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Charles E. Wilson Collection

Wilson Headshot

Wilson Headshot

Charles E. Wilson was the president of General Motors (GM) from 1941 to 1953. His main role was to oversee the company's increase of defense production during the World War II era. General Motors converted dozens of factories into defense construction plants. Among other things, GM produced the GM DUKW Landing Craft, which was later hailed by General Eisenhower as one of the most valuable pieces of equipment produced by the United States during the war. Because of his fantastic work overseeing defense production, Wilson was selected as Secretary of Defense for President Dwight Eisenhower in 1951. He served in the role until 1957. After retiring from the Department of Defense, he moved to Detroit, Michigan until his death in 1961. 

He spent the majority of his GM career in Anderson, Indiana; as a result, he developed a relationship with Anderson College. Along with businessman Linfield Myers, Wilson was very influential in growing the relationship of Anderson College with the city of Anderson. Because of their influence to the college, President Reardon dreamed of two buildings that faced each other on campus—one named in honor of Charles E. Wilson and the other for Linfield Myers. In 1957, the first half of Reardon’s dream was fulfilled: the new campus library was dedicated in honor of Charles Wilson. Thirteen years later, Myers Hall overlooking the west side of the Wilson Library, was constructed in honor of Linfield Myers. 

After his death, Charles Wilson donated his personal papers to Anderson College. History and Political Science Professor Larry Osnes organized the papers to be stored on campus. In 1970, the papers arrived, and were open for public research shortly after. Osnes suggested that the Wilson archive could be the beginning of an institutional archive to house important documents from Anderson College’s past. Ever since, the very small archives, consisting of the Warner papers and the Wilson collection, has expanded to cover the Church of God, Anderson University, and multiple special collections.

Timeline of Wilson’s Life

  • Born - July 18, 1880
  • Factory Manager Delco Remy Co. - 1919-1926
  • President of Delco Remy Factory - 1926-1929
  • Vice President of General Motors Corporation - 1929-1939
  • Executive Vice President 1939-1940
  • President of General Motors - 1941-1953
  • Secretary of Defense 1953-1957
  • Death - September 26, 1961

To access the finding aid of Wilson's papers click here

References

"Biographical Information from Reference Sources” Folder, "C.E. Wilson Papers" Box 1, Anderson University and Church of God Archives. Accessed March 3, 2021

“General Motors Defense History” GM Defense. Accessed March 3, 2021 https://www.gmdefensellc.com/site/us/en/gm-defense/home/about/history.html

Kendall, Charles T. “Archival Services… A History and Projection” Anderson University and Church of God Archives, January 31, 1977

"Letters to the Wilson Family" Folder, "Robert Reardon Papers" AC 176, Anderson University and Church of God Archives. Accessed February 3, 2021

Church of God Archives. Accessed March 3, 2021"Wilson Library Dedication” Folder, " AC Small Collections" Drawer K, Anderson University and 

Worthen, James. George Humphrey, Charles Wilson and Eisenhower's War on Spending. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2019.

Charles E. Wilson Collection