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Woodrow Wilson

Archives & Special Collections
BiographyMedia Gallery

About This Exhibit

From 1913-1921, Woodrow Wilson was the American President, meaning he was one of the most powerful men in the world during one of the most significant periods in history. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries Archives & Special Collections is home to a variety of materials related to President Wilson, his leadership during World War I, and his involvement at the Paris Peace Conference.

This exhibit includes documents, items, and images from a number of different collections at the University of Nebraska and includes cartoons, books, postcards, posters, and photographs, along with a few miscellaneous items, all representative of President Wilson. Some of the items date back to Wilson’s schooling at Princeton, while the majority relate to his presidency, and more specifically, his involvement in World War I and the following Peace Conference at Paris in 1919. Also included is a bibliography of materials related to Woodrow Wilson which are also available in the Archives & Special Collections.

 Through the variety of materials presented here, this project will make available a number of items housed in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries Archives & Special Collections in order to provide better insight into the life and presidency of Woodrow Wilson, as well as some of the issues which were prevalent during this time.


Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856 in Staunton, Virginia to a Presbyterian minister, Dr. Joseph Wilson, and Janet Woodrow and was the third of four children. His father served in the Civil War as a chaplain with the Confederate army, and during the war, his church was used as a military hospital.

Wilson began his post-secondary education at Davidson College in North Carolina but, after a year, transferred to Princeton where he graduated from in 1879. He attended law school at the University of Virginia for one year but did not graduate and, in 1882, joined a University of Virginia classmate in his newly begun law practice. The practice was unsuccessful, and led Wilson to turn away from a career in law. He returned to school at John Hopkins University and earned his PhD in history and political science in 1886. His doctoral thesis, Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics, was published in 1885 and challenges the separation of the legislative and executive powers in America by comparing it with parliamentary government. The same year he married Ellen Louise Axson.

He taught at Bryn Mawr College and Wesleyan University before joining, and eventually becoming president of, Princeton University in 1902 where he became known for his ideas on education reform. In 1911 Wilson entered the political sphere as the Governor of New Jersey, bringing him a great deal of political acclaim. He won the 1912 presidential election by a landslide with the Republican ticket split between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1914, his wife Ellen passed away, and Wilson was remarried to Edith Bolling Galt in December 1915. His second Presidential term was won by a much closer margin. He realized that the United States could no longer remain neutral in the war, and the nation officially entered World War I in April of 1917. It consumed his second term as President.

Over the course of his presidency, Wilson passed many significant pieces of legislation, with some of the most notable being the Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Underwood Tariff, the Federal Farm Loan Act, and the Federal Reserve System.

Portraits and Scrapbook Images

Media Depictions of Wilson

Miscellaneous Exhibit Items

Poem about Wilson by UNL professor Fredrick M. Fling



Baker, Ray S. Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters. Vol. 1-3. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1927.

Creel, George. Wilson and the Issues. New York: The Century Co., 1916.

Farmer, Frances, ed. The Wilson Reader. New York: Oceana Publications, 1956.

Harris, Henry W. President Wilson; His Problems and His Policy. London: Headley Bros., Ltd., 1918.

Lansing, Robert. The Big Four and Others of the Peace Conference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921.

Lansing, Robert. The Peace Negotiations, a Personal Narrative. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921.

Seymour, Charles. Woodrow Wilson and the World War; a Chronicle of our own Times. New Haven: Yale UP, 1921.

Tumulty, Joseph P. “The Tribute of a Friend: an Address Delivered At Bethesda, Maryland, Thursday, October 28, 1920.” New York: Harper & Bros., 1920.

Tumulty, Joseph P. Woodrow Wilson as I Know Him. Toronto: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1921.

“Two Notable Articles About Woodrow Wilson.” The New York World and the New York Times. New York: 1911.

Wilson, Woodrow. On Being Human. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1916.

Wilson, Woodrow. The Present Task of Ministry. New York: Association Press, 1918.

Wilson, Woodrow. “The State and Federal Governments of the United States. a Brief Manual for Schools and Colleges.” Boston, New York: D. C. Heath & Co., 1889.


Wilson, Woodrow. “Address of Woodrow Wilson Governor of New Jersey before the Iroquois Club.” Hotel La Salle, Chicago, Illinois.: 12 February 1912.

Wilson, Woodrow. “Address of Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States to The League to Enforce Peace at Washington, May 26, 1916.” New York: 1916.

Wilson, Woodrow. “A Friend of Immigration: Speech of Governor Wilson to Delegation of Editors of Newspapers Published in Foreign Languages.” National Arts Club, New York.: 4 September 1912.

Wilson, Woodrow. “Speech of President Woodrow Wilson Accepting the Nomination for President by the Democratic Party Together with Address of Notification by Senator Ollie M. James of Kentucky.” Shadow Lawn, New Jersey.: 2 September 1916.

Wilson, Woodrow. “Woodrow Wilson’s Speech of Acceptance of the Nomination for President of the United States by the Democratic Party.” Sea Girt, New Jersey.: 7 August 1912.


This exhibit was originally written and created in 2008 by Sarah Dieter for the UNL Archives & Special Collections. It was updated for WordPress in 2023 by Ellie Russell thanks to the Schmidt Family Library Internship.