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Inventory of the Henry Lane Wilson papers

Finding aid prepared by Claude Zachary, 1999

Summary Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
Wilson, Henry Lane, 1857-1932
Henry Lane Wilson papers
Collection no.
Date [inclusive]
1.0 linear ft., 2 boxes
Textual materials [Box]
Correspondence, clippings, publications, photographs from the career of diplomat Henry Lane Wilson (1859-1932), with particular reference to U.S. relations with Mexico, including the "El Chamizal" border dispute.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Henry Lane Wilson papers, Collection no. 0002, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

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Henry Lane Wilson was born on November 3, 1857 in Crawfordsville, IN, the son of James Wilson, a congressman, soldier in the Mexican and Civil Wars, and diplomat. He graduated from Wabash College in 1879, read law in Indianapolis, and practiced briefly until 1882, when he became the owner and editor of the Lafayette, Indiana, Journal. In 1885 he and his wife Alice moved to Spokane, WA, where he practiced law and engaged in banking and real estate sales. He prospered until 1893, when the financial panic and depression took most of his money. An active Republican, Wilson campaigned for his older brother John, a member of the House of Representatives and Senator from Washington state, and supported Presidents Harrison and McKinley. On June 9, 1897, McKinley appointed him as U.S. Minister to Chile, where he remained until 1904; Theodore Roosevelt appointed him U.S. Minister to Belgium, 1905-10; and he served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, 1910-13, during the Taft and Woodrow Wilson administrations. During World War I, Wilson was president of the Indiana branch of the League to Enforce Peace, resigning in January 1917 because he thought some of its leaders were advocating a world alliance as proposed by President Wilson. During the Harding and Coolidge years, Wilson remained active in business and served as counsel for US oil interests in Latin America. He published a memoir, Diplomatic Episodes in Mexico, Belgium, and Chile in 1927. Wilson died in Indianapolis on December 22, 1932.

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Scope and Content

Correspondence, clippings, publications, photographs from the career of diplomat Henry Lane Wilson (1859-1932), with particular reference to U.S. relations with Mexico, including the "El Chamizal" border dispute.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189


COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access. Consult finding aid for additional information.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical material and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


Gift of Mrs. John Vajen Wilson, H.L. Wilson's daughter-in-law, 1965.

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications

Geographic Name(s)

  • Mexico--Foreign relations--Archival resources
  • United States--Foreign relations--Archival resources

Personal Name(s)

  • Buckley, William Frank, 1881-1958 -- Correspondence
  • Wilson, Henry Lane, 1857-1932 -- Archives
  • Wilson, Henry Lane, 1857-1932 -- Correspondence


  • Americans--Foreign countries--Archival resources
  • Diplomats--United States--Archival resources

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Collection Inventory

Series 1:  Correspondence   1.0 cubic foot

Scope and Contents note

The correspondence falls into 4 main groupings. The first group (1910-13) consists of Wilson's letters as Ambassador to Mexico. These letters deal with arrangements for settling in Mexico, routine embassy business, the American investor colony residing in Mexico, and Robert H. Murray, a columnist for the "Harper's Weekly" magazine. The second group (1922-23) consists of correspondence between Wilson and William F. Buckley, Sr. The third group (1926-29) consists of Wilson's attempts to answer and gain retractions for various critical articles published about him. The fourth group (1939-40) is correspondence by Wilson's sons John Vajen Wilson, a banker, and Warden McKeo Wilson, a diplomat, centering around clearing their father of further criticism published by "Time" magazine and "Saturday Evening Post".

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Series 2:  Hard-bound volumes   1.0 cubic foot

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