Table of Contents
Honorable William Morgan Butler (1861-1938) William Morgan Butler was born in New Bedford, the last of thirteen children in a family of a Methodist minister. He graduated from Boston University Law School in 1884. He practiced law in New Bedford until 1895 and was active in public affairs. He served as State Representative from 1890 to 1891 and as a State Senator from 1892 to 1895. In 1895 he moved to Boston where he continued to practice law until 1912 when he become involved in cotton manufacturing. In 1895 he married Minnie F. Norton of Edgartown. Their children were Morgan, Gladys, Miriam, Beatrice and Mary.
He established the law firm of Butler, Cox, Murchie & Bacon around 1896. He retired from it in 1912 to devote his time to his increasing industrial interests, including Butler Mills, the Quissett Mills, the Hoosac Mills and the New Bedford Cotton Mills. He amassed a large fortune between 1902 and 1922. He served as a director on numerous Boards of Directors. When Calvin Coolidge became President in 1923, upon the death of Warren G. Harding, Butler was summoned to Washington as an advisor. He was made a member of the Republican National Committee. He later became chairman of that committee. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate upon the death of Henry Cabot Lodge in 1924. He served for almost two years. He ran for that office in 1930, won the Republican nomination but was defeated in the election.
Morgan Butler (1889-1949) Morgan Butler was born in New Bedford. He attended St. Mark’s school and graduated from Harvard in 1911. While still in school, he worked in the Butler Mills during the summer. He was appointed treasurer of the Butler Mills in New Bedford in 1913 and held that position for many years.
Morgan Butler married his first wife, Bernice Fisher of Chicago in 1913. She was an accomplished opera singer. They had a son, William Morgan Butler II in 1917 and a daughter, Elizabeth Butler Burke. He married his second wife, Mrs. Isabelle (Jennings) Firuski in 1948. Morgan Butler was an avid yachtsman. He sailed and raced the ketch, Malabar XIII.
Bernice Fisher Butler (died 1949) Bernice Fisher was the daughter of Alva J. Fisher. She and her family lived in Chicago. Her family is descended from the Spooner family. She married Morgan Butler in 1913. They had two children. She was an accomplished opera singer.
William Morgan Butler II (1917-2003) William M. Butler II was born in New Bedford. At the age of seventeen he sailed on the George B. Cluett (Schooner) of the Grenfell Mission to Newfoundland and Labrador. He sailed on the Aldebaran (Schooner) a yacht formerly owned by the German Kaiser. In 1939 he sailed as first mate aboard the “Florence C. Robinson,” a three-masted, square-rigged brigantine. The captain was the well-known Hollywood actor, Sterling Hayden, an accomplished seaman. They sailed from Gloucester to Tahiti. "Bill" Butler traveled on to New Zealand and on to Australia. During W. W. II, he was a lieutenant commander in the Navy. He was also a pilot. After the war he joined the family textile business. He was married to Barbara Wiley and later, Joyce Towle.
The Butler Family Papers represents the collected papers and photographs of three generations of family members spanning over one hundred years of their lives and careers. The papers in this collection principally focus on William Morgan Butler (1861-1938), Morgan Butler (1889-1949), his wife, Bernice Fisher Butler (d. 1949), and William Morgan Butler II (1917-2003). These three generations of the Butler Family were very active in the New Bedford and Boston areas as well as on the larger scene of Washington DC and other parts of the world. Their interests were mainly in the textile business in New Bedford, the law, politics and in yachting in the local waters as well as more remote places. They maintained homes at Salter’s Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Boston. William Morgan Butler was an active political figure in Massachusetts and on the national political scene.
The collection has been arranged into series by family member and in chronological order with undated materials following. The collections of news paper clippings have been arranged by family member. The photographs have been separated from the collection and removed to the photo archives for storage and cataloging. There is one photograph album and one album of news paper articles. The collection includes four bibles and other ephemera.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to Collections
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 117, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Materials in this collection were donated to the New Bedford Whaling Museum by the Butler family of New Bedford in 2011, Accession #2011.102.
Processed by: Jalien Hollister, 2012
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 4 August 2013
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Associated Mills Companies
Bahamas International Lands Ltd.
Boston Pops Orchestra
Bureau of Vocational Counsel, Inc.
Burke, Elizabeth Butler, d. 1960
Butler, Bernice Fisher, d. 1949
Butler, Hon. William M., 1861-1938
Butler, Joyce Towle
Butler, Morgan, 1889-1949
Butler, William M., 2nd, 1917-2003
Catholic Women's Club (New Bedford, Mass.)
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933
Cruising Club of America
Everett, F. Chester
Florence C. Robinson (Brig)
Fuller, Alvah T.
George B. Cluett (Schooner)
Graalfs, Kapitain K.
Grinnell, Elizabeth B.
Grinnell, Lawrence, 3rd
Hale, Sanderson, Byrnes & Morton
Inter City Airline (Boston, Mass.)
Kester, Rev. Reese B.
Malabar XIII (Ketch)
Opera Society of Chicago
Papeete (French Polynesia)
Republican Women's Club (New Bedford, Mass.)
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
S.S. Santa Barbara
Salter's Point (Dartmouth, Mass.)
Skardarsay, Franz or Frank K.
Textile Research Co. Corp.
United States Trust Company
United States. Army. Air Corps
- Sailors’ Series Lectures
- Lecture Series: Famine, Friends & Fenians
- February Vacation Week
- Lecture: Curators discuss Artist Albert Pinkham Ryder
- New Bedford Lyceum: Bob Woodward
- Symposia: Inner Light – The World of William Bradford
- Second Half Lectures: Influential Women
- 8th Annual Nautical Antiques Show
- 29th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend
- 2017 Members’ Trip
- Annual Family Activities
- Community Programs
- Annual Events
- Past Programs
- Exhibit Enhancements
- Discovery Center
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe