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Eugene H. Wilson papers

Identifier: COU:1741

Scope and Contents

The Eugene H. Wilson Collection is mainly comprised of fiscal reports dating from 1943-1966, correspondence with various Universities from April, 1961-December, 1971, and minutes from the Board of Regents’ monthly meetings. The collection also contains information on the Coalition for Boulder’s Future along with records of building development for the University of Colorado. Publications such as Laws and Policies of the Regents and Study of CU Education 1890-1977 are in this collection. There are also files of records for the American Library Association from 1954-1958 along with information on the Werlg Foundation.


  • 1943 - 1986

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Historical Note

Eugene Holt Wilson was born in Harrison, Arkansas, on May 13, 1909. He attended the University of Arkansas from 1926 to 1928, and graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College with a BA in 1930. He received his Bachelor of Science (1932), Master of Arts (1933) and his Ph.D. (1937) from the University of Illinois.

His first job was in newspaper work in Conway, Arkansas, from 1930 to 1931. However, while attending graduate school at the University of Illinois, he began a long career in Libraries from 1933 to 1937. In 1937, he wrote Pre-Professional Background of Students in a Library School. From the year 1937 to 1938, he served as librarian at Ohio Wesleyan University. He then transferred to Iowa State University, as assistant librarian, from 1938 until 1942. From 1940-41, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University. In 1943, he was Chief of the Division of Technical Processed, US Department of Agriculture Library.

Wilson was appointed by the University of Colorado to be the Director of Libraries and Professor of Library Science in 1943, a post he held until 1960, when he took on University administrative duties. As Director of Libraries, he was able to build on the career of his predecessor Ralph Ellsworth, by making sure the library system he inherited kept up with the needs of a transforming campus. In 1943, the brand new library served a largely militarized campus of less than 4,000 students. By 1957, the campus enrollment had more than doubled, and the university had already begun its metamorphosis into a leading research institution.

Prior to his shift to administration, Dr. Wilson had been the Director of the University of Colorado Summer Session between 1946 and 1948, and Acting Dean of Faculties, 1955-1956, and 1963. He was appointed Associate Dean of Faculties in 1957 and Dean of Faculties between 1958 and 1959. He became Vice President and Professor of Education in 1959 until 1964 and Vice President for Business Affairs from 1964 until 1971, and Secretary of the University and Secretary of the Board of Regents from 1970 until 1972. He was appointed professor of education, emeritus in 1972.

As an administrator, he presided over faculty and business affairs during a time of enormous university growth and change. University administration grew in size and developed in complexity, from one vice president to eight vice presidents, with subordinate offices proliferating, as well. Campus enrollment and staffing had doubled between 1958 and 1968. The campus scientific and research facilities grew to include the cyclotron, new physics, engineering, and psychology buildings, new laboratory institutes in conjunction with federal science efforts at the National Bureau of Standards and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. In 1966, the university joined the Association of American Universities. Wilson was appointed president of the university for three months during one of its most tumultuous periods, the Vietnam protest era. President Smiley had just stepped down after the several years of acrimony between vociferous anti-war protesters, the Students for a Democratic Society, and the conservative Colorado state government, newspapers and public. Frederick Thieme, who was appointed three months later, was to face even more public controversy as president. Vice President Wilson remarked that he was not a candidate for the permanent job, “I had a lot of things I wanted to do, and I’d been in administration for thirty-five years, and that was enough.” He had served the University from its days as a teaching institution before the end of World War II until its complete transformation into a multi-campus, research oriented mega-university by 1972. After retiring in 1972, he was appointed to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Colorado Post-Secondary Educational Facilities Authority.

As a collegian, he was a member of the educational honorary fraternities Phi Delta Kappa and Kappa Delta Pi, and Phi Beta Mu, the Library Science Honor Society. He was also a member of Pi Kappa Alpha social fraternity. During his career, he had published widely in the field of library science. He was active in dozens of professional and business associations. He was a member and executive board member of the American Library Association, director of the Association of College and Research Libraries, and vice chairman of the Association of Research Libraries. He was also a member of the American Association of University Professors, president of the Colorado Library Association, Bibliographical Center of Research in the Rocky Mountain Region, the U.S. Air Force Academy Library Advisory Board, Boulder Public Library Commission, First Methodist Church of Boulder and the Wesley Foundation at the University of Colorado, and the Boulder Rotary

He married Jane Margaret Stoddard on August 10, 1937. Together they had three children: David Eugene (1939), John Stoddard (1941), and James Frederick (1948). On January 27, 1986, Eugene Wilson died of heart failure at the age of 76.


34.5 linear feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials



Eugene H. Wilson (1909-1986), was Library Director, Dean of Faculties, Vice President and President at the University of Colorado between 1943 and 1972. The collection contains information on the Coalition for Boulder’s Future, as well as, records relating to much of the financial and academic history of University of Colorado during his tenure.


This collection is arranged in original order in which we attained it from the donor, with a box level inventory list.

In Progress
Surveyed by: Olivia H. Aldinger, October, 2014
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States