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Guide to the Papers of Nicholas Wahl MC 146

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY, 10012
(212) 998-2641

New York University Archives

Collection processed by Laura Sextro, 2002-2003. Additional processing by Tai Vardi.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 15, 2015
Description is in English.

Biography of Nicholas Wahl

Anthony Nicholas Maria Wahl, born June 7, 1928, to Hungarian immigrant parents, grew up in New York, New York. In 1949 Wahl earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Wisconsin, and in 1956 he earned his doctorate in political science from Harvard University. Wahl's dissertation, De Gaulle and the Resistance¸ which focused on the rivalry that developed in wartime between De Gaulle's Free French in exile and the resistance movement in France, brought him to the frontlines of French politics. During his studies he developed personal and professional connections to political scientists and various French politicians, such as Charles de Gaulle and Michel Debré, both of whom later gained political power in the late 1950s through the 1960s. Throughout his lifetime, Wahl maintained these advantageous personal and professional connections that he had fostered in his early education and career.

After completing his graduate work, Wahl became an instructor of undergraduate- and graduate-level history, government, and political science courses at Harvard University (1958-1964) and Princeton University (1964-1978). He also served as a visiting professor at various institutions including Columbia University, Nuffield College at Oxford, University of Paris X-Nanterre: Institut d'Etudes Politiques, the University of Saigon and Bryn Mawr College.

In 1978 Wahl was courted by New York University (NYU) to found the Institute of French Studies (IFS). While teaching French politics, history, and social sciences, Wahl also helped mold the institute into a thriving center for the interdisciplinary study of French society through social sciences. Regular visitations, lectures, and instruction by French politicians and academics helped to achieve one of the goals of the IFS: to foster dialogue between the United States and France.

Wahl rose to prominence in French and European studies circles through his participation in organizations, frequent contributions to publications, and regular attendance at conferences. He co-founded the Association for French Cultural Studies, and in 1975 he served as co-founder and first president of the French American Foundation. Wahl's efforts received recognition from his colleagues who often dedicated their own works to him. More notably, the French government awarded him the Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

On September 13, 1996, Wahl succumbed to cancer in London. His achievements as a scholar and contributions to the development of French cultural studies have created invaluable resources for continuing generations of students.


  • Nicholas Wahl, Biographical File, New York University Archives, Archives H.
  • "In Memoriam Nicholas Wahl," French Politics and Society, Vol. 14, No. 4, Autumn 1996.