Thursday, July 02, 2009

Margaret Woodrow Wilson 1886-1944. The 28th President's songbird daughter.

Margaret Woodrow Wilson studied voice and music at the Peabody Institute. She came into her own musically when her father became President. There was another president who also had a singing daughter named Margaret. That is another story. But Wilson made several recordings for the Columbia Graphophone Company. The one pictured here is a rather uncommon one. it was made in 1915 for the The Panama Pacific International Exposition. Wilson was very much into giving and that was the tenor of this recording. It was sold to raise money for the Red Cross and 25 cents from each sale of the record went to that organization. I have to admit hers was a nice voice, not a great one. Wilson entertained the troops in France during WWI and in fact it was during this time she over stressed her voice and it was gone.

The following story bears reading from the American Presidents blog. Which can be found at

Margaret’s tireless treks across the world for American service men were a constant worry to her father. She would travel twenty miles down artillery-blasted roads to sing for two or three wounded soldiers, often after much bigger performances. By the end of the war, her outdoor concerts had strained her voice beyond repair, and the sights and experiences of battlefield horror prompted a nervous breakdown. Recuperating some months after the war at Grove Oak Inn in North Carolina, General John J. Pershing and his staff asked her to sing. When she told them how she had lost her singing voice, General Pershing rose and lifted his glass. “To Miss Wilson,” he said, “just as much a victim of war service as were the soldiers who filled this country’s hospitals.”
In her later years she was very involved in Indian Mysticism moving to India and spending the rest of her life there. She died in 1944. She was living on a stipend set up by her father in his will. She was happy and never wanted. So far from the days of singing for soldiers and world leaders. I think that time in India gave her much more happiness than singing.