Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is a complex located in Staunton, Virginia. It contains the President's birthplace, known as the "Manse", a Museum that explores the life and times of Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), a 6,800 square feet (630 m2) Research Library, a gift shop, and several other buildings that are not open to the public. As Woodrow Wilson's presidency predates the National Presidential Libraries act, it is not part of the Federal National Archives' Presidential library system.

The Birthplace Manse

The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace is referred to as The Manse, which is the name of a Presbyterian minister's home. The Manse was constructed in 1846 by the Staunton First Presbyterian Church. It has twelve rooms with twelve fireplaces, and cost about $4,000. The Wilson family moved into the house in 1855 as his father was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor and called to serve as a pastor in Staunton.[4] At that time the family consisted of his two parents, Jessie Woodrow Wilson and Joseph Ruggles Wilson, and their two daughters Marion and Annie, who were about four and two years old, respectively.[4] Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in what is now called the "birth room" on December 28, 1856. The Wilsons left The Manse in 1858 when Joseph Wilson accepted a call from a congregation in Augusta, Georgia.[5]

Wilson continued to visit Staunton throughout his life and often called Staunton his home. After his election to the Presidency in 1912, Wilson and his wife Ellen visited Staunton over his birthday in December of that year and spent two nights in the Manse as a guest of his good friend Rev Frazier who was then the Minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Staunton

After the Wilsons moved out of The Manse it remained the Presbyterian minister's until the 1920s. It was after the former President's death in 1924 that his widow Edith Bolling Galt Wilson along with former cabinet members and Staunton community members decided to create a Birthplace museum to commemorate Wilson's life.

The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation was officially incorporated in 1938, and the house was restored to its 1850s look over the next 80 years, which included removing bathrooms, changing light fixtures, and stripping paint. The house was opened to the public in 1941, being formally dedicated as a museum by President Franklin D. Roosevelt

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.[1] It is located in the Gospel Hill Historic District.

The Library

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library houses Woodrow Wilson materials from during and immediately after his lifetime, memoirs of those who worked with him, and governmental volumes concerning World War I.[6] The library is located at 235 East Beverley Street in Staunton, Virginia.[7]

The Library has the third largest collection of Woodrow Wilson Papers. Wilson's official papers are located at The Library of Congress. Princeton University also maintains a large collection of Wilson papers from his tenure as Professor and President of the University. The Woodrow Wilson Library focuses on the digitization all of the President's papers and other materials in order to make the papers more accessible to the general public. It is open to researchers by appointment only.

The Museum

The Museum, opened to the public in 1990,[8] is on North Coalter street two doors down from the Manse and in front of the library. The 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) Museum contains eight museum galleries that focus on the life and times of Wilson. Highlights of the museum include the president's 1919 Pierce Arrow limousine[9] and an interactive trench exhibit based on a World War I trench.

See also


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  3. ^ "Wilson, Woodrow, Birthplace". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library: Visit the Museum – Additional Information: The Manse". Woodrowwilson.org. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  5. ^ Frank S. Melvin (June 1972). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Woodrow Wilson Birthplace" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. and Accompanying photo
  6. ^ "The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library: Learn at the Library". Woodrowwilson.org. Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  7. ^ "The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library: Visit the Museum". woodrowwilson.org. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  8. ^ https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/VAmainstreet/woo.htm
  9. ^ "The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library: Visit the Museum – Additional Information: The Pierce Arrow Limousine". woodrowwilson.org. April 4, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2015. http://www.woodrowwilson.org/museum/pierce-arrow

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