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Special Collections: Guide to the Wayland D. Towner Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves
October 2010

Collection title: Wayland D. Towner Papers
Provenance: Gift of Wayland Towner in 1972
Collection number: MS 505
Dates of collection: 1910-1971
Size of collection: 2 boxes
Restrictions on access and use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility; one week's notice required for retrieval.


Wayland Dean Towner, the son of Edward E. and Caroline B. Brown Towner, was born in Montpelier, Vermont, January 9, 1892. He graduated from the University of Maine in 1914 with a degree in forestry. During World War I he served as a forest engineer with the New England Sawmill Units in Scotland and with the 20th U.S. Engineers in France. After his return from the war he became the first fulltime secretary of the university’s alumni office where among other duties he raised funds for the gymnasium planned to honor students who had served in the war.

Towner left the Alumni Association in 1923 and embarked on a career in public relations and fundraising that would take him to many states and many positions until his retirement in 1961. He was the finance director for the American Red Cross in Boston; a member of the Fiscal Services Corporation, also in Boston; the associate director of the American Social Hygiene Association in New York and New Jersey; and spent many years working for the Community Chests in San Antonio and other Texas locations. After World War II he was director of American Activities at United China Relief in New York City before becoming vice president at Trinity University in San Antonio. His later years were spent working in direct sales in Austin, New Orleans and San Antonio before being hired in 1959 to manage a fundraising campaign for the Salvation Army in Hollywood, California.

Towner married Betty Mills in 1921 and they had three sons. After their divorce in 1947, he married Dorothy Graeter. Towner retired in 1961 and he and his wife settled in San Antonio. He continued to pursue his hobbies including collecting and exhibiting stamps, traveling, and maintaining contact with class members from the University of Maine and from his time in the service in World War I. He also compiled the volumes contained in this collection, noting in a foreword that he spent two years on the project and that “I do not entertain any thoughts of grandeur about my life, but I do believe its activities reflect the trends, the problems of living and working, the radical changes in an advancing culture and economy, the achievements and failures which characterize the most fascinating age America has experienced.”

Wayland D. Towner died August 20, 1977.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains 19 volumes of information documenting the life history of Wayland Towner. Compiled by Towner after his retirement using techniques of stamp exhibit compilation, one of his hobbies, the volumes include letters, photographs, publications and other documents with Towner’s candid narrative of the events represented.

Beginning in 1910, his first year at the University of Maine, the volumes span his service during World War I, his time as secretary of the alumni association at the university and his long career in fund raising and public relations, culminating with his retirement years in San Antonio. Included is family information, photographs and information about classmates and activities at the University of Maine, postcards and memorabilia from trips Towner took both for business and pleasure as well as extensive documentation of his many fundraising and community relations campaigns. Of particular interest are letters that Towner wrote to his parents while he was serving in World War I as well as information about the many reunions of the Class of 1914 at the University of Maine and of the New England Sawmill Units he attended through the years.

Box List

Box 1


1 Life history vol. 1 & 2: First two college years, 1910-1912

2-3 Life history vol. 3: Final college two years, 1912-1914

4-6 Life history vol. 4: Business start overseas, 1914-1919

7 World War I letters, 1918-1919: Wayland Towner to his parents

8-9 Life history vol. 5: Alumni secretary, University of Maine, 1919-1922

10-12 Life history vol. 6: Red Cross, 1922-1932

13-14 Life history vol. 7: Welfare Federation, 1932-1939

15 Life history vol. 8: Asheville survey; San Antonio, 1940-1943

16 Life history vol. 9-11: United War Chest, 1943-1945

17-18 Life history vol. 12: United Service to China, 1945-1947

Box 2

1 Life history vol. 13: San Antonio, 1947-1950

2-3 Life history vol. 14: Trinity University, 1950-1954

4 Life history vol. 15: Waddell-Reed. 1954-1958

5-6 Life history vol. 16: California, 1959-1961

7-8 Life history vol. 17: Retirement, 1961-1964

9 Life history vol. 18: Retirement, San Antonio, 1965-1967

10 Life history vol. 19: San Antonio, 1968-1971


Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/31/2015
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