Gilbert F. Close Papers
Held at: Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
During World War I, Gilbert Fairchild Close held several positions in the government of President Woodrow Wilson, culminating with that of Stenographer and Private Secretary to the President.
Close was born January 7, 1881 in Pittsford, NY, the son of John Edward and Mary Ellen Hooper Close. He entered Princeton University in 1899 and graduated with the Class of 1903. Subsequently he earned his Masters from Princeton in 1909.
From 1903 to 1906, Close worked for the newly organized Princeton Alumni Weekly. Following five months with the First National Bank of Scranton, Close returned to Princeton to work as Secretary to the President of the University, Woodrow Wilson, with whom he had taken classes as an undergraduate. After three and a half years as Secretary, Close took the position of Editor of Official Publications and Assistant to the Secretary of Princeton University. In May 1917, he left that post to serve as Confidential Clerk and Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy. Close served Wilson as Stenographer and Private Secretary to the President between August 1918 and February 1920. During this time, Close was often by the President's side, whether vacationing with him, or more significantly, accompanying him to the Paris Peace Conference. One of Close's duties at the conference was to type the first draft of the Treaty of Versailles. Following the Peace Conference, Close joined the President on his tour of the United States to promote the treaty.
For the remainder of his career, Close worked for the Commonwealth Steel Company, and its successor, General Steel Broad Castings. His titles with the company included Assistant to the President, Editor of The Commonwealther, Director of Personnel, and Director of Public Relations.
Close married Helen Smith Farrer in 1908. The couple had three children, Gilbert Fairchild, Jr., Charles Donald, and Helen Elizabeth. Following his wife's death in 1937, Close married Mrs. Marva D. House. He died in 1952.
The papers consist of personal and professional correspondence from Close's tenure in the government, as well as items gathered while traveling with President Wilson to Europe in 1918-1919 for the Paris Peace Conference. Many photographs from the trip are part of the collection, including multiple photos of President Woodrow Wilson, Britain's David Lloyd George, France's Georges Clemenceau, and Italy's Vittorio Orlando.
Please see the series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about individual series.
Associated Press. (1952, October 27). Gilbert Close, Aide to President Wilson. New York TImes,p. 27. Princeton University Class of 1903. (1923). Twenty-year Record of the Class of 1903. Princeton: Princeton University. Princeton University Class of 1903. (1953). Fifty Years Later: The Half Century Record of the Class of 1903 of Princeton University. Princeton: Princeton University.
Digital images of some photographic prints in this collection are available via Flickr.
This collection was donated by Close's daughter, Helen Close McCann, in June 2003.
This collection was processed by Jennifer Sharp in June 2006. One box of material had been re-housed in an archival box at the time of accessioning in 2003. Finding aid written by Jennifer Sharp in June 2006.
Unused stationary, a 1945 radio address, and newspaper clippings were separated from this collection.
- Albert I, King of the Belgians, 1875-1934
- Clémenceau, Georges, 1841-1929
- Close, Gilbert F.
- Orlando, Vittorio Emanuele, 1860-1952
- Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924.
- Public Policy Papers
- Finding Aid Author
- Jennifer Sharp
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to Princeton University and researchers are free to move forward with use of materials without anything further from Mudd Library. For materials not created by the donor, where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. In these instances, researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.
The Correspondence series contains letters sent and received by Close during his work with President Wilson. The letters to his wife, Helen Close, document his journey to Europe aboard the USS George Washington for the Paris Peace Conference, the people encountered in Europe, the places visited, and the treaty's progress.
Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.Physical Description
The Woodrow Wilson series contains a mix of correspondence, memorabilia, and photographs from Close's travel with the President both to Europe and within the United States. Much of the correspondence is from friends, many in Princeton, requesting favors from Close.Included among the memorabilia are a passenger list for the U.S.S. George Washington, luggage tags and other ephemera. The collection contains a detailed itinerary, complete with pullout map, from Wilson's ill-fated national tour in 1919. During this grueling trip, intended to win public support for the Treaty of Versailles, Wilson suffered a breakdown, the prelude to a debilitating stroke that would cloud the last year of his presidency.
Arranged alphabetically by topic.Physical Description
The Miscellaneous series contains a memoir written by Close's daughter, as well as his passport, and a collection of postcards from his travels.
Arranged alphabetically by topic or document type.Physical Description
The Paris Peace Conference Photographs series include photographs from President Wilson's travels to England, France, and Belgium in 1918 and 1919. The bulk of the collection was taken by the official United States Government photographer. The origin of the remainder is uncertain. Included are photographs of the German and Austrian delegations to the Peace Talks, Wilson and his staff, King Albert of Belgium, England's David Lloyd George, France's Georges Clemenceau, and Italy's Vittorio Orlando.
Arranged chronologically.Physical Description
The Oversize Materials series contains a French newspaper and two photographs.
Arranged by size.Physical Description