James T. Williams papers, 1836-1947

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke...
More about accessing and using these materials...


Williams, James T., 1881-1969
48 Linear Feet
36,000 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Williams Papers span the period 1836 to 1947 with the bulk dating from 1904 to 1942. The collection contains the following series: Diaries and Reminiscences; Correspondence; Subject Files; Legal Papers; Financial Papers; Writings and Speeches; Miscellaneous; Clippings; Printed Material; and Pictures. Correspondence comprises the majority of the collection and particularly focuses on Williams's professional career during the period from 1910 to 1925 when he was editor of the Tucson Citizen and the Boston Evening Transcript. While the collection documents aspects of Williams's personal and professional life from his college days through the early 1940s, the last twenty years of his life are not included. There is as well very little information about the Teapot Dome Affair in the correspondence, which occurred during the period covered by the collection.

Williams wrote, spoke, and accumulated material about a variety of topics and concerns which are represented in different parts of the collection. Among the most prominent are Aviation and the Presidential Elections of 1916, 1920, and 1924 which are found in the Correspondence, Subject Files, Writings and Speeches, Clippings, Printed Material and Pictures Series; Military preparedness before the entry of the United States into World War I in the Correspondence, Subject Files, Writings and Speeches, and Pictures Series; Arizona's efforts to achieve statehood in the Correspondence, Legal Papers, and Writings and Speeches Series; Massachusetts politics in the Diaries and Reminiscences, Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, Clippings, and Printed Material Series; and Peace and disarmament in the Correspondence, Subject Files, Clippings and Printed Material Series. Prominent politicians such as Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover are represented in the Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, and Clippings Series. The collection would be of interest to researchers studying the League of Nations, the Republican Party during the first quarter of the 20th century, and the political and social climate in Greenville, S.C..

The Correspondence Series illustrates that as a leading spokesman for the Republican Party, Williams corresponded with many public figures concerning the topics above. After moving to Tucson, Williams became involved in Arizona's efforts to become a state. He represented the positions taken by President Taft and expressed these viewpoints in numerous editorials related to political matters. Many letters criticize Woodrow Wilson and Josephus Daniels for their policies relating to military preparedness and foreign relations. Of particular note are Williams's strong opposition to the League of Nations and his correspondence in the collection with leading opponents of the League, including Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924), William Edgar Borah, Hiram Warren Johnson, and Frank Bosworth Brandegee.

Also included in the Correspondence Series is extensive family correspondence containing material about the social life and political affairs in Greenville, S.C., where Williams's father was mayor, and about his mother's family, the McBees of Lincolnton, N.C. Numerous letters were written by his uncles, Silas McBee, a noted Episcopal clergyman and editor in New York; William Ephraim Mikell, Dean of the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania; and William Alexander Guerry, an Episcopal bishop in South Carolina. There are also letters from cousins, Mary Vardrine McBee, who founded Ashley Hall, a school for girls in Charleston, South Carolina, and Alexander Guerry, who served in various positions at the University of Chatanooga and at The University of the South. Other correspondents in the series include William Howard Taft, Leonard Wood, Nicholas Murray Butler, Albert J. Beveridge, Calvin Coolidge, Frank H. Hitchcock, Charles Nagel, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Wingate Weeks.

Related collections include the Vardry Alexander McBee Papers at Duke University, the Silas McBee and the McBee Family collections at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the James Thomas Williams (1845-1936) Papers at the University of South Carolina, and an interview with Williams in the Biographical Oral History Collection at Columbia University.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1881, Aug. 10
Born, Lincolnton, N.C.
Attended Furman College in Greenville, S.C.
Attended the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.
Received B.A. from Columbia University
Employed at The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.
Washington correspondent for Associated Press (AP)
AP representative at Democratic and Republican national conventions
AP representative at Portsmouth Peace Conference
Washington correspondent for the Boston Evening Transcript
Elected member of U.S. Naval Institute
Worked for Republican Party and on campaign staff of William Howard Taft
U.S. Civil Service Commissioner. Contracted tuberculosis and admitted to Fort Bayard Army Hospital in New Mexico.
Editor and part owner of the Tucson Citizen newspaper
Delegate-at-large from Arizona at Republican National Convention
Editor of the Boston Evening Transcript, a Republican newspaper
Applied for service in U.S. Army and was rejected because of physical disability
Decorated Knight of the Order of Leopold (Belgium) and Commander of the Order of the Crown (Italy)
Received honorary (D.C.L.) degree from the University of the South; Appointed to Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy by President Coolidge
Columnist for the Boston American, a Hearst paper
Contributing editor for Hearst's National Syndicate in Washington, D.C.
Received LL.D. from Norwich University
Washington representative for the Chicago Daily News foreign service
Employed at Sperry Gyroscope Corporation for public relations
Returned to Greenville, S.C. to live with sister
1969, Dec. 26
Died in Greenville, S.C.

After 1937 and for the remainder of his career, he lectured across the country and was a free lance writer. Member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Society of the Cincinnati, and Metropolitan, Cosmos, Army and Navy clubs.

Acquisition information:
The Williams Papers were purchased by Duke University Library in 1970.
Processing information:

Processed by: Janie C. Morris

Encoded by Stephen Miller

Completed October 25, 1991

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

copyright interests in these papers have not been transferred to the University. For more information consult the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], James T. Williams Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.