U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. About Us
  3. Site Links
  4. Archived
  5. News Archive
  6. Celebrating Past Presidents and Their Immigrant Parents, Part II: Woodrow Wilson

Archived Content

In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

Celebrating Past Presidents and Their Immigrant Parents, Part II: Woodrow Wilson

This blog was originally posted by the USCIS Blog Team to The Beacon on February 15.

In this series of three blog posts celebrating Presidents Day, we honor three of our nation's presidents who grew up with immigrant parents.

The mother of the United States' 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, was an immigrant.

Janet E. "Jessie" Woodrow was born in Carlisle, England, in 1830. She immigrated with her family to New York in 1836, then to Canada before settling in Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1849 she married Joseph Ruggles Wilson. In 1856 she gave birth to Thomas Woodrow, the third of four children, in their new home in Staunton, Virginia. Janet passed away in 1888.

Woodrow (who would go by his middle name, which was his mother's maiden name) didn't begin reading until he was 10. Yet much of his adolescence and early adulthood revolved around education. He attended Davidson College in North Carolina before transferring to the College of New Jersey (which would later change its name to Princeton University). He attended law school at the University of Virginia for one year. He earned his doctorate while studying history and political science at Johns Hopkins University.

Woodrow Wilson held his first elected office when he became governor of New Jersey in 1911. Two years later he was in the White House, having been elected president of the United States. He led the nation from 1913 to 1921.

Learn more about our nation's 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.



Last Updated: 09/20/2018
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content