Collecting institutions and museums across Virginia and Washington D.C. have nominated items from their collections that they believe tell a significant story and deserve to be recognized as one of “Virginia’s Top Ten Endangered Artifacts.”  These items may be ones that are currently being conserved, have a plan to be conserved or are simply in need of conservation.  The campaign showcases the importance of Virginia’s diverse history, heritage, and culture and the role artifacts play in telling those stories. 

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum has nominated Ellen Wilson’s Princeton Inaugural Gown as one of Virginia’s “Top Ten Endangered Artifacts”.  The gown was worn by Ellen Axson Wilson, first wife of President Woodrow Wilson, when she attended her husband's inauguration as President of Princeton University in 1902. Ellen Wilson was an accomplished artist, and she made this gown herself.  Over many years of display in high-light, high-traffic environments, the gown’s silk has become brittle in the most exposed areas, leading to numerous splits and tears. The fabric of the skirt has suffered the most and is now friable, making display in its current state impossible.

The nominations for this prestigious award will be reviewed by an independent panel of collections and conservation experts, and the Top Ten honorees, as well as a “People’s Choice” honoree will be announced September 9th.  Public voting for the award will begin August 4th and continues through August 23rd at 

“Conservation is a vital component of our mission, and Virginia’s Top Ten campaign offers an interactive opportunity for supporters of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum to become engaged in bringing the importance of this mission into the public spotlight,” said Don Wilson, CEO and President of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

“Virginia’s Top Ten Endangered Artifacts” is a program of the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM).  VAM is the resource network of the Virginia and Washington D.C. museum community, providing education, technical assistance, and advocacy. 

Please show your support for the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library by voting for Ellen Wilson's Gown by visiting  from August 4th- August 23rd.  


did you know?

Wilson was president throughout World War I. He sought a neutral position for the United States and even won reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Nonetheless, actions by the Central Powers (notably Germany) threatened this neutrality. Following years of attacks on American shipping and citizens on the high seas, particularly the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, public opinion began to turn. The final straw came with the release of the Zimmerman Telegram, forcing the United States to declare war on the Central Powers in April of 1917, joining the war on the side of the UK, Russia, and France.

Woodrow Wilson was President when the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington's tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements.

He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "The Constitution was not made to fit us like a straitjacket. In its elasticity lies its chief greatness."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

The Seventeenth Amendment was formally adopted on May 31, 1913. Wilson had been president for almost three months at the time. The amendment provided for the direct election of senators. Prior to its adoption, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He had received his undergraduate degree from the College of New Jersey, renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Woodrow Wilson could not read during the first decade of his life. Though undiagnosed, he may have suffered from a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson was known as "Tommy" until his college years.

Woodrow Wilson during his boyhood, helped establish the "Lightfoot Baseball Club" with his friends. Wilson played second base and was an avid sport fan throughout his adult life.

Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend the Major League Baseball Fall Classic. He saw the debut of a young 20 year old pitcher by the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

Woodrow Wilson was a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and the only president to hold an earned doctoral degree.

Woodrow Wilson image is on the $100,000 bill although it is no longer in circulation