STAUNTON, VIRGINIA— The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum today announced that Dr. Don W. Wilson, former Archivist of the United States and Director of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, will become the President of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Foundation on July 1, 2009.  He will replace Eric Vettel, who has resigned to pursue other interests.  

Dr. A. Stanley Link, Jr., Chair of the Board of the WWPL, said, “We are honored that Don Wilson, one of the country’s foremost experts on presidential libraries, has agreed to lead the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.  We appreciate Dr. Vettel’s leadership over these last four years, and are confident that Dr. Wilson will help us continue to serve our mission of educating people of all ages about President Wilson and his times.”

A Kansas native, Dr. Wilson received his undergraduate degree from Washburn University in 1964 and his Masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1972 in American History from the University of Cincinnati.  He served as Historian and Deputy Director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, from 1969 to 1978, and Associate Director of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin from 1978 to 1981.  From 1981 to 1987, he served as the first Director of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library in Michigan.   

In the summer of 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed Dr. Wilson as the seventh Archivist of the United States.  He was confirmed by the United States Senate, and held the position until 1993.  As Archivist, Dr. Wilson oversaw the National Archives and Records Administration, which has custody of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation.  From 1993 to 1999, as the Executive Director of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, Dr. Wilson was responsible for the establishment and development of that presidential library, which opened in 1997.  During his service at these presidential libraries, Dr. Wilson served as a history professor at Kansas State University, the University of Michigan, Washburn University, and Texas A&M University.  

In 1999, Dr. Wilson established Don W. Wilson and Associates, a consulting firm, in Staunton, Virginia.  His clients have included the Mary Baker Eddy Library and Museum in Boston and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which Dr. Wilson advised in its efforts to host the George W. Bush Presidential Library.   

See the News-Virginian article about Dr. Wilson's appointment.

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