast, and environmental advocate Allen H. Morgan of Weymouth, Mass., 1940-1990, pertaining to his birding activities, tenure as the vice president of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, work with other environmental organizations, speaking engagements, and writings.

Biographical Sketch

Allen H. Morgan of Wayland, Mass. was a avid ornithologist, outdoor enthusiast, and environmental advocate. "He was a conservationist long before it was fashionable, and an inspiring public speaker who could galvanize his audience into action. His untiring spirit, unwavering beliefs, and powers of persuasion brought him success time and time again as he rescued thousands of acres of open space from the threat of development." (Atkins, 1990)

Born on 12 August 1925 in Waltham, Mass., Morgan was the son of Charles T. and Helen C. Morgan. He had two siblings: an older brother Charles Carter (called Carter), who died when Morgan was twelve years old (1938), and a younger sister Margery (Jerry) Morgan. Morgan attended Wayland public schools, Mount Prospect School for Boys in Waltham, and Weston High School in Weston, Mass. He interests in ornithology began in 1934 (age nine) while under the tutelage of David Lloyd Garrison, a English and Latin teacher at Mount Prospect and a close friend of the famed ornithologist Ludlow Griscom. Morgan gave his first public lecture on birds and conservation to the Wayland Garden Club in 1938 and was elected the first non-Harvard student member of the Harvard Ornithological Club in 1939. Through Garrison, Morgan had the opportunity to meet Russell Mason, then director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and in 1940, he got to know Mason further during a summer job with the curator of the Boston Society of Natural History, cleaning and cataloging a collection of bird skins housed adjacent to the Mass. Audubon headquarters in Boston. He join the Mass. Audubon Society in 1941, and during that year he gave another lecture to the Wayland Garden Club, using a bird-song record and color slides borrowed from Mass. Audubon. The club later established a wildlife sanctuary in the Wayland river marshes.

In early 1943, Morgan left high school halfway through his senior year to enter Bowdoin College. He joined the United Sates Marine Corps Reserve in February and was employed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from May to June, working on a gull control project along the Maine coast. He was called to duty by the Marine Corps in July 1943 and was assigned to officer training at Dartmouth College. He served in the Marine Corps in North and South Carolina, Virginia, and California from 1944-1946, spending all of his free time birding.

In 1946, he married Alice Rand, and they had three children: Charles C., Helen Selinda, and David Rand Morgan. After his graduation from Bowdoin in 1947, he took a job as a clerk at a casualty insurance company in Hartford, Conn. He left Hartford in 1950 to partner with his father, a life insurance salesman in Boston, Mass., but was recalled to the Marine Corps later in the year. He was released from the Marine Corps and returned to the life insurance business in 1951, just prior to his father's death.

On his return to the Boston area, he activity pursued birding once again, going before and after work for more than 100 days a year. In April 1952, he discovered and collected North America's first cattle egret and became a celebrity in ornithological circles. A few weeks later, Morgan was contacted by a friend who had attended a local showing of films by Richard Borden, the famed Walt Disney Company wildlife film-maker, and told a cattle egret was spotted in a film that Borden had shot five months earlier. The next day, Morgan met with Borden to confirm the recording, and they subsequently became friends. Borden asked Morgan to write scripts for several of his films, and during this process Morgan became interested in wildlife photography and began to shoot his own films. Morgan also began a campaign to preserve "open space" for people and habitats for wildlife. In 1953, he organized and helped found the Sudbury Valley Trustees, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect the flood-plain marshes of the Sudbury River Valley.

In 1956, as the newly appointed president of Mass. Audubon, Borden asked Morgan to consider becoming more involved in the society. There were no positions open at the time, so he suggested that Morgan join the society's board of directors. Less than a year after Morgan joined the board, the position of executive vice president came open, and after deep consideration, Morgan decided to leave the insurance business. He was appointed executive vice president of the Mass. Audubon Society in November 1957.

Under Morgan's leadership, the Massachusetts Audubon Society grew from a birdwatching and educational group of 7,500 members to a significant conservation organization of 25,000 members. Morgan also initiated more educational programs, expanded the sanctuaries and nature centers, and lobbied on behalf of the society for conservation legislation at the state and federal level. In addition to his work at the society, Morgan also frequently lectured (some years speaking at more than 100 engagements) and served on or consulted for a number of environmental committees, boards, and government commissions, including the Sudbury Valley Trustees, New England Wildflower Preservation Society, Wayland Conservation Commission, Elbanobscot Foundation, Inc., National Wildlife Federation, Massachusetts Conservation Council, and Coastal Wetland Action Committee, among many others. In his free time, Morgan continued with his ornithological interests at home, during Mass. Audubon sponsored trips, and while on vacation.

