Wilson Archival Update

Since last reporting, the processing of the Samuel Vaughan Wilson Papers is finishing up. All photographs and documents have been placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Dr. Colin Woodward, the Project Archivist, has organized the collection at the folder level to allow for easy access to materials. He has also compiled an extensive and detailed finding aid that he will upload to ArchivesSpace, Hampden-Sydney’s online archival catalog.

Researchers can view the finding aid on the internet through the new Archives & Special Collections library portal. The finding aid will also be made available as a downloadable PDF file. The finished finding aid will be approximately 300 pages long, with a detailed breakdown of all items in the collection and where they are located.

The collection, which numbers 307 boxes, is organized into various series covering major portions of Sam’s life and career, with materials organized chronologically within each series. The papers begin with Wilson family genealogical material before moving into Sam’s early military career, including his time in Merrill’s Marauder’s during World War II, his Cold War era intelligence work, and his time as an advisor and commander in Vietnam. Sam’s papers include thousands of letters, military records, and photographs as well as Sam’s speeches, personal writings, and family correspondence. Known as the Samuel Vaughan Wilson Papers, this collection is the centerpiece of the newly created Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections.

In April, the Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum opened an exhibit dedicated to General Wilson. The exhibit contains photographs and memorabilia chosen by Dr. Woodward for the exhibit. Among the items on display are Sam’s desk and Special Forces uniform, as well as many photographs from his life and career. Angela Way, director and curator of the Atkinson Museum, worked together with Dr. Woodward, Richard McClintock, and student assistants to put the exhibit together. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will run through the end of the fall semester.

In April, Colin Woodward and Ryan Pemberton held an online Q&A session to discuss the Wilson collection. The session was well attended, with many people viewing the discussion virtually. Ryan and Colin talked for about an hour, discussing General Wilson’s life and the processing of the collection.  In late May, Dr. Woodward is driving to meet Colonel Sam Wilson, Jr. at his home in New Jersey. Sam Jr. has additional books, maps, and archival material that he wishes to donate to the Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections. Colin will integrate the new material into the collection before the project concludes in June.