The University Library is properly and increasingly becoming. Depository of research collections of great present and future value to historians and other scholars. Housed in our fire-proof library building, properly indexed, with a staff in constant attendance, they are available not only to the undergraduates, graduate students and Faculty of Princeton; but midway between New York and Philadelphia, and not far from Washington, Boston and other cities, they are proving of increasing value to all students. The more the resources of our Library increase, the more widespread becomes the knowledge of Princeton as a center of learning.

It seems eminently appropriate and desirable that our collections relating to the life and work of our most distinguished alumnus, Woodrow Wilson ’79, should be second to none in the world. Especially does it seem most appropriate that there should be gathered and permanently housed in our library building everything relating to Woodrow Wilson as a student, scholar, and teacher.

While it may be admitted that the Congressional Library at Washington should have the originals of important documents, correspondence, etc., relating to his public career, Princeton, as the place where he studied, taught for twenty years and presided as President for eight years, has a prior claim to those things which relate to his academic life.

Recognizing these facts, the Library Committee of the Board of Trustees immediately, at the time of Mr. Wilson’s death, authorize the Library to secure through a clipping service all articles published about him in the American press for a period of thirty days. These are now being mounted and will be preserved in large folio scrapbooks.

Friends of Princeton, regardless of politics, have places in the possession of the Library a modest sum sufficient to enable it to gather available books and other purchasable matter related to our ex-President’s manifold activities.

But the real value of this collection will depend upon the interest of all Princeton men in going through their own files, and collecting from them and from others correspondence with and articles and addresses by or upon Mr. Wilson; in fact, everything relating directly or indirectly to his life.

With the approval of the President and Board of Trustees, we are broadcasting this appeal through the columns of The Alumni Weekly, in the earnest hope that all friends of Princeton, particularly the alumni, will interest themselves at once in this effort. All collectors know that very shortly it will be most difficult to secure many things of value and interest for this collection. In private hands they will not only be widely scattered, lost, or, worst of all, permanently destroyed by fire or otherwise.

Not only will we welcome the deposit of such Wilsoniana permanently in the University Library, but when for any reason this is undesirable, we will accept them as a loan; and welcome the privilege of taking photographic copies of any papers, letters or documents of special value. We will be grateful for suggestions from alumni as to where we may secure matter of value for this Princeton collection.

All contributions to the collection should be sent and all correspondence addressed to the Librarian of the University.

Believing that for Princeton’s sake there will be widespread prompt response to this necessarily urgent appeal,

Very truly yours,

James Thayer Gerould,


This was originally published in the June 11, 1924 issue of PAW.