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David Gordon Wilson personal archives

Identifier: MC-0491

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The David Gordon Wilson personal archives documents Wilson's career. It consists of seven series: Correspondence, Course Materials, MIT Records, Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Education and Leadership (ECSEL), Research and Subject Files, Anti-Smoking, and Civic Engagement and Advocacy.

Series one includes correspondence with publishers, colleagues, and students.

Series two includes lecture notes, exams and other course materials.relating to courses....

Series three includes MIT records such as committee records, personel records (relating to tenure, retirement), and work with MIT programs and offices such as the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Internship Program and the Office of Minority Education of which Wilson was appointed as Interim Director and served from fall of 1994 to February 1, 1995.

Series four documents David Gordon Wilson's involvement with the Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Education and Leadership (ECSEL). ECSEL is a coalition of seven schools and colleges of engineering engaged in an effort to renew undergraduate engineering education through the integration of design into the curriculum to make the engineering profession more attractive to a broader spectrum of youth, including women and minorities. Wilson was MIT's principal investigator for ECSEL during the 1990s, and the collection includes proposals, budgets, evaluations, reports, plans, and assessments of the ECSEL program.

Series five includes research and subject files pertaining to publications, grant-funded projects, patents, and conferences. Some of the subjects included are accidents, bicycle safety, highway and land-use economics, human-powered vehicles, People to people mechanical engineering transportation program in China, Massachusetts Department of Transportation reports and Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Special Commission reports, recumbent vehicles, Sea Grant proposals, Technical planning program Egypt reports, and turbines.

Series six, Anti-Smoking, documents Wilson's involvement in anti-smoking groups both on the MIT campus and in the greater Boston area. In 1972 he founded the New England branch of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). This group was later called MASH (Massachusetts Action on Smoking and Health) and then Mass GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution). At MIT, Wilson passed out anti-smoking literature on campus and collected letters from students and staff on the negative affects of smoking. He was involved in many Cambridge area campaigns for increased rights for non-smokers in public places including restaurants, public transportation, and on airlines and in hospitals. He resigned from his work with Mass GASP in 1985.

Series seven includes civic engagment activities that Wilson participated in, mostly involving his interest in bicycling.


  • 1969 - 1994


Access note

This collection is not fully processed and portions of this collection must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days to let you know whether your requested material is open. For complete information on this policy, see our Statement on Accessing Institute Records.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


David Gordon Wilson, 1928-2019, BSc 1948, University of Birmingham, UK; PhD 1953, University of Nottingham, UK; Commonwealth Fund Fellow, MIT and Harvard University, 1955-1957, was a senior lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Nigerian College of Arts, 1958-1960, and vice president and technical director, Northern Research and Engineering Corporation, London, 1960-1966. In 1966 he was appointed associate professor in mechanical engineering at MIT; and in 1971 professor. He was currently professor emeritus in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Wilson taught engineering design and applied thermodynamics, and his research activities include heart-pump design, gas-turbine hybrid engines, and regenerator development. He has published numerous books, including Bicycling Science, 1974, 1982; The Design of Gas Turbine Engines, 1991; Human-Powered Vehicles, with Allan Abbott, 1995; and Gas-Turbine Regenerators, with D. S. Beck, 1996.


17 Cubic Feet (16 record cartons, 2 legal manuscript box)

Language of Materials



Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Preliminary Inventory to the Personal Archives of David Gordon Wilson
Allison Blanning, Greta Kuriger Suiter
updated February 2017; updated March 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2023 February 27: Revised by processing archivist Chris Tanguay in February 2023 to update access notes and enhance description.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US