Jeffrey Wilson was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1948. His father was born and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey. During World War II, his father was a contentious objector and did alternative service at a hospital in Massachusetts. His mother grew up in Massachusetts and attended Simmons College, earning a degree in library science. Jeffrey Wilson and his older brother grew up in Roselle and Green Brook, New Jersey.
In 1966, he started at Rutgers in the School of Engineering, before deciding to switch to Rutgers College and majoring in economics. A commuter during his undergraduate years, he describes the Commuter's Lounge in Clothier Hall, along with mandatory programs that freshmen had to attend and memorable speakers and musical performances on campus. During the campus shutdown in the spring of 1970, he remembers how professors handled final exams and grading procedures. With the Vietnam War draft looming, he became a contentious objector, serving his alternative service at Goodwill in Jersey City.
He spent his career working at Rutgers University in several positions, including the budget and resources department in New Brunswick and in the Newark provost's office as a budget manager. He earned graduate degrees in education and business and taught economics part time at Middlesex County College.
Jeffrey Wilson's oral history is a part of the Class of 1970 Oral History Project to commemorate the class's fiftieth reunion milestone.