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William Waller Carson Letter to Harcourt Alexander Morgan

Identifier: MS-0031

  • Staff Only

This letter is a correspondence from William Waller Carson to Harcourt Alexander Morgan in reply to Morgan’s invitation to attend the University of Tennessee's commencement ceremonies. Carson accepts the invitation and remarks upon how much the University of Tennessee has grown in his eyes.


  • 1929 May 28

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0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


This letter is a correspondence from William Waller Carson to Harcourt Alexander Morgan in reply to Morgan’s invitation for Carson to attend Commencement.

Biographical/Historical Note

Harcourt Alexander Morgan was born on August 31, 1867 in Kerwood, Ontario, Canada. He earned his BS degree from Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph in 1889 and did some graduate work at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He began his teaching career at Louisiana State University as a professor of entomology and horticulture. In 1904, he accepted a position as a professor of entomology and zoology and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Tennessee. In this role, Morgan served as the primary contact between the University and the state's farmers. Through rotating "farmers' institutes," exhibits, and short courses, Morgan helped to close some of the political divides that had appeared during the Civil War and established an excellent reputation for himself among Tennessee's farmers.

In 1919, Morgan succeeded Brown Ayres as President of the University of Tennessee. During his administration, he emphasized UT's role as a statewide institution and managed to get a number of appropriations from the state legislature to help the university fulfill its role as "the vital center of the state's prosperity." In 1934, he left the University to become the Tennessee Valley Authority's agricultural specialist. Here, Morgan emphasized the need for the TVA to work with state and local organizations, took responsibility for convincing Tennessee's farmers that the TVA would be a positive influence in their lives, and continued to advocate scientific agriculture. He retired from the TVA in 1947, and died on August 25, 1950.

William Waller Carson was born in Mississippi on June 2, 1845, to Dr. James Greene and Catherine Waller Carson. He was raised primarily in Louisiana. In 1863, he enlisted in the 4th Louisiana Cavalry Regiment (CSA), where he served until 1865. After the war, he resumed his education and graduated from Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) with his Civil Engineering (C. E.) degree in 1868 and his Mining Engineering (M. E.) degree in 1869. After graduation, he worked on several civil engineering projects before becoming a professor of mathematics at Davidson College (North Carolina) in 1877. He held this post until 1883. He married Rachel Finnie of Memphis, Tennessee, in December of 1880, and they had three children. In 1885, he became a professor of civil engineering at the University of Tennessee. For many years, "Uncle Billy" (as his students called him) constituted the University's entire Civil Engineering Department. He retired from this post in 1916.

Carson was also extremely active in Confederate veterans' affairs, and was the commander of the Fred Ault Camp, No. 5, of the United Confederate Veterans from 1912 until his death. Carson died in Knoxville on February 7, 1930.


This collection is in one folder.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA