A few years back, Bob Moore of Yellow Springs took his kids to the public library where he found a shelf of books by local authors. There he discovered the writing of Arthur E. Morgan. Morgan’s creative and original thinking, reflected in these volumes, aroused Bob’s curiosity; he wondered about the voice of this man who had so much influence on the history of Yellow Springs and the Miami Valley, if there were any recordings of him speaking. Bob put the question to WYSO Curious. Hear the radio broadcast here:
Who was Arthur Morgan?
Arthur Ernest Morgan was president of Antioch College from 1920-1936, during which time he also served as the first chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority (1933-1938). But prior to that, he came to the Dayton area to help solve the problems caused by spring flooding along the banks of the Great Miami River, especially after the devastating flood of 1913. The organization he created, the Miami Conservancy District, continues to safeguard communities from Piqua to
Middletown, and it forms the basis of the Five Rivers MetroParks system. He also founded an organization to support the efforts of intentional communities. That group, now known as the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
What recordings are in the WYSO archives?
In answer to Bob’s curiosity, we do have several recordings of Morgan in the WYSO Audio Archives, all dating back to the 1960s. Morgan was born in 1878 and died in 1975 at the age of 97, so in our earliest recordings he’s already in his 80s. As with his writing, he is a formal, deliberate speaker, who communicates with purpose. We thought it would be interesting to talk with some folks who remember Arthur Morgan, and his actual voice in their own ears. WYSO sat down John and Faith Morgan, Arthur Morgan’s grandchildren, who shared their memories with Bob. Their perspective on who their grandfather was adds another dimension to our understanding of Morgan, one not found in the formality of the WYSO recordings.
A list of Morgan recordings in the WYSO Archives:
April 16, 1962 Testimony on behalf of the Seneca Nation (listen here)
May 5, 1963 Civil Rights March Speech in front of Drake House (listen here)
August 16, 1969 “Freestyle,” Interview with Prof. Richard Meisler (available in archives, which will be online by the end of 2015)
Antioch College's Olive Kettering Library also has an extensive Morgan collection in Antiochiana. College archivist Scott Sanders is there to share this trove of papers, including Morgan’s copious correspondence with Utopian thinkers worldwide, the books he authored, photographs, news clippings, and even the library that influenced his thinking. Arthur Morgan’s voice is well preserved and accessible to anyone interested in exploring his legacy.
WYSO Curious is our series driven by your questions and curiosities about the Miami Valley. Is there something you’ve always wondered about the Miami Valley’s history, people, culture, economy, politics or environment? Send in a question now, and check back to see which questions we’re considering. WYSO Curious is a partner of WBEZ's Curious City, which was founded by Jennifer Brandel and is one of ten Localore productions brought to life by AIR.
Jocelyn Robinson is WYSO’s Archives Fellow and the producer of Rediscovered Radio.
WYSO Public Radio is licensed to Antioch College.