Biography and History

H. Hubert Wilson was a professor in Princeton University's Department of Politics from 1943-1977. He was known as an ardent supporter of civil liberties, and many of his undergraduate courses invoked that topic.

Source: From the finding aid for AC167

Biography and History

Harper Hubert Wilson was born on June 18, 1909 in Springfield, Massachussetts. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Springfield College in 1933. After graduation, he taught at the Wilbraham Academy until 1938. He continued his education and received a Master's Degree in Economics in 1939 from Clark University. Wilson then went on to teach for one year at the Staten Island Academy before moving on to the Putney School. He taught at Putney for two years before serving as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, he enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin where he received his Ph.D. in political science in 1947.

Wilson joined the Princeton faculty in 1947 as a specialist on American institutions and the British government. His Politics 203 (Political Power in the U.S.) and 306 (Politics of Civil Liberties) courses became favorites of undergraduates. Wilson developed the Politics 203 course to shock and stimulate students to be aware of the problems of power and dissent in American political life. This groundbreaking approach of studying political phenomena through an analysis of the class, group and power structures of a given society was quickly copied by other institutions. Wilson also taught two graduate courses, Politics 508 (American Legislatures) and 524 (Political Power in American Society).

An ardent supporter of civil liberties, Wilson was highly critical of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the United States Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) director J. Edgar Hoover. He organized a conference of legal authorities and educators to criticize Hoover's leadership of the F.B.I., and he helped to form the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee when the American Civil Liberties Union refused to defend self-professed Communists. He was also a member of the National Advisory Committee of Consumers Union, and served on the Advisory Committee of the L.M. Rabinowitz Foundation. In 1966, he participated in the Yale Socialist Symposium and in 1967 took part in the Philadelphia Peace Convention.

Wilson retired in May 1977 and was named Professor Emeritus in July of 1977. In August 1977, Wilson was found dead in a small swimming pool at his home. Wilson escaped to the pool in an attempt to avoid a swarm of bees (to which he was allergic) that he stirred up while mowing his lawn. The official cause of death was drowning associated with anaphylactic reaction due to bee stings.

Source: From the finding aid for MC143