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Dr. Morris Young

Magician and Magic Collector

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  • 1909-2002
  • Real Name: Morris N. Young
  • Birthday: July 20
  • Birthplace: United States
  • Buried: ?

Dr. Morris Young had a passion for magic.

A successful eye surgeon, Dr. Young was also very interested in the art of magic and the skill of mnemonics, or memory by association.

To that end, he amassed one of the largest book collections on magic ever assembled. With his friend, New York attorney John McManus, he collected more than 20,000 items, some dating back to the 16th century. In 1955, they donated the collection to the Library of Congress. The McManus-Young Collection is today an invaluable resource for magic research.

Dr. Young's interest in magic started when, as a young boy, he saw Houdini perform his suspended strait jacket stunt. He was lucky enough to get the opportunity to shake Houdini's hand afterward, which left a lasting impression.

Morris Young began to learn magic tricks, especially quirky ones. By age 17, he could rigidly suspend himself between two chairs, balanced only by his head and toes.

In the early 1920's, he was invited by Houdini himself to join the Society of American Magicians.

After graduating from both M.I.T. and Harvard, Dr. Young made his lving in medicine but kept up his avid fascination with magic and mnemonics.

Even his medical skills were occasionally used for magical purposes. He regularly treated the eyes of China Boy, Litzka Raymond's trained chicken who performed in her magic act.

In 1950, he co-founded the Magic Collectors Association. He also edited their publication, Magicol.

After donating his magic books, he began collecting books on mnemonics, eventually creating the largest collection on the subject. Those books were eventually donated to the University of San Marino in Italy.

Dr. Young was an author as well as a collector. He penned Presto Prestige in 1929, Hobby Magic in 1950, The Art and Craft of Magic in 1957, and Bibliography of Memory in 1961. He also co-authored two books on Houdini with Walter Gibson.

Dr. Young's wife, Chesley V. Young, also wrote a book on magic.

Read the Dr. Morris Young article in the New York Times


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