During the 1960s, the need for a library department to house the University's rarest and most unique research materials arose with the acquisition of several important collections. K-State Libraries created the Special Collections Department in 1967. Twenty years later, the university formally acknowledged the need to collect and preserve its institutional records by establishing a university archives within special collections.  In 1997, the department was named in honor of Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse for their long-term support and the establishment of the Consumer Movement Archives.

Since its establishment, the Morse Department has become a vital epicenter for research pertaining to the consumer movement and cookery, Kansas and K-State history.