First Copy of League Covenant – Superimposed on the Cover, for the Purposes of This Illustration, Is the Text of the Much-Debated Article X
Princeton Alumni Weekly. February 26, 1943.

 The University Library has acquired the Ray Stannard Baker collection of books, newspaper clippings, pictures, government documents, correspondence files and records pertaining to Woodrow Wilson. This collection of historical source materials, made by Mr. Wilson’s authorized biographer, relates chiefly to his career during World War I and the Versailles Peace Conference.

In announcing the addition of these treasures to the Library, President Dodds said: “Its acquisition at this time has been made possible through the generous cooperation of Mr. Baker. It was the belief of Mr. Baker that President Wilson’s connection with Princeton, first as a graduate of the class of 1879 and later as a professor and as president from 1902 to 1910, underscored the appropriateness of placing his collection in the University Library.

“This is a belief both appreciated and shared at Princeton. President Wilson’s first inaugural address was typed by him in the Chancellor Green Library, where the original typescript now reposes and where the Baker Collection will be located. The Library already possess several hundred books and letters in its Wilsoniana Collection – the latest addition being a series of more than a hundred letters written by President Wilson to his classmate, Robert Bridges – and the much more complete Bake Collection will give great impetus and value to the historical sources at Princeton about our distinguished graduate and president who left to his country and to the world such a challenging body of thought and ideals concerning education and world peace.”

The Ray Stannard Baker collection includes approximately 800 volumes by and about Woodrow Wilson. Among these, some of the outstanding items are a first edition of “Congressional Government; a Study in American Politics,” Woodrow Wilson’s famous doctoral dissertation on the American system of government which was declined for publication by at least one publisher in 1883, but which, after publication, ran through twenty-four impressions between 1885 and 1912. The collection also includes first editions of Wilson’s “Constitutional Government in the United States,” published in 1908, “Division and Reunion,” published in 1893, “George Washington,” published in 1896, “Mere Literature and Other Essays,” also published in 1896, and “A History of the American People,” published in 1902. Altogether, the collection includes seventy-two volumes of books, articles, addresses and documents by Woodrow Wilson, some of them being presentation copies.

The greatest interest in the collection, both for scholars and collectors, centers in the manuscripts, typescripts, memoranda and documents pertaining to the Versailles Conference which Dr. Baker attended as director of the press bureau of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, and in the correspondence files, diaries and reports of Dr. Baker. Among the latter are twenty-five letters written by President Wilson to Dr. Baker between 1911 and 1924, including the last ever written by him. This letter, unsigned, was dictated only a few days before his death and contains a designation of Dr. Baker as his official biographer.

This part of the collection also includes several hundred letters written to Dr. Baker by members of the President’s immediate family, cabinet officials, public figures and friends. Among those whose letters are represented in the files are the following: Col. E. M. House, Joseph P. Tumulty, Walter Hines Page, E. A. Alderman, Newton D. Baker, William Jennings Bryan, Bainbridge Colby, Josephus Daniels, William Gibbs McAdoo, W. Mitchell Palmer, Bernard Baruch, John Sharp Williams, Carter Glass, William E. Borah, Vance C. McCormick, Champ Clark, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, James W. Gerard, Thomas W. Lamont, Breckinridge Long ’03, Cordell Hull and many others.

Perhaps of equal interest to political historians is a considerable body of correspondence between Dr. Baker and three of the notable public figures who shaped some of the issues which became crystallized in President Wilson’s administrations. These men were President Theodore Roosevelt, with whom Dr. Baker corresponded between 1898 and 1916, the late Louis D. Brandeis, whose letter cover the years 1909 to 1937, and Senator Robert M. LaFollette, whom Dr. Baker assisted in the preparation of his autobiography, the original manuscript of which is in the collection. Many of President Theodore Roosevelt’s letters to Dr. Baker are long discussions of some of the most important issues of the period and contain much biographical and historical interest. Only one of these letters has ever been published.

In addition to these important files of correspondence with notable figures, the collection contains many other documents, notes, diary entries and memoranda reflecting Dr. Baker’s own career as a public official. In the early part of 1918 Dr. Baker was sent to Europe as a secret commissioner of the State Department to study and report to Colonel House and President Wilson on the disruptive elements in the Allied countries, notably the peace-by-negotiation group and the activities of the radicals in England, France, and Italy. The original copies of Dr. Baker’s reports of his meetings with statesmen and leaders of the Leftists in the various countries are to be found in the collection. They have never been published, except for brief extracts. During this mission and also during the Versailles Conference, Dr. Baker kept a full diary of his almost daily conversations with President Wilson and of his duties as director of the press bureau. A typescript copy of this diary, as yet unpublished, is to be found in the collection.

Perhaps of equal interest to scholars and collectors are the more than two thousand items gathered by Dr. Baker as director of the press bureau of the American Commission at the Peace Conference. This includes the first copy of the Covenant of the League of Nations to come from the press, autographed by President Wilson and presented by him to Dr. Baker; a presentation copy, also designated as the first to be printed, of the Treaty of Versailles; originals of bulletins and notes from the press bureau, including one document written and corrected by Herbert Hoover; secret copies of the agenda of the Council of Ten and of the Supreme Economic Council. Some of these documents were used by President Wilson himself in the meetings and bear his marginal notations.

The collection also contains the reports of numerous committees and sub-committees, including the valuable report of the Aeronautical Commission prepared by the late General Mitchell. That part of the collection pertaining to the Peace Conference also contains hundred of photographs, clippings, manuscript material relating to Russia, the organization and chronological file of the press bureau, the summary of the conditions of peace and the memorandum respecting the German colonies.

Dr. Baker who is at present using parts of the collection in the preparation of his autobiography made the following comment upon the transfer of his collection of Wilsoniana to the University: “I believe that Princeton is the best possible place for the collection and I also firmly believe that, as the present war approaches a settlement, there will be a greatly enhanced interest in Woodrow Wilson, in his principles and policies, and in his tragic efforts to secure a just and constructive peace.”

This was originally published in the February 26, 1943 issue of PAW.