A Wilson family tradition

Melissa Varner
February 27, 2023
A Wilson Family Tradition

Impact Circle donor David Trachtenberg and his husband, Rick Wilson, have a personal reason for supporting the restoration of Waring Historical Library, which houses the rare book and special collections of the Medical University of South Carolina. Wilson is the five-times great grandson of Dr. Robert Wilson, who along with his sons, gifted the original collection to MUSC.

A Q&A with David Trachtenberg

Why is it important to you to support the renovation of Waring Historical Library?

Image shows the front cover of an antique plantation prescription book.The Waring is a unique community asset for the collection and preservation of our South Carolina medical history. From an 1834 handwritten plantation medical recipe book highlighting the role women and the enslaved population played in community health care, to the Hurricane Hugo Oral History Project, and the more recent collection of COVID-related source materials, the library’s collection is a critical resource to help understand and learn from our common South Carolina experience. 

We have an obligation to ensure that future generations have continued access to our historical records – and a stable environment in which the collection can continue to grow.

How does this gift honor your family’s history?

 A Wilson Tradition

The nucleus of the collection is the library of the Medical Society of South Carolina, which began in 1791 with a gift by Dr. Robert Wilson and his sons, Drs. Samuel and Robert Wilson. My husband, Richard LeNoble Wilson, is the great-great-plus grandson of these physicians – and I represent the family some 230 years plus later on the Waring Library board. It’s an honor to continue the Wilson family tradition of being associated with MUSC and the Waring Library. 

What do you hope your investment will accomplish?

Rick and I hope to join our gift to others who share our commitment to address the library’s need to improve access and conservation: creating better usable space and protecting the collection from the threats posed by our Charleston weather.

Who do you hope to inspire with your gift?

We hope to inspire a broad and diverse community at MUSC and throughout South Carolina. The Waring Historical Library is a historical institution with relevance to our current and future health care challenges. We want to inspire people to give their relevant documents, their time to volunteer, and their financial contributions to help us reach our renovation goals. And we want to inspire others to use the Waring’s resources to research, write, and expand the documentation on our community’s medical history.

The library supports MUSC’s education and research missions by collecting and preserving original manuscripts, books and other items relating to the history of the university, the history of health sciences in South Carolina and the South.

Is there anything else you wish to add?

If you haven’t visited the Waring Library, make an appointment – and go. They always have interesting items on display. Find books and other objects related to a topic of interest for you. Get to know the library and the dedicated staff who work there. One visit will have you hooked and asking yourself what you can do for the cause! The Drs. Wilson would be amazed at what their initial gift has become. 

The Waring Historical Library restoration project

The Waring Building

The library, built in 1894, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the finest example of Neo Gothic architecture in Charleston. Although it is one of the oldest buildings on campus, it has not been significantly updated since the university acquired it in the 1960s. Learn more about restoration plans for the Waring.