This collection comprises personal papers of Robert Wilson, compiled during the period 1803 -1855. A notable feature of the collection is the number of fine drawings and paintings which it contains. Most were created by Wilson himself, although some are attributed to an artist identified as G.C. Smith. Of particular interest in this respect are GB 231 MS 0416, which contains finely detailed, coloured drawings of Indian temples and palaces, and GB 231 MS440 and GB O231 MS 0442, which have water colour miniatures of Turkish officers of state and civilians.
The largest series in the collection contains Wilson's travel journals, and these fall into three natural groups. First, the journals of his Grand Tour of Europe, 1816 - 1820, containing details and many illustrations of his routes through France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Sicily (GB 231 MS 0413, 0420, 0428). Second, those recording his archaeological expeditions into the Near and Middle East, 1820 - 1822, containing particularly detailed descriptions of places, people and events encountered therein (GB 231 MS 0415 - 0419). These include details of a journey up the Nile as far as Abu Simbel, where Wilson was one of the first Europeans following Jean Louis Burckhardt's expedition of 1813 to view two temples there; an account of an expedition to view Persepolis, Persia, of which he gives a detailed description, including his excavation techniques supported by drawings (GB 231 MS 0417); an account of his travels through Palestine and Syria, where he was required to adopt Eastern dress and pretended to be the servant of his guide, Yusef (GB 231 MS 0418); and details of his travels with John Hyde in Mesopotamia, Assyria and Babylonia, where both men were held prisoner by the Kurds and the Singarres (GB 231 MS 0419). Some correspondence from this period also survives in two volumes, one containing extracts of letters sent to his brother, 1819 - 1826 (GB 231 MS 0434), the other containing copy letters to the Marquis of Lansdowne and Lord Lauderdale, regarding foreign commerce, 1820 - 1821 (GB 231 MS 0422). The third group of travel journals recounts the shorter European visits made by Wilson later in his life, to Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Bavaria, Austria and Norway, 1854 - 1855 and un-dated (GB 231 MS 0414, and 0435 - 0437).
A further significant group of records relates to Wilson's time as ship's surgeon with the Honourable East India Company, and contain detailed observations on both the general health and on specific medical cases encountered amongst the crew of the Glory, during its passage to India, 1805 - 1807 (GB 231 MS 0430 - 0432).
Other records in the collection include a manuscript of Wilson's (unpublished) novel, Hugh Conwaie (GB 231 MS 0427); two volumes of lecture notes taken by Wilson during Patrick Copland's Natural Philosophy class at Marischal College, 1803 (GB 231 MS 0438 - 0439); a volume of verses written by Wilson's son, Aylmer St Aubyn Wilson, MD, 1823 - 1858 (GB 231 MS 0424); and a catalogue of the Wilson Studio, with an inventory of his library, n.d. (GB 231 MS 443). Several further miscellaneous volumes contain correspondence, notes and observations on various matters. One of these contains detailed autobiographical notes written by Wilson, n.d. (GB 231 MS 0425).