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William H. Wills Papers

Identifier: mss-017

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists primarily of notes for and texts of speeches made by Wills during his two terms as governor of Vermont. Many of the speeches are on World War Two, but there are also a number relating to Vermont's domestic issues in the early 1940's. In addition, the collection contains some Wills family photos, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about Wills' support for Wendell Wilkie in the Presidential campaign of 1944, a few letters and miscellaneous papers, and a looseleaf notebook of materials of the Vermont state war committees of 1942-44.


  • 1941-1946



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Born in Chicago on October 26, 1882, William Henry Wills came to Vermont as a small boy when his mother returned to her hometown of Vergennes following the death of her husband. Educated in the Vergennes public schools, Wills moved to Bennington to begin working as a general store clerk. He soon switched to insurance salesman, and rose to become head of his own insurance and real estate agency in Bennington. Wills held a number of political positions in the 1920's and '30's, including seats in both the Vermont House and Senate, as well as Lieutenant Governor from 1937 to 1941. A Republican, Wills received his party's nomination for governor in 1940, and easily defeated Democratic candidate John McGrath, 87,346 votes to 49,068. Reelected in 1942, Wills served Vermont as governor throughout World War Two, and played a major role in organizing the state's contributions to the national war effort. William Henry Wills died in Brockton, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1946, at the age of sixty-three.


1.2 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



William H. Wills was the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont between 1937 and 1941, then Governor between 1941-1945. Collection includes primarily notes for text of Wills' speeches while Governor, together with a few letters, scrapbook of newspaper clippings about Wills' support for Wendell Wilkie in the 1944 Presidential campaign, notebook of materials of Vermont state war committees (1942-44), family photos, and other papers. Speeches relate to World War II as well as Vermont's domestic issues in early 1940's.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Materials

William H. Wills Papers in the Vermont State Archives.


  • Hazel McLeod Wills, Bill Wills and Company (Bennington, 1953).
Guide to the William H. Wills Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)