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Robert Morris papers

 Collection 0091-LIT
Vice president of University National Bank, Robert Morris (1915-2001) came into contact with Katherine Anne Porter when she became a customer of the College Park, Maryland, branch at which he was the manager in 1971. Morris served as Porter's personal banker after she secured a loan from his bank. This collection of seven items of correspondence, six of which are Porter's letters to Morris, detail Porter's accounts and the progress on the loan she had taken during this time.

Dates

  • 1972-1973
  • Majority of material found within 1973

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

7 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The Robert Morris papers consist of seven letters written between Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Morris dating from August 14, 1972, to March 20, 1973. The subject of correspondence is Porter's finances at the time. The bulk of the letters were sent while Porter was in residence at Columbia University.

Biography

After serving in the United States Army for twenty-five years, Robert Morris (1915-2001) was appointed vice president of University National Bank. He served as both director of its military and executive departments and as manager of the College Park branch. Shortly after becoming manager in 1972, he received a call from American author Katherine Anne Porter, who requested a $10,000 loan. His reaction to her was immediate: "To me her voice seemed like that of a young woman--charming, fresh, gracious, even sexy. She was all feminine in an era before feminism mutated into man-bashing militancy." She said that she needed the loan because she sometimes "overspent or was too generous with my donations to others," despite her $3,000 monthly royalties from her successful full-length novel, Ship of Fools. Porter was not known for her frugality, and her letters to Morris often describe her finances as "muddled." But without hesitation Morris approved the loan, recalling, "that transaction was the beginning of our relationship--if that is the correct word to use--though perhaps the word 'association' would be more accurate--considering the metamorphosis of the word 'relationship' into the tawdry thing it is in today's connotation. My tenure as branch manager was soon terminated but Katherine Anne would deal with nobody but me."

Though Morris never encountered Porter in person, prior to their association he had been, and remained, an avid reader and fan of her work. At the time of the loan, Porter resided in a high-rise apartment in Westchester Park, a College Park, Maryland, complex and was a depositor in the University National Bank. Shortly after securing the loan, Porter travelled to New York city for a two-week engagement at Columbia University, where she wrote the letters to Morris. Sometime after their association ended, Morris moved to the very high-rise building in Westchester Park where had Porter lived from 1970 to 1980, in part, because it once had been her residence.

Arrangement

This collection consists of a single series:
Series 1
Correspondence

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Robert Morris donated the collection to the University of Maryland Libraries in 2000.

Related Material

The Papers of Katherine Anne Porter and other Porter-related collections in the Special Collections holdings of the University of Maryland Libraries contain correspondence of Porter that is contemporaneous with that she exchanged with Morris.

Processing Information

When necessary, staples and pins were removed. All materials were placed in an acid free folder. Items were arranged in chronological order.
Title
Guide to the Robert Morris papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Elizabeth Zinkham.
Date
2010-05
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212