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Authority record
Journalist

Murray Morgan

  • 6.1.1
  • Person
  • 1916-2000

Murray Morgan was born in Tacoma in 1916 to Henry Victor and Ada Camille Morgan. His father, a Unitarian Universalist Minister, was the publisher of a monthly religious periodical while his mother wrote children's plays and poetry. As a student, he wrote for both his junior high and high school newspapers. Before his 1933 graduation from Stadium High School, Morgan's article "How to Second a Boxer," was published nationally in Scholastic Magazine. He enrolled at the University of Washington where he studied journalism and edited the UW Daily. He graduated cum laude in 1937 and then moved to Hoquiam to report on sports and local news for the Grays Harbor Washingtonian. He briefly returned to Seattle to edit the Seattle Municipal News. While there, he reunited with Rosa Northcutt, who had also attended UW and worked on the UW Daily. On March 5, 1939, Murray and Rosa were married in Tacoma. The couple went to Europe for their honeymoon where they embarked on a kayaking trip through Germany and Austria. Murray's reports on the trip were published in the Tacoma News Tribune. He then wrote for the Spokane Daily Chronicle before returning to the Grays Harbor Washingtonian as the City Editor. In 1941, he moved to New York City to pursue a Master's degree in journalism at Columbia University. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, media outlets expanded their operations and Murray began working on assignments for CBS, Time, and the New York Herald Tribune. Rosa attended his classes and took notes for him while he wrote. With her help, he completed the Master's program and was awarded a Pulitzer Fellowship. He and Rosa moved to Lake Patzcuaro, Mexico where Murray intended to study and write about the Mexican press. Just a few months after their arrival in Mexico, Murray was drafted into the army. His first book, a mystery called Day of the Dead, was published under the pen name Cromwell Murray in 1946. While stationed in the Aleutian Islands, Rosa encouraged Murray to write about the history of the island. She conducted research and sent the information to Murray. This resulted in his first history book, Bridge to Russia: Those Amazing Aleutians (1947). Murray was then transferred to the Pentagon to work as decoder. While in Washington, DC, he worked with Rosa to research the CSS Shenandoah which resulted in the book Dixie Raider (1948). The Morgans returned to Washington and lived on Maury Island where Murray wrote a second novel, The Viewless Winds. They then moved to Trout Lake where Murray would live for the rest of his life. He wrote for dozens of magazines and newspapers including Holiday, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, The Nation, and the Saturday Evening Post. He also worked as the copyeditor for the Tacoma Times and taught courses and advised the student newspaper at the University of Puget Sound. He briefly worked the graveyard shift as the bridgetender for the 11th Street Bridge which would later be renamed in his honor. In 1951, Murray's most successful book, Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle was published. In the early 1950s, Morgan added the role of broadcaster to his growing list of occupations. He and Jim Faber co-hosted a morning news program on KMO and then KTAC where they discussed Tacoma politics and became known for exposing and discussing corruption. In 1956, Morgan joined KTNT to host a morning program called "Our Town, Our World," which would continue for 15 years. In 1963, he started a regular review column for the Seattle periodical Argus. Between 1969 and 1981, he taught a course on Northwest history at Tacoma Community College. During this period, he also taught at Highline Community College, Pacific Lutheran University, and Fort Steilacoom Community College. Over the course of his career, he wrote or co-wrote 23 books. He died on June 22, 2000.