How Do We Know?

Continuing the Search


Strategies for Further Discovery


Newspaper Searches: Searches in library historical newspaper databases can lead to articles that discuss Robert Morris and other historical figures of interest. The Boston Herald, for example, covered many of Morris's cases. Try searches such as "Robert Morris, Esq.”; “Robert Morris” and counsel; “Robert Morris” and client; “Robert Morris” and court; or “Robert Morris” and verdict. Newspapers such as The Liberator and Frederick Douglass’s Paper (previously The North Star) reported constantly on antislavery and civil rights activism.

Genealogical Records: Databases like contain a wealth of information including census records, vital records (e.g., birth, death, and marriage), wills, and city business directories. Researchers can learn a great deal about historical figures like Morris, as well as family members, colleagues, and clients, by using these resources.

Digitized Book Collections: In addition to searching library databases and catalogs, researchers can get leads to valuable sources by searching digital book collections like Google Books, Internet Archive, and HathiTrust for key terms like “Robert Morris” and lawyer and Boston. Library catalogs and resources like Google Books allow users to narrow search results by publication date, so researchers can focus, for example, on books published in the 19th century.

Researching His Circle: Research on historical figures like Morris can be expanded by examining materials focused on people in his life, such as Ellis Gray Loring, William Lloyd Garrison, Lydia Maria Child, and Charles Sumner. This material might include archival collections containing items like diaries, letters, and account books, as well as biographies and published collections of letters. Keep in mind that in the age of communication via physical letters, Morris’s letters likely would have survived only in the collections of the recipient.



Archives & Papers




More on the Early Civil Rights Movement

  • Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick, Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.
  • Gerald Gillerman, “Sarah Roberts, Charles Sumner, and the Idea of Equality.” Boston Bar Journal vol. 31 (Sept./Oct. 1987): pp. 40-46.
  • Kabria Baumgartner; “'Full and Impartial Justice': Robert Morris and the Equal School Rights Movement in Massachusetts." The New England Quarterly vol. 95, no. 2 (2022): pp. 155–191. doi:
  • Kabria Baumgartner, In Pursuit of Knowledge: Black Women and Educational Activism in Antebellum America. New York: New York University Press, 2019.
  • Amber D. Moulton, The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.
  • Hilary J. Moss, Schooling Citizens: The Struggle for African American Education in Antebellum America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  • Carleton Mabee, “A Negro Boycott to Integrate Boston Schools.” The New England Quarterly vol. 41, no. 3 (1968): pp. 341–61.
  • G.W. Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861: A History of the Education of the Colored People of the United States from the Beginning of Slavery to the Civil War. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1919.

More on Morris's Antislavery Activism and Involvement in the Fugitive Rescue Cases

  • John D. Gordan III, The Fugitive Slave Rescue Trial of Robert Morris: Benjamin Robbins Curtis on the Road to Dred Scott. Clark, NJ: Talbot Publishing, 2013.
  • Gary Collison, Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.
  • Robert T. Teamoh, "Lewis Hayden Dead." Boston Daily Globe, Apr. 7, 1889, available from ProQuest.
  • "Avarice Defeated - Justice Triumphant." The North Star, Oct. 13, 1848, available from African American Newspapers (Morris represents sailor Leaven Young against Captain William Jackson Steward for nonpayment of wages).
  • "Another Slave Case in Boston." Boston Herald, Nov. 3, 1846, available from NewsBank (Morris represents Mary Miranda).

More on Morris, Catholicism, and the Irish Community

The Library of Robert Morris


  • The Robert Morris Legacy Library (LibraryThing). A reconstruction of Morris's library, based on his extant books at Boston College, his account book, and other sources.