Woodrow Wilson, Scholar

Woodrow Wilson, Scholar

When the practice of the law in Atlanta failed to interest Wilson and did not seem to offer a clear route to the political world, he decided that a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University would open new doors. He had already succeeded in publishing his senior paper at Princeton on government and several articles during his time at Charlottesville. In the fall of 1883 he gave up on the law, parted from his fiance, and moved to Baltimore to pursue a degree in hopes of becoming a professor.

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Woodrow Wilson at Home

Woodrow Wilson at Home

Here at the museum, we often meet people who are traveling the United States in order to see the many presidential sites around the country. That recently got me thinking that you really could do a good tour of the East Coast just by focusing on the life of Woodrow Wilson. Stretching from Atlanta to Middlebury, Connecticut, the homes of Woodrow Wilson could show the dramatic changes that happened in our country just by tracking the lifetime of one man who lived from before the Civil War to middle of the 1920s. He was born into a household where the work was done by enslaved people and he led the world to forge mechanisms for international peace and to outline the steps to start decolonization.

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Woodrow Wilson, Student

Woodrow Wilson, Student

In 1870, Woodrow Wilson’s father, Joseph, moved the family from Augusta, Georgia to Columbia, South Carolina to start a new job as a theology professor and preacher. Woodrow, about to turn fourteen, spent a few years studying with several local tutors in town. While still a slow reader, he threw himself into academic work for the first time, immersing himself in literature, theology, and history.

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Ticket to Siberia

Ticket to Siberia

Just after the United States declared war on Germany in April of 1918, George Sosnowski sent Woodrow Wilson a letter warning of German plans to disable the military might of the newly-formed Russian democracy. President Wilson looked to the Kerensky government to bring freedom to the Russian empire, but he also feared  that a German move to disable their opponents on the Eastern Front would make America’s job on the western side much more difficult when US troops finally got to Europe.

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Woodrow Wilson, the Reader

Woodrow Wilson, the Reader

For more than fifty years, historians have discussed whether President Woodrow Wilson had dyslexia or some other type of difficulty reading. As a young boy, Tommy Wilson was considered stupid by some because of the hard time he had learning, though his parents remained confident of his abilities. Wilson told his wife later in life that he did not read until he was nine, and one of his daughters remembered him saying that he was not a confident reader until he was twelve. During his years in college, he complained of how slowly he read, and some have considered his enthusiasm for shorthand to be a sign that it freed him from the slow and troublesome work that taking notes presented him with. President Wilson often insisted on preparing drafts on his own, even for run-of-the-mill letters, though he usually did this on his personal typewriter or using shorthand.

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Woodrow Wilson Quotes

Woodrow Wilson Quotes

Respected as a scholar and writer in his own time, Woodrow Wilson has become famous for some pithy quotes. Oftentimes, though, his original thoughts can get lost in the desire to share something short and sweet. So we thought it was time to share some background and sources for some Wilson sayings you might have heard

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The Oldest Book at the Woodrow Wilson Library

The Oldest Book at the Woodrow Wilson Library

Here in the Library and Research Center, we have quite a few books that are older than you might expect. Not only have there been efforts to acquire volumes that represent what President Wilson’s father, Joseph R. Wilson, would have had in the Manse when working as a Presbyterian minister in Staunton in the 1850s, but donations have come in to us from the wider Wilson family and from collectors of anything ever owned by Woodrow Wilson.

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Margaret Wilson’s Spiritual Passage to India

Margaret Wilson’s Spiritual Passage to India

In 1932, President Wilson’s daughter Margaret discovered Sri Aurobindo’s  Essays on the Gita while browsing through the New York Public Library. She returned daily to read the book in the reading room until she finished it, after which she began corresponding with the author. In 1938 she requested permission to join his ashram in Pondicherry, India despite recurring health problems.

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President Wilson Memorial in Prague, Czech Republic

President Wilson Memorial in Prague, Czech Republic

Former US Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright had to live in exile with her family when she was a girl during the Nazi occupation of her native city of Prague, Czechoslovakia. Later, when the Communists took over the country’s government after World War II, her father took the family to the United States, where Madeleine became a citizen, raised a family and earned a PhD before joining the Carter administration. She is well aware of the troubled history of the Czech-speaking lands during the 20th century and before. And the Secretary of State knows very well the role that Woodrow Wilson played in creating the state of Czechloslovakia out of the wreckage of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the Great War.

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Prohibition: The Volstead Act

Prohibition: The Volstead Act

In 1919 the United States was technically still at war because Congress rejected the famed Versailles Treaty, which Wilson had worked so hard to pass. So when the Volstead Act was passed by the House and Senate and set before Wilson in October of 1919, it contained two sections: one that provided for the enforcement of the new Constitutional Amendment, and one that sought to enforce Wartime Prohibition, even though most Americans considered the war over.

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