After Morgan's retirement from Mass. Audubon in 1980, he continued lecturing, consulting, and writing until his death in 1990.


Chester G. Atkins, Tribute to Allen H. Morgan, United States House of Representatives, 1990.

Allen H. Morgan, "History of the Massachusetts Audubon Society" (unpublished manuscript), ca. 1980.

Collection Description

The Allen H. Morgan papers consist of eight document boxes, one narrow box, one pamphlet box, one oversize box, and 37 volumes in a record carton that span the years 1923-1990. The collection is divided into four series: Personal papers, Birding materials, Helen C. Morgan diaries, and Printed materials.

A large portion of the collection pertains to Morgan's interest in ornithology, including his bird journals kept from 1943-1977 describing birding in New England, various places in the United States, and internationally. Of special interest is a journal entry dated 23 April 1952, in which Morgan describes his discovery and collection of the first know North American cattle egret. The collection also contains loose descriptions of various birding trips taken from 1949-1978; letters written to his mother from 1945-1946, while stationed with the Marines, and describing his birding activities throughout California; bird surveys he led or participated in; and reports written for Bowdoin College and the Massachusetts Audubon Society on bird-related issues, 1943-ca. 1951.

Another large portion of the collection consists of scrapbooks compiled by Morgan documenting his life as an ornithologist and environmental advocate, his nearly twenty years as executive vice president of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, lecturing, and writing. The scrapbooks include biographical information, correspondence, printed materials, programs, essays, and photographs, among other formats.

The collection also contains Morgan's published and unpublished writings, including an incomplete draft of the "History of the Massachusetts Audubon Society"; correspondence dating from 1942-1987 pertaining primarily to Morgan's lecturing and writing activities; printed materials; biographical information; and notes and ephemera.

In addition, the collection also contains diaries kept by Morgan's mother, Helen C. Morgan, from 1938-1977, including brief entries describing her daily activities and events such as births, deaths, and holidays. This series also contains a diary kept by Helen from 1923-1955 pertaining to the diet and health of her children.

Acquisition Information

Gift of David R. Morgan in Dec. 2005.

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Allen H. Morgan papers (except for the oversize scrapbook) is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Personal papers, 1940-1987

A. Scrapbooks (disbound), 1940-1982

This subseries contains scrapbooks compiled by Morgan pertaining to his ornithological and environmental interests, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, speaking engagements, and publications. The scrapbooks contain biographical materials created by Morgan, his mother Helen C. Morgan, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society; letters retained for autograph and informational interests; publications and clippings written by or pertaining to Morgan; annual reports, form letters, brochures, programs, and other materials pertaining to Mass. Audubon; professional photographs and snapshots of Morgan and birds; event programs; awards and honors; and other miscellaneous memorabilia.

Box 1SH 1765 VFolder 1-23
Scrapbook 1, 1940-1963Disbound volume.
Box 1SH 1765 VFolder 24-31
Scrapbook 2, 1966-1970Disbound volume.
Box 1SH 1765 VFolder 32-33
Scrapbook 3, 1969-1982Disbound volume.
Box 2SH 17GF +Folder 1-9
Scrapbook 3, 1969-1982 (continued)Disbound volume.
Box 2SH 17GF +Folder 10-25
Scrapbook 4, 1972-1976Disbound volume.
Box OS
Oversize scrapbook, ca. 1940-1967Disbound volume.

B. Correspondence, 1942-1987

Box 3SH 17GQ 9Folder 1-7
Loose correspondence, 1942-1987

Letters received by Morgan from environmental organizations, publishing houses, magazines, and other media outlets that pertain to his work with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, various speaking engagements, and his publications. The series also includes form letters and memos written by Morgan while at Mass. Audubon to society members, the board of directors, department heads, sanctuary directors, and other staff, as well as miscellaneous personal letters.

Series I.A. Scrapbooks also contains correspondence retained by Morgan.

Box 3SH 17GQ 9Folder 8-12
Letters written to his mother, 1945-1946

Includes letters and postcards written by Morgan to his mother Helen C. Morgan while serving in the United States Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California from 1945-1946. Letters pertain to his life on base, his various duties, and birding.

C. Writings, 1971-1980

This subseries contains two typescript drafts of "A History of the Massachusetts Audubon Society," written by Morgan in 1980 and never published. The drafts are each different, pertain only to the history of the society to 1965, and include many manuscript edits, checklists, and indexes. Morgan probably transcribed his history from tape recordings. The subseries also contains a non-profit fundraising handbook created by Morgan in 1980 and a copy of a short work entitled "The Crisis of the Human Environment," written by Morgan for the Mass. Audubon Society in 1971.

