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Cornelius W. Wickersham Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: circa 1969

Biographical History

Brigadier General Cornelius Wendell Wickersham (1884-1968) was an American lawyer and military officer; he practiced law for more than forty years, and his military career stretched from the Mexicon Border skirmish of 1916 to World War II and after.

Wickersham graduated from Harvard University in 1906 and received his law degree, also from Harvard, in 1909. In 1914 he joined the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, founded in 1792 and today the oldest continuously-operating law firm in New York City (his father George Woodward Wickersham, an anti-trust attorney, had also been with the firm). Apart from absences for military duty, Wickersham continued to practice law for more than sixty years, eventually rising to the position of senior partner. His work included trusts, estates, and corporate reorganization and recapitalization. He was president of the Joint Conference on Legal Education in New York (1932-1940 and 1954-1958) and counsel for the Grand Jury Association of New York County. He also served on the Board of Regents for the state of New York (1953-1955).

Wickersham's military career began in 1915 when he enlisted in the New York Cavalry. From 1916-1918 he served on the U.S.-Mexican border with the 12th New York Infantry. During World War I he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and during World War II to Brigadier General. Among his many appointments, he was the first commandant and director of the School of Military Government, established in 1942 at the University of Virginia; Chief of the European Allied Contact Section, serving at Eisenhower's headquarters; and head of U.S. Group Control Council, Germany (USGCC). He served with distinction, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal (twice), the Legion of Merit, the Legion of Honor, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and the Medal of Verdun, among other honors.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Cornelius W. Wickersham Papers consist of legal, military, public service, education, and personal papers.

Legal material consists of books, briefs, articles, material about specific cases, and other documents relating to Wickersham's lengthy legal career.

Military material subject files span more than three decades, ranging from the Mexican Border incident of 1916 and World War I to World War II and the Army School of Military Government.

The majority of Public service material relates to Wickersham's involvement with the Nassau County Bridge Authority; other topics include civil defense and the American Legion, of which Wickersham was a founding member.

Wickersham's Service to education primarily involves Nassau Community College and his term on the New York Board of Regents. Included here are minutes, a yearbook, policy and procedures manuals, annual reports, budgets, among other things.

Personal papers contains awards, certificates, degrees, honors, medals, photographs, and other types of memorabilia. Of note here are letters from General John J. Pershing and correspondence with Harry Truman and Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower.

Arrangement of the Collection

Material within each series is in no particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Wickersham, Cornelius W. (Cornelius Wendell), 1884-

Corporate Bodies

Interstate Commerce Commission.
Nassau Community College.
Nassau County Bridge Authority.
University of the State of New York. -- Board of Regents.


Actions and defenses -- Cases.
Lawyers -- United States.
Military history, Modern -- 20th century.
Railroad law -- United States.
Railroads -- Finance -- Law and legislation.
Stamp collecting.
Transportation -- Law and legislation -- United States.
United States -- Armed Forces -- Officers.

Genres and Forms

Briefs (legal documents)
Decorations (honor)
School yearbooks.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Cornelius W. Wickersham Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Legal material

Military material

Public service