Morton Walker Papers, 1929-1964

Accession: 1990-076
Extent: 1.75 linear feet
Restrictions: None
Copyright: Copyright has not been transferred to the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center.

Biography of Morton Walker

Morton Walker, a native of Hartford, Kentucky, provided substantive leadership to the city of Louisville and to the University of Louisville during three decades of change from 1935 through 1964. His work as chairman of the Louisville Board of Education spanned three terms during the controversial decisions on the coeducation of duPont Manual and Male High Schools and school desegregation of the Louisville school system in the 1950s. At the University of Louisville he served as associate professor and professor of English and Speech at Speed Scientific School as well as Dean of Men of the University from 1947 through 1952 when he was appointed Assistant to the President in charge of alumni and student relations. In July 1974, Walker retired and promoted to Professor Emeritus from the Speed Scientific School. He died in Louisville in June 1992.

Walker was born June 18, 1909, in Hartford, Kentucky, and educated at the University of Kentucky, receiving an A.B. in 1931 and an M. A. degree in 1933. His undergraduate work was in English and Journalism while his graduate concentration was English and Speech. While in college, Walker received a teaching fellowship for graduate studies. He was also inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, Sigma Delta Chi and Pi Delta Epsilon, all scholastic and professional societies; Omicron Delta Kappa, a men's leadership fraternity; and Phi Kappa Tau, a social fraternity. Walker maintained a keen interest in his honorary and social society affiliations through his career. He continued his education during the summers of 1933, 1934, 1936 and 1939, at the University of California.

Upon graduation Walker began a career teaching English, Speech and providing faculty assistance to various journalism projects. Between 1933 and 1946 he taught at the Jenkins High School (Jenkins, Kentucky), Southern Junior High School (Louisville), duPont Manual High School (Louisville), and Indiana University Extension (New Albany, Indiana). During this period Walker was a sports announcer of WGRC and he taught speech courses for the management group of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. of Louisville. Quite active in educational professional organizations, Walker served as president of the Louisville Education Association and the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English.

Walker joined the University of Louisville faculty as an assistant professor of English with the Speed Scientific School in September 1946 and a year later became acting Dean of Men, at a time when availability of student housing was a critical issue. He became permanent Dean of Men in the spring of 1948. Walker was then appointed Assistant to the President (Dr. Philip Davidson) for alumni and student relations and served in that position until 1954 when he wished to return to full time teaching of English, Speech, and Journalism.

Walker was elected in November 1948 to the first of three terms on the Louisville Board of Education. Receiving strong backing from the AFL-Federation of Teachers, the Louisville Education Association, and the Louisville Classroom Teachers Association, Walker ran on a progressive platform favoring coeducation in Louisville schools and a higher tax rate to secure new schools. The firestorm of school desegregation lay just ahead in 1956-1957.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Walker showcased as a speaker at numerous civic luncheons and dinners and school commencements. He served as president of the Louisville Lions Club and was active in brotherhood organizations such as the Commission on Human Rights and the National Conference of Christian and Jews. For his local church, Fourth Avenue Baptist, Walker served on various leadership and fund-raising committees. He also served as president of the Louisville Council of Churches and as mission chairman for the Greater Louisville Evangelistic Mission. He was appointed to the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Race Relations, the Governor's Commission on Adult Education, and Louisville's Rent Advisory Board.

Walker's decade of community outreach bolstered his credibility when as president of the Louisville Board of Education he had to provide coordination and leadership during the turbulent years leading up to school desegregation in 1957, deterring violence by providing voluntary requests for transfers of children from mixed schools. President of the Board of Education until 1964, Walker continued to support teacher salary raises, less administration for classroom teachers, and improved preparation at the high school level for college. In the 1960s, Walker continued to give commencement addresses, worked in church councils and served on activities of the Louisville Arts Council.


Brief Description of the Collection

This 1.75 linear foot collection spans the years 1929 through the 1980s, and covers his education, his professional work, his involvement with the Louisville Board of Education and various civic and church activities, as well as his personal life. His career as an educator in the Louisville public schools is documented as well as his work at the University of Louisville. Included is material relating to the desegregation of Louisville's schools in the 1950s. This collection includes personal correspondence, reports, speeches, newspaper clippings and other printed material, as well as photographs.

