Biography and History

Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre was the daughter of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and was a political activist. She was born in Gainesville, Georgia on August 28, 1887, the second daughter of Woodrow and Ellen Axson Wilson. She was educated privately in Princeton and at Goucher College in Baltimore; after her graduation from Goucher, she worked at a settlement home in Philadelphia for three years. She was also involved with the YWCA, serving on its national board. She married Francis Bowes Sayre (a Harvard professor, Ambassador to Siam, Assistant Secretary of State for Franklin Rooselvelt and U. S. High Commissioner for the Philippines) on November 25, 1913 at the White House and had three children with him, Francis Bowes Sayre, Jr., Eleanor Axson Sayre, and Woodrow Wilson Sayre. After World War I, the Sayres moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where Sayre worked in the interests of the Democratic Party, the League of Nations, and the League of Women Voters. In 1928 Sayre made the introductory speech for presidential nominee Alfred Smith at the Democratic National Convention and in 1929 her name was mentioned as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for United States Senator; she declined. After that time, she continued to participate actively as a party official in Massachusetts. Sayre died after an emergency appendectomy operation on January 15, 1933, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Source: From the finding aid for MC216

  • Jessie Wilson Sayre Collection. 1886-1933 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC216

    Jessie Wilson Sayre was the daughter of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and was a political activist. The Jessie Wilson Sayre Collection documents the close relationships amongst the Wilson and Axson families in the early twentieth century and provides details into their lives.