William George Morgan (1870-1942)

Inventor of Volleyball

The sport of volleyball has reached global popularity, with its origin being traced back to a Western New Yorker whose vision created one of the most participated sports in the world.


William George Morgan was born in Lockport to parents, George and Nancy.  His father was a ship carpenter and his mother kept house on Olcott Street.  William spent his childhood years attending public school and working at his father’s boat yard on the banks of the Old Erie Canal. He later carried out his undergraduate studies at Springfield College in Massachusetts in 1892.


It was in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1895 that Morgan invented a sport he named Mintonette, a less vigorous activity for participants that still required significant athletic skill. While watching Morgan demonstrate the game to his students, Dr. Alfred S. Halstead suggested the sport be renamed volleyball as the object of the game was to volley the ball back and forth over the net.


Morgan left the Holyoke YMCA in 1897 to pursue a career with General Electric and Westinghouse. He continued a strong tie with Springfield College and the game he created throughout the rest of his life stating that he was “content in the knowledge that the game brought a richer life to millions of people throughout the world”. William G. Morgan died at his home on Elmwood Ave on December 28, 1942, yet the game he invented continues to draw attention to this modest, inventive, and generous man.  In 1951 the United States Volleyball Association, at its 23rd annual meeting, presented a scroll to George Morgan, William’s son, in memory of his father’s contribution to the world sport.  In 1985, William G. Morgan was honored with the distinction of being the first inductee of the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts.