• IdentificationICU.SPCL.MORGAN
  • TitleGuide to the Thomas J. Morgan Papers1892-1939
  • PublisherUniversity of Chicago Library
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Date1892-1939
  • Physical Description1 linear foot (2 boxes)
  • RepositorySpecial Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.
  • AbstractThomas J. Morgan (1847-1912), socialist activist and journalist. Born in England in 1847 and migrated to U.S. in 1869. Active in the machinists labor movement and the Socialist Labor Party. Editor and publisher of The Provoker. Contains correspondence concerning The Provoker, party correspondence, drafts of committee resolutions and statements with which Morgan was associated. Also includes drafts of speeches and articles by Morgan, miscellaneous clippings, journals and publications reflecting Morgan's activities in the Socialist Labor Party and politics in general, as well as Morgan's diverse public welfare interests.

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Labor and Socialism


The collection is open for research.

When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Morgan, Thomas J. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Thomas John Morgan was born in Birmingham, England, October 27, 1847, the son of Thomas John and Hannah (Simcox) Morgan. Educated at Sunday and evening schools, Morgan worked at the machinist trade during and after his schooling. On January 26, 1868, he married Elizabeth Chambers of Birmingham and in 1869 he and his bride migrated to the United States, where they settled in Chicago. Morgan continued to work as a machinist. Rising quickly in the ranks of the labor movement in his trade, Morgan became President of the Machinists’ Union of Chicago in 1874, the same year that he became a member of the Socialist (Workingman’s) Party. In 1875 Morgan was a delegate to the Chicago Trades Assembly, and four years later he represented the Chicago Trades Assembly before the Legislative Committee of Inquiry into the Conditions of Labor. In the same year (1879) Morgan represented the Socialists of Chicago before a Congressional Committee of Inquiry.

In the years 1877 to 1880 Morgan was active in organizing the Socialist Labor Party. During the same period he prepared Workshop and Factory laws, which he had presented before the Chicago City Council in 1879 and which were adopted by the Council and made a part of the Municipal Code of Chicago. In 1888 Morgan organized the Woman’s Alliance for Protection of Women and Child Workers. In the same year he became editor of the journal Trades Assembly. In conjunction with Mrs. Morgan he prepared a twenty-four page pamphlet concerning Chicago sweat shops, which was published by Trades Assembly in 1891. By that year, Morgan had risen to be chairman of the joint committee of all the labor organizations of Chicago. This position undoubtedly was influential in Morgan’s receiving the Socialist Labor nomination for mayor of Chicago in 1891.

Thomas Morgan was a member of a committee that was instrumental in securing the location of the 1893 World’s Fair at Chicago. After the site had been settled on, he represented the labor organizations of the United States before a Congressional committee at Washington, requesting that the Fair be open on Sundays.

After graduating from the Chicago Law College in 1895, Morgan was examined by the Superior Court of Illinois and admitted to the legal profession. He was chosen to be one of a committee of one hundred selected by the Civic Federation to recommend reforms in Chicago public schools. He became secretary of the National Campaign Committee, Social Democratic Party in 1900, the same year in which he was run as the Party’s nominee for State’s Attorney for Cook County, Illinois.

Morgan was a lecturer at the National Sociologists Convocation held at Lake Bluff, Illinois in 1900, and a delegate to the Socialist National conventions at Indianapolis in 1901 and Chicago in 1904 and 1908. In 1903 he was the Party’s nominee for City Attorney of Chicago, in 1903 and 1907 for judge of the Superior Court of Cook County, Illinois, and in 1909 for United States Senator from Illinois.

Morgan’s offices within the Party itself included Chairman of the Illinois State Campaign Committee, 1904; member of the State Committee and Cook County Executive Committee, 1905; Chairman of the Cook County Central and Executive Committees, 1906; member of the Central and Executive Committees, 1907.

From 1909 until his death, Morgan was editor and publisher of The Provoker, a pocket-sized Socialist weekly. Morgan's other activities included being a member of the Grand Lounge and Deputy Grand Master of the Order of Sons of St. George, Illinois chapter, in 1904. Morgan died December 10, 1912.

The Thomas J. Morgan papers comprise 1 linear foot of material that covers the period 1891-1939. The papers contain correspondence concerning The Provoker, Party correspondence, drafts of committee resolutions and statements with which Morgan was associated. They also include drafts of speeches and articles by Morgan, miscellaneous clippings, journals and publications reflecting Morgan’s activities in the Socialist Labor Party and politics in general, as well as Morgan’s diverse public welfare interests. A list of names of correspondents for the files identified as Party correspondence (Folders 4 to 6) has been compiled.

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

  • Names
    • Morgan, Thomas J., 1847-1912
    • Jones, Mother, 1843?-1930
    • Socialist Labor Party
    • Socialist Party (U.S.)
  • Subject
    • Press, Socialist
    • Labor movement -- United States -- History