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Earl J. Wilson Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS70

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

This collection of papers from Earl J. Wilson consists of his files, maintained during his years with the U.S. Information Service, dealing with the development of democracy in U.S. foreign policy. Material includes the manuscript of an unpublished book by Mr. Wilson on the subject, entitled,'Fumbling with Democracy: Our Failure to Promote It Abroad.' There is also a quantity of information in the form of published and unpublished reports and correspondence concerning USIA's Citizenship Education Program. CEP was originally the idea of William Russell, deputy director for education, International Cooperation Agency, and dean of Columbia University Teachers College. His aim was to improve the education of youth in the concepts of American democracy. In 1956 , laboratory practices were set up and ICA staff successfully promoted CEP theories and practices to U.S. schools. A pilot project was also established in Guatemala. However, ICA was not interested in an international approach, and after Russell's death, Mr. Wilson adopted the project to promote to USIA. The program did not receive enthusiastic support from USIA; however, under Hank Arnold, the new public affairs officer for USIA in Korea (1956), the program was implemented as part of the new country plan. In 1957, while at his fifth post in Mexico City , Mr. Wilson also found support for CEP. It was written into the country plan. In addition, the post had a magazine entitled 'Saber' ('To Know') edited by Luz Zea, which specialized in articles on the American educational system. Together, Ms. Zea and Mr.Wilson collaborated on CEP's first pamphlet, 'Senderos de Libertad' ('Pathsof Liberty'). By the end of 1958, CEP and related projects had been phased out by USIA. Other material in this collection includes a file on the Democracy Program,a non-governmental effort to promote democracy abroad begun in 1982 under the auspices of Democratic and Republican parties, and the bipartisan American Political Foundation. Another file contains a copy of lectures given by USIA to officers of the Thai Armed Forces, as part of the National security Indoctrination Program (1954). Also included in the collection are newsclippings collected by Mr. Wilson on U.S. foreign policy.

Span dates: 1957 - 1990 Bulk dates: 1960 - 1970 Extent: 1 linear foot; 2 boxes


  • 1940 - 1996
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1980

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Earl Wilson was born on October 2, 1917, in Washington, D.C., the son of Joseph M. and Virginia Maude Wilson. He received his early education at Eastern High School, later attending Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service night courses (from 1937 to 1941). After a year he married Lorane Andrews daughter of Guinn Williams, a congressman from Texas. Mr. Wilson was twenty at the time. Following brief stints as stenographer for Hecht's Department Store and as an attendant at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Mr. Wilson was hired as a copy writer for the Washington Post in1941, where he remained until 1942. During this period he won a newspaper scholarship to George Washington University. In 1942, Mr. Wilson was posted with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, in the combat correspondents program, to four campaigns, Tarawa, Guam, Peliliu, and Leyte Gulf. He entered as a second lieutenant, and by the end of the war had been promoted to captain. For his work during this period,Mr. Wilson received a Presidential Unit citation. He wrote many articles, short stories and poetry about his experiences, and coauthored a book on the Tarawa campaign. After the war, Mr. Wilson went on to serve six months in China in the office of public information for Marine Aviation, before returning to the Washington Post. In March 1947, Mr. Wilson joined USIA. His first post was Shanghai where he served as public affairs assistant until 1949. Other posts during his long years with USIA included Manila(1950-1952), Paris (1952-1953), Bangkok (where he was chief information officer, 1954-1955), Mexico City(1957-1960), Hong Kong (1960-1964), Madrid (1965-1967), and Kuala Lumpur (1967-1969). From 1970 to 1971, Mr. Wilson was on the faculty at the National War College; in 1971, he was psychological operations advisor to the commander in chief of the Pacific; and from 1971 to 1973, he as USIA advisor to the same. Mr. Wilson retired in 1973,and currently resides in Potomac, Maryland. Mr. Wilson is the recipient of the USIA Meritorious Service Award (1959)and the Superior Service Award (1970) 'for exceptionally imaginative ideas and concepts over a sustained period which have significantly advanced U.S. Government objectives in the field of public affairs and psychological operations in many parts of the world.' Mr. Wilson is a current member of the board of the Public Diplomacy foundation. He also holds exhibitions of his own paintings, with international showings in cities such as Mexico city, Miami, Hong Kong, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, and Washington, D.C. Recently, Mr. Wilson participated in the Foreign Affairs Oral History program sponsored by Georgetown University. A transcript of his taped interview is available at the Special collections Division of the Lauinger Library. In addition, a memoir of his time in China cowritten (with illustrations) by Mr. Wilson and his wife Lorane, is also available. The Foreign Affairs Oral History Program also includes a taped interview and transcription of Bernard J. Lavin, an officer with USIA and colleague of Mr. Wilson.


1.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Provenance: Gift of Earl J. Wilson, August 1990 Processed October 8, 1990.

Earl J. Wilson Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057