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Wood Gray papers

Identifier: MS0246-UA

Collection Scope and Content

Materials in this collection include photos (including World War II, family, William Collier, Cloyd Heck Marvin, Charles Swisher), journals of notes taken while a student at University of Illinois, correspondence, annual reports, committee reports, reading lists, syllabi, grades, exams, and a framed George Washington coat of arms transparency. They range in date from 1918-73, and their provenance is unclear. Two accessions were added to the University Archives in 1987 and 1995.


  • Creation: 1918-1973


Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical Note

Wood Gray (1905-1977) was Professor of History at The George Washington University from 1934-72. He was born March 19, 1905 in Petersburg, Illinois. He graduated from Petersburg Harris High school as valedictorian. He was also the captain of the track team. He attended the University of Illinois and earned his B.A. in 1927 and M.A. in 1928. While there he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Phi Delta Kappa, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Eta Sigma. A sports enthusiast, he was a student manager for the college football team, and years later liked to tell the story of taping the ankles of Hall of Fame player Red Grange before the Michigan game in which Grange scored five touchdowns. Gray received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1933, and began his career at GW the following year. He was chairman of the department from 1937-53 and 1964-65. During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps, Special Staff, as a Lt. Colonel from 1943-46.

While at GW he was a founding member of the chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He led the drive for one of the nation's most liberal faculty codes, concerning tenure and faculty rights, as a member of the Faculty Senate. He served as secretary to the American Association of University Professors for two terms and was the United States history section editor for the American Historical Review for more than twenty years. Dr. Gray helped integrate the Cosmos Club in Washington as a member of the admissions committee, bringing in as a member fellow historian John Hope Franklin.

Dr. Gray specialized in American social history and the Civil War. He served as a consultant for the United States Information Agency in the preparation of histories and motion pictures for overseas distribution and lectured at the Foreign Service Institute and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He wrote "Historian's Handbook: A Key to the Study and Writing of History," (1951) a guidebook for students of history that was used in more than five-hundred colleges and universities. He was also author of "The Hidden Civil War: The Story of the Copperheads" (1942) and co-author with Marcus W. Jernigan of "Essays in American Historiography" (1937). Dr. Gray was made Professor Emeritus in 1972.

He summed up his philosophy of history thus: "Man's unique ability to incorporate into personal experience that of all other men and women, not only of his own time but all previous generations, is a true second sight that sets him above other species and enables him better to understand the present in order to prepare himself to face the problems of the future." Dr. Gray married Dorothea Leal Gray August 13, 1927. She died in 1978. Dr. Gray died on June 27, 1977 in Washington, D.C.

N.B. This history note was written in 2005


6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Collection include materials related Wood Gray's time at GW as professor of History, and includes annual reports, correspondence, committee reports, reading lists, syllabi, grades, exams. They range in date from 1934-72.

Collection Organization

Organized in two series, Papers and Photographs, journals.

Guide to the Wood Gray papers, 1918-1973
University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America