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Collection of Thornton Wilder Materials

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: DC045

Scope and Contents

The Thornton Wilder collection consists of material created by Wilder during his time at Lawrenceville and material about Wilder that was created posthumously. Notable documents include correspondence with Head Master Abbott, various school administrators, and the Wilder family, an article Wilder wrote about The Lawrenceville School, and pages from an Our Town manuscript that he donated to the school.


  • 1921 - 2012

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies and digital photographs may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Archivist. Researchers are responsible for determining any other copyright questions.

Biographical / Historical

Thornton Wilder was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1897 to Amos Parker Wilder and Isabella Niven Wilder. Amos Parker Wilder's work as a United States diplomat resulted in the Wilder family moving to China during Thornton's childhood. The Wilder family eventually relocated to California in 1912. After graduating from high school, Wilder attended Purdue University Law School. He withdrew after two years to enlist in the Coast Guard where he served during Word War I. Wilder returned home upon the completion of his military service and returned to college. He graduated with a B.A. from Yale University in 1920. He continued his studies at Princeton University, completing a M.A. in French in 1926.

Wilder arrived at Lawrenceville in 1921. He served The Lawrenceville School as assistant house master of Davis House, French instructor, and advisor to The Lit. During his Lawrenceville tenure, he published The Trumpet Shall Sound, The Cabala, and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1928. Wilder resigned from Lawrenceville in 1928.

After leaving Lawrenceville, Wilder taught at the University of Chicago and published Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942). Wilder enlisted in the army at the outset of World War II, and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Force. After his discharge from the army, Wilder continued to write and teach. He died on December 7, 1975.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The Thornton Wilder collection is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection includes various gifts from Thornton Wilder and his family. Portions of Lawrenceville material was transferred to the Archives from the Office of the Head Master.


Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives guidelines.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digitized images are in Preservica. Selected items are available to view.

Related Materials

The Stephan Archives' Lawrenceville Authors Collection contains copies of many of Thornton Wilder's published material.

Related Materials

Photographs of Thornton Wilder are in PC044, Office of the Dean of Faculty Photograph Collection,


Information in the biographical note was gathered from material within the collection.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Casey Babcock in January of 2012. The collection was reprocessed by Peter K. Steinberg in June, 2022.

Collection of Thornton Wilder Material: Finding Aid
Casey Babcock
March 22, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives Repository

Box 6128
2500 Main St.
Lawrenceville 08648 U.S.A. US