Munger Family papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2001.06

Level of description



Munger Family papers


  • 1870-1936 (Creation)


5.00 Linear Feet, 1.00 Box

Name of creator


Biographical history

George Merrick Munger Sr. was born on January 17, 1839 in Bergen, Genesee County, New York, the son of Lyman and Martha Munger. In 1865, George Munger started a laundry business with two of his brothers in Chicago. On May 2, 1865, George married Susan Bingham Owens, daughter of John and Martha Owens. They had seven children (four of whom died in infancy). Alice Owens, Agnes Stoddard, Anna Pearce, Gaius M., Martha Louise, George Merrick, Jr., and Belinda Torrence; the latter three lived. George served as a Regent of Kansas State Agricultural College from 1897-1901. In 1887, George and his family moved to Greenwood County, Kansas seven miles north of Eureka. George named the property Catalpa Knob, an area of 2000 acres where he raised fruit trees as well as Catalpas. On August 9, 1908, George and Susan moved to Los Angeles where George died on October 29, 1919. Susan died six years later on May 23.
Martha Louise Munger, their oldest child, was born February 24, 1866 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first white woman to cross the Chilkoot Pass, near Skagway, Alaska, and have a child in the Yukon Territory. Later she became the second woman in the Canadian Parliament and was a member of the House of Commons. She wrote My Seventy Years, published in 1938. Another book, My Ninety Years, detailing the latter years of her life and career, was published in 1976. She married her first husband, Will Amon Purdy, in August or September of 1887, and together they had three children, Lyman, Donald, and Warren. On August, 1904, Martha married her second husband, George Black. He was a lawyer, who served as a captain during WWI, before being elected speaker to the Yukon Council three times and appointed seventh Commissioner of Yukon. Martha died October 31, 1957 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. At the funeral, her casket had both the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack flags laid across the top. George remarried after Martha's death and died on August 23, 1965 in Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.
George Merrick Munger, Jr., the middle of the three children, was born June 8, 1872 in Chicago, Illinois. He helped run his father's laundry business in St. Louis, Missouri. During the Gold Rush of 1897, he, along with his sister Martha, crossed the Chilkoot Pass to the Yukon Territory where they both lived fairly comfortably. George died February 1, [1938?] in State Tuberculosis Hospital, Salem Oregon.
Belinda (Belle) Torrence Munger, the youngest, was born April 3, 1883, in Chicago, Illinois. While in college she attempted a degree in engineering but found that women were not allowed in this field. On October 7, 1903, Belle married her first husband, Edward Palmer Riggle, son of John and Mary Riggle. Together they had two children, George Merrick Munger Riggle and Ed Palmer Riggle, Jr. When Belle's father and mother moved to California, she and Ed took over Catalpa Knob, Greenwood County, Kansas. Belle married her second husband, Irvin Hays Rice, after Ed's death on June 10, 1915. Mr. And Mrs. Rice were divorced on January 9, 1929. Belle died October 22, 1966 in Glendale, California.
Additional information about the Munger family is included in the three appendices at the end of this register: 1) biographical sketch of Martha Louise Munger Black, 2) Munger family chronology, 3) Munger generational line.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Munger Family papers documents three generations of correspondence within the family, on topics regarding their businesses, health, weather, and current events.

Part one includes correspondence between George Munger Sr. and his daughters Martha and Belle while they attended St. Mary’s in Notre Dame, Indiana. George Sr. corresponded with his wife, Susan while she was in the hospital for rheumatism during 1903. Other letters to George are from his father, Lyman Munger and his brother, Pliny Munger.

Part two is comprised of Belle Munger Riggle’s correspondence, which makes up the bulk of the collection. Letters between Belle and her husband, Edward, discuss business at Catalpa Knob and other places he worked as well as the welfare of their children. After Edward died in 1910, Belle married Irvin Hays Rice.

These letters provide historical information about the locations they were written from, which include Kansas, Illinois, California, and Indiana. Topics covered include business and economic matters, social and cultural life, family relationships, and conditions of the United States during the span of this collection.

System of arrangement

The Munger Family papers consists of one box of correspondence arranged in three parts. Part one (1870-1914) consists of correspondence addressed to George Munger Sr. Part two (1894-1936) is addressed to Belle Munger Riggle. Part three consists of undated correspondence. Parts one and two are filed in chronological order.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

It received accession number P2001.06.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Donation
Acqusition Method: In addition to the Munger correspondence donated by Dixie Huntington, the University Archives contains two other collections of Munger/Riggle papers. The first was donated by George Merrick Munger Riggle (grandson to George Munger) in 1985. It consists of seven journals of George Munger. George Merrick Munger Riggle also made the second donation in 1986, consisting of eleven diaries/journals.
Acqusition Date: 19850101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

The majority of the collection contains incoming and outgoing correspondence between the Munger and Riggle families (George Munger's daughter, Belle, married a Riggle) living in different locations, primarily Kansas, Illinois, California and Indiana. The contents include personal and business matters as well as weather, health and current events. These letters provide a wealth of historical information about the locations from which they were written, business and economic matters, social and cultural life, family relationships, and conditions of the United States during this lengthy period.


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Specialized notes

  • Citation: [Item title], [item date], Munger Family papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Christy Birney and Cindy Harris
Processing Info: Processing of the Munger Family Correspondence and the preparation of the register, including the biographical information on the Munger family, were completed by Christy Birney in the fall of 2003 and the spring of 2004. The University Archives accession number for the collection is P2001.06.
Archon processing by Edward Nagurny, graduate research assistant, January 2015.
Cindy Harris and Helena Egbert revised the Scope and Content Note in 2020.

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