Skip to main content

Personal papers of Robert W. Wilson

Call Number: PP 596


This collection includes correspondence, research, and criticism done by paleontologist and geologist Robert W. Wilson while at the University of Kansas' Museum of Natural History and the South Dakota School of Mines and Geology's Geology Museum, among other work places. The collection also includes some compiled scrapbooks celebrating Wilson's career and some photographs of colleagues.


  • Creation: 1929 - 2003


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Robert W. Wilson (1909-2006)

Robert Warren Wilson was born July 26, 1909 in Oakland, California, the son of Robert Gordon and Lillie May (Silcott) Wilson. He attended the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), originally intending to study chemistry but focusing his attentions instead on geology. He received his bachelors in science in 1930, M.S. in geology and paleontology in 1932, and completed his doctorate in 1936 with a major in vertebrate paleontology and minor in petrology.

Wilson was a Sterling Research Fellow at Yale University from 1936-1937 before returning to Cal Tech as a research fellow. In 1939 he joined the University of Colorado's Department of Geology as instructor and later assistant professor. In 1947 Wilson joined the faculty at the University of Kansas, holding a joint appointment as Associate Professor of Zoology and Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Natural History Museum on campus. In 1961 Wilson joined the faculty of the South Dakota School of Mines and Geology, serving as director of the Museum of Geology as well as holding the rank of professor. Retiring from South Dakota in 1975, Wilson came back to KU in 1977, becoming professor emeritus in 1980 and serving as a research associate with the Natural History Museum.

Wilson's research focused on Eocene and later rodents and lagomorphs. He conducted field studies and collected fossils in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Utah. He was a charter member of and served as President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 1954-1955 and was awarded its highest honor, the Romer-Simpson Medal, in 1999. He was also a fellow of the National Geographic Society and served as both a Guggenheim (1956-1957) and Fulbright (1967-1968) scholar.

Robert W. Wilson married Geraldine Lee on March 20, 1941. They had two children, Robert and Margaret. Wilson died in 2006.


5 linear foot (6 boxes + 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 596

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transfer, Natural History Museum, 2016; gift, Margaret Wilson, 2020.

Related Materials

Personal papers of Morton Green, PP 591, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Univesity of Kansas.

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Guide to the Robert Warren Wilson Collection
Personal papers of Robert W. Wilson
Finding aid prepared by mmm, 2018. Finding aid encoded by mmm, 2018. Finding aid revised by lmw, 2021; mwh, 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Robert W. Wilson, PP 596, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States