Special Projects Archivist Dr. Colin Woodward spent the past two years working with and organizing the papers of the late Lt. Gen. Samuel V. Wilson, who served as College president from 1992 to 2000. The collection, which numbers 307 boxes containing thousands of letters, military records, photographs, speeches, personal writings, and family correspondences, is the centerpiece of the newly created Hampden-Sydney College Archives and Special Collections. Director and Curator of the Atkinson Museum Angela Way collaborated with Dr. Woodward, Dr. Richard McClintock, and Hampden-Sydney students to curate the exhibit.
Among the items on display are Wilson’s desk and Special Forces uniform, as well as photographs from his life and career. The oldest find in the otherwise mostly 20th century collection was a handwritten Hampden-Sydney bachelor’s degree from the 1700s that was issued to one of Wilson’s ancestors. Woodward found that the most interesting items were photos and letters related to Wilson’s time in the elite World War II unit, Merrill’s Marauders.
Wilson wrote extensively of his experience during his tenure as 22nd president at Hampden-Sydney. He was chosen by trustees who charged him with leading the institution to a return to robust stability and growth. “General Sam” became a very popular leader with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others, and after eight years, turned the College over to the next president in much better shape than he had found it. Among his reflections, he said,