H.N. Bert Woolson collection on Albert Woolson, 1881-1964  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Woolson, H. N. (Bert)
Title
H.N. Bert Woolson collection on Albert Woolson
Dates
1881-1964 (inclusive)
1942-1956 (bulk)
Quantity
2.4 linear feet, (2 boxes)
Collection Number
WCMss.012
Summary
This collection includes clippings, scrapbook, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the last years of Albert Woolson, the oldset surviving Union veteran of the Civil War.
Repository
Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Penrose Library, Room 130
345 Boyer Avenue
Walla Walla, WA
99362
Telephone: 509-527-5922
Fax: 509-526-4785
archives@whitman.edu
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

H.N. (Bert) Woolson was born in 1916 to Dr. and Mrs. A.H. Woolson of Spokane, Washington. After graduating from Gonzaga Law School in 1940, he entered the Office of Strategic Services, where he served for four and a half years. In 1946 he moved to Walla Walla and opened a private law practice in Dayton, Washington. Later he held the position of prosecuting attorney of Columbia County and county coroner, then became the mayor of Dayton in 1964. His paternal grandfather was Albert Woolson.

Albert Woolson (1847-1956), the last living Union veteran of the Civil War, was born in Watertown, New York on February 11, 1847. When he was fifteen, his family moved to Minnesota. In October 1864, he enlisted in the Union army as a volunteer private in Company C of the First Minnesota heavy artillery regiment. He served as a drummer boy in Chattanooga, Tennessee for slightly less than a year.

After his discharge from the army in September 1865, Woolson worked at a variety of jobs, many in the field of engineering. He settled permanently in Duluth, Minnesota in 1905.

He married Sarah Jane Sloper in 1868. Three years after her death in 1901, he married Anna Haugen, who died in 1949. From these two marriages, Woolson had fourteen children. When he died in 1956, six daughters and two sons were still living.

In later years, Woolson gained fame as an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He served as Commander of the Minnesota Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) until it dissolved in 1947. In 1950, he became the Senior Vice Commander in Chief of the National Grand Army of the Republic, and its sole remaining member in 1953.

As Woolson passed his 100th year and veterans of the Civil War became scarce, his birthdays drew national attention, with articles about him in newspapers and cards arriving from all across the country, including letters from U.S. presidents. His celebrity status also put him in the spotlight during Memorial Day celebrations and Civil War commemorations.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The H.N. (Bert) Woolson collection on Albert Woolson documents Albert Woolson's rise to fame as the oldest living Civil War Union veteran. The collection dates from 1881 to 1964 (bulk 1942 to 1956) and consists of newspaper clippings from regional and national newspapers and seven sound recordings, most of which are interviews with Albert Woolson conducted late in his life. Photographs, correspondence, programs and ribbons from 1940s era Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) encampments, and a scrapbook are also present in the collection. The newspaper clippings provide insight on the meaning and memory of the Civil War during the Cold War era in the U.S.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

1:  Sound Recordings, 1948-1954Return to Top

The sound recording Series consists of six phonographic records and one reel-to reel tape (presumed to be a format conversion of some of the phonographic records). In these recordings, Albert Woolson speaks about his memories of the Civil War, his perspectives on U.S. foreign relations in the 1950s, his perspectives on Duluth, Minnesota and his secret to long life. Researchers should note that the archives currently lacks equipment to play two of the phonographic records and the reel to reel tape.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 13
Phonographic Record (Radio interview with six Union veterans)
1948
2 4
Phonographic Record (GAR Encampment)
1948
2 12
Phonographic Record (Comments on President Truman and US-Soviet Relations)
1950
2 11
Phonographic Record (Comments on Duluth, Minnesota)
1951
2 10
Phonographic Record (Albert Woolson on memories of Abraham Lincoln, longevity secrets, and comments at GAR Encampment)
1954
2 5
Phonographic Record
undated
2 9
Phonographic Record (Comments on Indianapolis Convention)
1949
2 6-8
Phonograph Records, Duplicates
1949-1954
1 31
Reel to Reel Tape
undated

2:  Clippings, 1942-1964Return to Top

0.2 linear feet

Newspaper clippings from papers throughout the United States documenting the public commemoration of Albert Woolson's 95th through 109th birthdays constitute the bulk of the collection. Other clippings cover the last gatherings of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and Albert Woolson's death in 1956.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Clippings
1942
1 2
Clippings
1943
1 3
Clippings
1944
1 4
Clippings
1946
1 5
Clippings
1947
1 6
Clippings
1948
1 7
Clippings
1949
1 8
Clippings
1950
1 9
Clippings
1951
1 10
Clippings
1952
1 11
Clippings
1953
1 12
Clippings
1954
1 13
Clippings
1955
1 14
Clippings
1956
1 15
Clippings
1959
1 16
Clippings
1963
1 17
Clippings
1964
1 18
Clippings
undated
2 2
Clippings, Oversize
1944-1956

3:  Correspondence, 1947-1959Return to Top

0.1 linear feet

The small correspondence series consists primarily of letters from Albert Woolson to his son, Robert Woolson, and letters to Woolson from various parties, including representatives of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 19
Correspondence from Albert Woolson
1949-1954
1 20
Correspondence to Albert Woolson
1949-1954
1 21
Correspondence to Robert Woolson
1947-1959

4:  Photographs, 1937-1951Return to Top

1.0 linear feet

The photographic series largely depicts Woolson in the later years of his life; a few photos depict Woolson as a young man, Woolson's family, and other elderly Civil War veterans.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 22
Photographs
1937-1951
1 23
Photographs
undated
2 3
Photographs, Oversize
undated

5:  Ephemera, 1944-1955Return to Top

0.1 linear feet

Series consists largely of programs and ribbons from the GAR and the Department of Minnesota Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 24
Ribbons
1944-1948
1 25
Journal of the 82nd Encampment, Grand Army of the Republic
1948
1 26
Program, Final Campfire, Grand Army of the Republic
1949
1 27
Programs, Department of Minnesota Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
1949-1955
1 28
Program, Albert Woolson Day
1955
1 29
Supplemental Roster, Minneapolis Memorial Day Association
1955

6:  Miscellaneous, 1881-1956Return to Top

1.0 linear feet

Includes a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings, photographs, and ribbons worn at Civil War related conventions, documentation of Woolson's professional certifications, and a brief memoir.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 1
Engineering Certificates
1881-1903
1 30
My Reminiscences
Undated
2
Scrapbook
1948-1956

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Personal Names :
  • Woolson, Albert
  • Corporate Names :
  • Grand Army of the Republic