Scope and arrangement
The collection documents Williams's professional and personal life through correspondence, photographs, programs, posters, date books, travel records, artifacts, and other materials.
Correspondence files occupy a significant share of the collection. Williams toured the world extensively with the Ailey Company and wrote frequently to other dancers, longtime friends and lovers, as well as casual acquaintances during his travels. Personal and professional letters are intermingled in these files. In particular, letters to and from Richard E. Jones, a lover of Williams's in the 1970s, offer a detailed account of Williams's experience of traveling and performing internationally. There is one folder of notes and letters from and about Alvin Ailey. Additional business correspondence can be found in the Employment files. Address Books document relationships Williams maintained all over the world and include the contact information of fellow dancers, dance critics, friends, lovers, and social hot spots.
Williams frequently attended dance performances and concerts, from which he retained nearly every ticket stub, programs, and playbill. Ticket stubs are filed with Artifacts, while Programs constitute their own sizable grouping. Programs and playbills for Williams's own performances and for other performances are intermingled among these files. Some other printed promotional material, such as invitation cards, are also filed in this grouping.
Photographs include professional studio portraits of Williams; action shots of Williams alone or with others in performance and rehearsals; and numerous candid snapshots of Williams alone, traveling, attending cultural events, or with friends. About a third of the photographs are 8 x 10 inch black and white prints, many others are small color or black and white snapshots, and a few oversize prints are also present.
Date Books contain detailed notes handwritten in small print about Williams's professional schedule and personal activities from the 1970s through the 1990s.
Williams toured Europe frequently and Africa at least once with the Ailey Company. Tours and Travel files document these trips and include itineraries, performance schedules, passports, and reference information about destinations. More detailed tour schedules are filed with Employment records.
Education files encompass Williams's elementary schooling through his role as a distinguished alumnus of both the High School of the Performing Arts and Juilliard and include autograph books, yearbooks, a felt pennant, piano recital programs, and alumni lists.
Numerous posters promoting Williams's performances, mostly with Ailey, are included in the collection as are a few pieces of original art for which Williams was apparently the model.
Newspaper and magazine clippings about Williams's performances are present. Some are arranged in scrapbooks and others are loose and filed in folders.
The collection is arranged alphabetically by subject or format.