Series Descriptions

Series I: Biography and Personal Correspondence:

Extent: 10 folders
Includes biographical information and personal correspondence from the 1940s and 1950s.
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Series II: Education at the University of Kentucky:

Extent: 4 folders
Consists of materials concerning Walker's education at the University of Kentucky in 1929-1931 and later in 1946.
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Series III: Professional Career:

Extent: 8 folders
This series is made up of material that covers Walker's professional career as an educator at Southern Junior High School and duPont Manual High School (both in Louisville) from 1935 to 1946. A few items cover the University of Louisville period from 1943 to 1959, the most significant item being his speech at the dedication of the new University Library in 1957.
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Series IV: Newspaper Clippings:

Extent: 5 folders
A substantial body of newspaper clippings covering Walker's many civic and church activities, most prominently being his work on the Louisville Board of Education. Covers the period 1947-1964.
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Series V: Louisville Board of Education:

Extent: 8 folders
Walker's collection of reports, data, and articles on issues facing the school board during the 1950s. It includes campaign posters, notices of his speeches at various school commencements in the area and national press coverage of Louisville's school desegregation in the 1950s.
View a listing of the contents of this series

Series VI: Civic and Church Activities:

Extent: 8 folders
Contains material about the Fourth Avenue Baptist Church, Commission on Human Rights and National Conference of Christian and Jews, the Lion's Club International and various honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa.
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Series VII: Hobbies and Interests:

Extent: 18 folders
Contains a collection of Currier and Ives prints and photographs from various trips.
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Box/Folder List:

Box 1

Series I: Biography and Personal Correspondence

  • 1. Personal and Family Papers, no date, 1945-1959
  • 2. Personal identification and membership cards, 1934-1958
  • 3. Notification of induction, 1943
  • 4. Personal and family correspondence, 1940s
  • 5. Personal and family correspondence, 1950s
  • 6. Personal and family correspondence, 1960s-1980s
  • 7. Personal and family financial records, 1946-1947
  • 8. Biographical
  • 9. Personal and family financial photos
  • 10. Walker Genealogy (includes Bible)

Series II: Education at the University of Kentucky

  • 11. University of Kentucky student guidebooks, 1929-1931
  • 12. University of Kentucky, printed material, 1931-1933
  • 13. Phi Kappa Tau newsletters, publications, and reports, 1931-1955
  • 14. Phi Beta Kappa correspondence, publications, 1931-1933
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Series III: Professional Career

  • 15. Southern Junior High School (Louisville): The Bugle 1935-1936
  • 16. duPont Manual High School (Louisville), The Crimson, 1938-1945
  • 17. duPont Manual High School (Louisville), memorabilia,1938-1945
  • 18. Work by former students at duPont Manual High School, 1938-1946
  • 19. University of Louisville, printed material, 1950s.
  • 20. Printed material and reports from various organizations, 1939-1959
  • 21. Notes and general correspondence, 1931-1943
  • 22. Teaching contract, 1940

Series IV: Newspaper Clippings

  • 23. Local and regional newspapers 1947-1949
  • 24. Local and regional newspapers 1950-1953
  • 25. Local and regional newspapers 1954-1955
  • 26. Local and regional newspapers 1956-1957
  • 27. Local and regional newspapers 1958-1964

Series V: Louisville Board of Education

  • 28. Campaign and election material, 1948-1952
  • 29. Reports, memoranda, and printed material, 1948-1952
  • 30. Speech favoring special building tax, no date
  • 31. Reports and printed material on coeducation and desegregation, 1950s
  • 32. Printed material relating to speeches at various commencements, 1950s
  • 33. Clippings and printed material on local education, 1939-1959
  • 34. Kentucky case summaries on the issue of disqualification of school board member, no date
  • 35. Correspondence, 1948-1952
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Series VI: Civic and Church Activities

  • 36. Printed material on activities of various community groups, 1942-1964
  • 37. Fourth Avenue Baptist Church Building Fund Campaign, 1945-1955
  • 38. Pledge receipts from Fourth Avenue Baptist Church, 1945
  • 39. Religious articles, 1945-1963
  • 40. National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1953-1964
  • 41. Lions Club International Convention, 1957
  • 42. Notes and correspondence, 1958-1964
  • 43. Miscellaneous publications, 1958-1963

Box 2

Series VII: Civic and Church Activities

  • 1. Currier and Ives Prints,
  • 2. Paintings, unidentified, n.d.
  • 3. Photographs and postcards, Kentucky and Missouri, n.d.
  • 4. Photographs and postcards, California, 1930s
  • 5. Photographs, Mt. Rainier National Park, 1930s
  • 6. Photographs, Oregon and Washington, 1930s
  • 7. Photographs, Texas and other western states, n.d.
  • 8. Photographs and postcards, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1930s
  • 9. Photographs, Columbia River Highway, 1930s
  • 10. Washington, DC and eastern states
  • 11. Postcards of flood in Louisville, Caufield and Shook, 1937
  • 12. Photographs, unidentified individuals and groups, 1930s
  • 13. Photographs and postcards of buildings and locations, n.d.
  • 14. Biographical notes on David Lawrence, n.d.
  • 15. Poetry, n.d.
  • 16. Hartford (Kentucky) Sesquicentennial publication, 1958
  • 17. Rough River Ripples, by McDowell A. Fogle, 1953
  • 18. Lion Club Roster