The Lawrence T. Wyly Papers fill eighteen boxes and are arranged in ten subseries: biographical materials, correspondence, army-related materials, teaching files, administrative files, research and consulting files, professional societies files, papers presented at professional meetings, publications, and miscellaneous materials.
A small amount of biographical materials include several vitae, clippings, programs, news releases, certificates, and some records of expenses. They also include two diaries (1938, 1940) kept by Mrs. J.H. Shoemaker, Wyly's mother-in-law, and deal mainly with her own life and those of her family and friends.
Correspondence, filling more than three boxes is broken down into general, family, and subject categories. The general correspondence pertains to a wide variety of topics centering on social issues, engineering, and education. Family correspondence includes round-robin letters from Wyly's father-in-law as well as letters from other relatives to Wyly and additional family members. Much of this correspondence concerns routine family matters although social issues also are discussed. Subject correspondence, foldered and arranged alphabetically by topical headings, relates primarily to issues that aroused Wyly's strong sense of justice and fairness, such as the war in Viet Nam, the use of television for public debates and education, and the dangers of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Correspondence between Wyly and his colleagues and former students is foldered and arranged alphabetically according to individuals' surnames.
One folder of Army materials includes Wyly's accounts of and records pertaining to his service in World War I. Photocopies of pertinent pages from a history of the aerosquadron in which he served are also included.
The teaching files (4 1/2 boxes) consist primarily of rough notes, lecture and class materials, student assignments, exams, and grade and attendance records.
Wyly served on a few university and organizational committees. The three administrative files that document this service illuminate some of his individual contributions.
Wyly's research and consulting files (8 boxes) form the largest component of the collection. Two major projects directed by Wyly, the model bridge project and the riveted and bolted joints project, are represented by substantial amounts of records, reports, correspondence, and notes. As noted earlier, Wyly's second term at Northwestern was marked by controversy. Wyly's point of view is amply documented by his white paper (Box 4, Folders 2-3), correspondence and other related materials. The balance of the materials in the research and consulting files relate to several of Wyly's consulting assignments and other engineering matters.
A small amount of correspondence and related materials pertaining to professional societies document Wyly's occasional work in connection with these organizations.
Wyly infrequently gave papers at professional meetings. Accordingly, his activities in connection with these meetings are documented by only a few drafts of papers and some correspondence.
Wyly's publications are represented by only a few isolated reprints. Where possible, reprints have been filed with the notes for and drafts of corresponding articles. A folder containing Wyly's memoir on George Maney, one of his senior colleagues, also includes several letters from Mrs. Maney. Preliminary materials relating to a proposed history of the methods of science, with special emphasis on the controlled experiment, also are filed here.
The miscellaneous files pertain to various issues that sparked Wyly's social conscience. Most of the materials found here are in the form of notes and drafts of letters.