Wayne Wilson has dedicated the past 26 years of his life to preserving and sharing the history of the Olympic Movement. As the vice president of communications and education at the LA84 Foundation, Wilson has digitized and made available to the public more than 120,000 sports-related articles, books, monographs and other documents. His is a career that has impacted countless individuals — from the thousands of Olympians whose performances and legacies he is protecting, to the historians who make use of the documents on a daily basis — whether they know his name or not.
Wilson’s accomplishments were recognized with the International Society of Olympic Historian’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award at a celebration Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the LA84 Foundation. The ISOH, which is committed to disseminating as much information about Olympic history as possible to as many people as possible, selected Wilson as its 10th annual Lifetime Achievement Award honoree “for his role in digitizing important sources about Olympic history and making them available to anyone with access to the Internet,” according to the ISOH.
“This award is especially meaningful to me because of my deep respect for the International Society of Olympic Historians,” Wilson said. “For the past 15 years, we’ve been proud to host the ISOH’s ‘Journal of Olympic History’ on the LA84 website, where it can be used by Olympic researchers around the world.”
After joining the LA84 Foundation in 1987 (then known as the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles), Wilson led the organization of the foundation’s sports library, which opened to the public in August 1988. Today, the library is home to more than 40,000 sports-related books, 7,000 videos and 90,000 photos.
The foundation’s website launched in 1995, followed by its digital archive two years later. Among the 120,000 documents available at LA84.org are the official reports of every Olympic Games from 1896 to 2008 – 49 Games in total.
“What makes his achievement all the more impressive is that all of this material is full-text searchable,” said David Wallechinsky, president of the ISOH, which is the only historical organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee. “Wilson and his team, including Ed Derse, Shirley Ito, Michael Salmon and Ana Rico, have done a great service to the world of Olympic history by creating the LA84 searchable database.”
This marks the third year an American has received the ISOH’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the first year it has been awarded to just one American. The award was previously split by historians John A. Lucas and David C. Young in 2007 and authors Allen Guttmann and Robert K. “Bob” Barney in 2009.