In December 2020, Special Collections & Archives was proud to host Dr. Edwin G. Wilson as he spoke about his new book Songs of Wake Forest. Over 1,000 Deacs joined us for the celebration, often sharing their fond memories on the chat. To date, nearly 5,000 people have watched the program online.

The overwhelming response inspired us to create Songs for Dr. Wilson, a collection of tributes from alumni and others that shared how much he meant to them and what he means to the campus as “Mr Wake Forest.” Over 100 alumni responded, and we were able to present Dr. Wilson with a special book containing these messages for his 98th birthday in February 2021.

But we wanted to do more. Thanks to the energy and dedication of ZSR Board of Visitors members Dr. Heber H. “Dickie” Newsome (‘58) and Jane Crosthwaite (‘59 and former Assistant Dean of Women; Professor Emerita-Mt. Holyoke) we were able to do just that. Dickie and Jane worked with members of the Delta Nu fraternity and other supporters to quietly gather the funds necessary to bring in an intern to process outstanding papers in the Wilson Collection. What happened next is quintessential Wake Forest.

Emily Wilson (MA ’62, P ’91, ’93) was so touched by the work that this group was doing that she and Dr. Wilson (‘43) took the project to the next level. Their support has enabled us to expand the project to include the collections of those Dr. Wilson celebrated in Songs of Wake Forest and other Wake Forest luminaries.

Thanks to the funds raised by this dedicated group of Demon Deacs, we were able to promote Finley Turner, our Reference Assistant. The amazing work she did on the Wake Forest University Timeline convinced us she would be the perfect person to supervise the project. As our Processing & Reference Assistant, Finley is working on the processing of WFU faculty collections, in addition to Dr. Wilson’s papers. She will also prioritize items from their collections for conservation and digitizing.

But we would like to do even more!

We would like to hire students to help Finley, as well as continue her appointment. We also have in mind a series of programs to honor both Dr. Wilson and these individuals who have meant so much to Wake Forest and to connect them with our current campus community. We would like to expand our oral history project and create other unique programming in their names.

To that end, we are now putting out a call to all Deacons who wish to support these projects and honor Dr. Wilson. If you are interested in supporting this work, please go to this web site and make your donation today!