Draft of "A History of the Massachusetts Audubon Society," by Allen H. Morgan, ca. 1980

Box 3SH 17GQ 9Folder 13-23
Draft #1, Chapters I- X
Box 3SH 17GQ 9Folder 24-25
Draft # 2, Chapters I-II
Box 12
Onsite photocopies of drafts
Box 3SH 17GQ 9Folder 26-31
"Fund-raising for Non-Profit Organizations: The Art and Science of Building Membership, Annual Gifts, Bequests, and Grant Support for Charitable Organizations," by Allen Morgan, Sep. 1980Disbound volume.
Box 4SH 17G6 WFolder 1-13
"Fund-raising for Non-Profit Organizations..." (continued)Disbound volume.
Box 4SH 17G6 WFolder 14
"Crisis of the Human Environment," by Allen Morgan, 1971

D. Biographical information, ca. 1960-1980

This subseries includes biographical information about Morgan, printed for distribution by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, ca. 1960-1967, and the Frothingham Management Company, ca. 1980.

Box 4SH 17G6 WFolder 15

E. Note cards, undated

This subseries contains scraps of paper and note cards kept in a desk drawer by Morgan, with quotes, inspirational messages, phrases, jokes, stories, and prayers.

Box 5SH 17GG %

II. Birding materials, 1943-1978

A. Bird journals, 1943-1977

This subseries contains journals kept by Morgan from 1943-1977, pertaining to his ornithological activities in New England, during his time in the Marine Corps in California, while on vacation, and during other professional and casual nature-related trips in the United States and abroad. The journals contain descriptions of birds seen and sometimes collected; times and dates of sightings; time spent birding with family, friends, and other birding enthusiasts; other nature sights seen; and information on and histories of specific birds. Later journals, dated 1958-1977, also pertain to his other environmental activities and contain photographs, charts, statistics, maps, and other printed materials.

See also Series I.B. Birding trips.

Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 1
Bird journal "Volume II," 20 May 1943-12 Oct. 1947
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 2
Bird journal "Volume III," 13 Oct. 1947-11 Apr. 1949
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 3
Bird journal "Volume IV," 12 Apr. 1949-30 Mar. 1950
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 4
Bird journal "Volume V," 2 Apr. 1950- 1 Aug. 1952
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 5
Bird journal "Volume VI," 1 Aug. 1952-Sep. 1956
Box 4SH 17G6 WFolder 16-20
Loose items removed from Bird journals Vol. 1-5
Box 4SH 17G6 WFolder 21-28
"Bird Journal by Species," 1 Aug. 1952-Sep. 1956Disbound volume.

Corresponds with daily journal Vol. VI.

"Field Journal," 20 July 1958-17 Nov. 1963

Disbound volume.
Box 4SH 17G6 WFolder 29-37
20 July 1958-14 Nov. 1962
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 1-4
15 Nov. 1962-17 Nov. 1963
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 5-12
"Bird Journal," May 1963-Mar. 1968Disbound volume.

"Field Notes," 1963-1977

Disbound volume.
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 13
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 14-17
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 18
"1968-Man Playing God"
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 19
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 20
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 21
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 22-23
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 24
Box 6SH 17GR AFolder 25-27
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 1
"1973-Colorado," and "1973-Bantry Bay" (Ireland)
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 2
"1973- Milford Haven" (Wales) and "1973-Slimbridge" (England)
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 3
"1973-RSPB" (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, London, England)
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 4
"1974-W. Mexico"
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 5

B. Birding trips, 1949-1978

This subseries contains documents pertaining to ornithological trips taken by Morgan from 1949-1978, including essays, correspondence, itineraries, notes, and brochures.

See also Series II.A. Bird journals.

Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 6
"3 Days of Birding in California," undated
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 7
"The Mt. Bigelow Area of Maine," 1949
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 8
"Western Trip," 1954
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 6
"Gaspe Peninsula," summer 1957
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 9
East Mexico, 1978

C. Bird surveys, 1949-1967

This subseries contains a survey led by Morgan from 1949-1951 pertaining to waterfowl breeding patterns in the Sudbury River Marsh area of Massachusetts. The survey was part of a larger survey of waterfowl breeding in the North Eastern United States, led by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This subseries also includes a survey led by the Massachusetts Audubon Society from 1963-1967 pertaining to the breeding success of ospreys in the Westport, Mass. area. The surveys include maps, charts, statistics, correspondence, and notes.

Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 10-11
Waterfowl breeding survey, 1949-1951
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 12-18
Osprey survey, 1963-1967

D. Reports, 1943-ca. 1951

This subseries contains typescript and manuscript reports written by Morgan from 1944-ca. 1951, including reports written for a zoology class in 1944, several reports written about specific birds from 1945-ca. 1951, and copies of the "The Audubon Checklist" for 1949 and 1950. One of the zoology reports include 15 photographs taken while on a bird-control trip off the coast of Maine with the United Sates Fish and Wildlife Service in May 1943.

Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 19

E. Loose notes, 1946-1952

This subseries contains miscellaneous loose notes kept by Morgan from 1946-1952. The notes include lists of bird sightings and manuscript copies of bird descriptions copied from various birding publications.

Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 20

III. Helen C. Morgan diaries, ca. 1923-1977 (with gaps)

This series contains diaries kept by Morgan's mother Helen C. Morgan from 1938-1977 (with gaps). Early diaries include one- to three-word entries detailing appointments and activities of Helen, her husband Charles, and children Margery, Allen, and Carter, and of family, friends and acquaintances. Diary entries kept after 1951, while still brief, provide more details and perspective about her life and daily activities. In addition to appointments, birthdays, and deaths, these diaries include descriptions of time spent with her children, grandchildren, and other family and friends; trips taken to the Cape and to Maine, among other New England destinations; time spent working in the garden and around the house; winters spent in Florida; memberships held in various organizations; social events attended; politics observed; battles with illness; and the weather.

This series also contains a diary kept by Helen C. Morgan from ca. 1923-1951 pertaining to the diet and health of her children. The diary includes records of their eating patterns, weights, illnesses, and treatments. The diary also include letters received from her son Carter's doctor Mary Putnam of New York City, as well as Carter's report cards from the Waltham Public School from 1927-1929.

Box 7 SH 17G7 XFolder 21-24
Children's health diary, ca. 1923-1951 (with gaps)

Diaries, 1938-1977 (with gaps)

Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 7
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 8
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 9
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 10
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 11
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 12
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 13
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 14
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 15
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 16
Box 9 (carton)SH 17GS BVol. 17
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 18
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 19
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 20
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 21
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 22
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 23
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 24
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 25
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 26
Box 10SH 17G8 YVol. 27
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 28
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 29
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 30
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 31
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 32
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 33
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 34
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 35
Box 11SH 17GI LVol. 36

IV. Printed materials, 1946-1990

A. Publications, 1946-1987

This subseries contains newsletters, magazines, and other publications that include articles either written by or about Morgan and his birding or conservation activities. The subseries include newsletters of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Sudbury Valley Trust, and a copy of Nature Magazine, among others. Many of the publications are incomplete.

Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 25
Massachusetts Audubon Society, 1958-1981
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 26
Sudbury Valley Trust, 1956-1966
Box 7SH 17G7 XFolder 27
Miscellaneous publications, 1946-1987

B. Clippings, 1952-1990

This subseries contains clippings dated 1952-1990, pertaining primarily to Morgan's conservation activities and work with the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 1

C. Ephemera, 1946-1990

This subseries contains loose printed ephemera, including award certificates, a commission for a study on water pollution from Governor John Holpe in 1966, various event programs, and a copy of an invitation to Morgan's wedding in 1946.

Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 2
Award certificates, 1968, 1990
Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 3
Governor's Commission, 1966
Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 4
Event programs, 1958-1972
Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 5
Allen Morgan's wedding invitation, 1946

D. Maps, 1964

This subseries contains scientific maps, weather charts, and thermistor data created on a cruise on the Atlantic II with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1964. The data gatherer is unknown. The subseries also includes maps of Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, Mill Brook Wilderness area in Sudbury, and various zones in Wayland, Mass.

Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 6-10
Maps and statistics from a cruise on the Atlantic II, 1964
Box 8SH 17GH OFolder 11
Miscellaneous maps, undated

Preferred Citation

Allen H. Morgan papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Morgan, Allen H. (Allen Hungerford), 1925-1990--Photographs.
Morgan, Helen C.


Massachusetts Audubon Society.
Sudbury Valley Trustees.
United States. Marine Corps--Soldiers.


Audubon societies--Massachusetts.
Bird watching.
California--Description and travel--1869-1950.
Environmental agencies--Massachusetts.
Land conservation.
Nature conservation--Massachusetts.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Loose photographs removed to the Allen H. Morgan photographs (unprocessed). Photo. Coll. 500.106.