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Samuel M. Wilson papers, 1792-1945, 1916-1941 (bulk dates)

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Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig


Samuel M. Wilson papers, 1792-1945


1916-1941 (bulk dates)


University of Kentucky Special CollectionsLexington, Kentucky 40506


Arranged by accession number.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], Samuel M. Wilson papers, 1792-1945, 1916-1941 (bulk dates), 1M50W37, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.


6.8 cubic feet


Lawyer, historian. Samuel M. Wilson was born in Louisville, Ky., a son of Samuel Ramsay Wilson and grandson of Joshua Lacy Wilson, two prominent members of the Presbyterian clergy. Wilson attended Centre College in Danville, Ky. (1888-1891), Williams College in Massachusetts (1892-1893) and the law school at Centre College (1894-1895). After being admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1895, Wilson practiced law in Lexington and taught for a time at Transylvania University. During World War I, Wilson served as an assistant judge advocate and then Division Judge Advocate for the 77th Division, which was stationed in France during most of the war. He was discharged in 1919, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Returning to Lexington after the war, Wilson and Clinton M. Harbison opened a law office under the name Wilson and Harbison.

During these years, Wilson served various Kentucky circuit courts as a special judge and was once appointed a special master by the U.S. Supreme Court. He was also an attorney for several large corporations, including the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and Kentenia Corporation. In addition to his business duties, and various civic and charitable affairs in which he was involved, Wilson wrote extensively on Kentucky history in numerous pamphlets, articles and books including BATTLE OF BLUE LICKS, and HISTORY OF KENTUCKY.

Scope and Content

The material consists of correspondence, a diary, a scrapbook, clippings, financial records, legal documents, military records, speeches, broadsides and photographs generated by Samuel M. Wilson, a Lexington, Ky. attorney and amateur historian. The bulk of the material is from Wilson's years as Judge S. M. Wilson, Judge Advocate of the 77th Division of the Army Reserve Corps and includes personal and official correspondence and official documents of the Judge Advocate's department, including general orders and court martial decisions, maps, programs, postcards, pictures and insignia. Subject folders (50W20) include a history of the 77th Division, and the story of the "Lost Battalion" from the Military Training Camp in Plattsburg, New York.

Other materials include: Wilson's speeches (1907-1945), which concern law and Kentucky history; a diary, photographs and correspondence kept by Wilson when he and Mrs. Wilson traveled over the old Wilderness Road in 1902; a scrapbook (1887-1899) which contains clippings of poems and articles about the arts; an accounts ledger (1899-1902) in which Wilson kept a record of his clients payments; a typescript of extracts from the 1792 Kentucky Gazette concerning the inauguration of Isaac Shelby and the meeting of the first General Assembly; and a typescript of an article (1938) concerning the Lexington Public Library, prepared by Wilson.


  • Wilson, Samuel M. (Samuel Mackay), 1871-1946.
  • Wilson, Mary Bullock Shelby, 1876-1959.
  • Shelby, Isaac, 1750-1826.
  • Wilderness Road (Ky.)--Description and travel.
  • Lexington (Ky.).--Public Library.
  • Kentucky.--General Assembly.
  • Wilson and Harbison (Lexington, Ky.).
  • United States.--Army.--Division, 77th.
  • Plattsburgh (N.Y.).--Military Training Camp.
  • Kentucky gazette (Lexington, Ky.)
  • Judge advocates--Kentucky--Lexington.
  • Law--Kentucky.
  • Travel--Kentucky.
  • World War, 1914-1918--France.
  • Historians.
  • Lawyers.
  • Plattsburgh (N.Y.)
  • Kentucky--History.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Speeches