Letters primarily to the nineteenth-century American chemist Edward Williams Morley, and letters to and from other members
of his family including his parents and siblings, also including an important collection of Civil War letters, in addition
to miscellaneous historical documents, form the collection titled the Edward Williams Morley Family Papers in the Archives
of the California Institute of Technology. Edward Morley is best known for his collaboration with Albert A. Michelson on the
ether-drift experiment (the Michelson-Morley experiment). Morley also conducted important experiments on atomic weights and
other constants of nature.
Edward Williams Morley was born on 29 January 1838 in Newark, New Jersey, the eldest child of Sardis Brewster Morley, a Congregational
minister, and Anna Clarissa Treat. Morley attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts (B.A., 1860), and entered
Andover Theological Seminary in 1861. He continued his theological course concurrently with his studies in chemistry and physics,
receiving a master's degree from Williams in 1863 and his license as a Congregational minister in 1864. His first teaching
position was at South Berkshire Academy in New Marlboro, Massachusetts, where he became acquainted with Isabella (Belle) Ashley
Birdsall; the two were married in December 1868. During the Civil War, Edward Morley served with a relief agency, the U.S.
Sanitary Commission, in Fort Monroe, Virginia, assisting convalescent soldiers. His two younger brothers, Frank and John,
both fought with the Union army. In 1868 Edward accepted a call to the ministry in Twinsburg, Ohio, but it soon became evident
that he preferred teaching to preaching. He assumed teaching duties at nearby Western Reserve College, and when the college
moved to Cleveland in 1882, Morley was named to the chair of chemistry and natural history. He also held a professorship in
chemistry and toxicology at the Cleveland Medical School. Morley retired to West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1906 where he lived
until his death in 1923. He and his wife had no children.
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