Biography and History

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.

Source: From the finding aid for MC202

  • Woodrow Wilson Collection. 1837-1986 (inclusive), 1883-1924 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC168

    The Woodrow Wilson Collection consists of Wilson holdings which have been acquired by the Princeton University Library Department of Rare Books and Special Collections gradually over many years by purchase and gifts from many sources. The collection is rich in material prior to Wilson's presidential years, although it is not limited to this period; researchers will find materials documenting both the public and private life of Woodrow Wilson. Various types of information written by or about Wilson are present in the collection, including manuscripts, addresses, articles, correspondence, telegrams, legal documents, booklets, pamphlets, photographs, portraits, cartoons, newspapers and scrapbooks.

  • Gilbert F. Close Papers. 1906-1952 (inclusive), 1918-1919 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC202

    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. The papers document Close's work with Wilson, including the trip Close took to Europe with Wilson for the Paris Peace Conference at the conclusion of World War I.

  • Gilbert F. Close Papers. 1906-1952 (inclusive), 1918-1919 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC202

    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. The papers document Close's work with Wilson, including the trip Close took to Europe with Wilson for the Paris Peace Conference at the conclusion of World War I.