STAUNTON, VIRGINIA–The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum (WWPL) is pleased to partner with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia (OLLI at UVA) to present “America, Woodrow Wilson, and World War I,” a five-meeting class beginning in February at the Presidential Library. The class will be taught by World War I scholar William Walker, who will argue that World War I was the most significant event of the 20th century. An in-depth guided tour of the WWPL’s new World War I trench exhibit will be a special feature of the course. The class is one of eleven courses OLLI at UVA will offer in Staunton during the spring session, which begins February 7.

In the World War I course, Mr. Walker will discuss how the war dramatically altered the world in which we grew up, continues to affect our lives today, and will remain one of the most influential events for decades to come. The course will cover the full scope of the war, with particular emphasis on the American experience and the struggles of President Wilson, and will include lecture and discussion among the participants. The class will meet on five consecutive Wednesdays, from February 23 through March 23, and although the course had been filled to its limit of 15 students, Mr. Walker agreed to expand capacity due to interest. Another class offered by Mac Warford on the psychology of C.G. Jung also reached capacity and has been expanded.

William Walker, a Staunton resident, is writing a book about World War I. He wrote the panels for the WWPL’s new World War I trench exhibit and planned and co-led the Presidential Library’s World War I battlefield tour in France in October. Mr. Walker served as Associate Vice President for Public Affairs at the College of William and Mary from 1996 until 2006 and similar positions at Gettysburg College, Virginia Tech, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in English at the University of Virginia and completed his course work for his Ph.D. in English from Tulane University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson fellow.

OLLI at UVA brings together people from various backgrounds who share a common interest in learning and intellectual stimulation. Formed in association with the University of Virginia in 2001, the Institute was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s own deeply-held belief in, and practice of, education as a lifelong enterprise which invigorates the mind and enriches life. OLLI expanded to the Shenandoah Valley last fall. All classes except the World War I class will meet at the R.R Smith Center for History and Art in Staunton.

For more information about and to register for the World War I class and all of the OLLI at UVA classes, see the website at, or call or email OLLI at (877) 861-9207 or For more information about the WWPL, see the website at or call or email the WWPL (540) 885-0897 or

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