Scope and arrangement
Franklin H. Williams Papers document the career of an African-American civil rights lawyer, diplomat, and foundation president. The collection is divided into six chronological series representing Williams' career paths; a seventh series is comprised of his writings, speeches, and other miscellaneous material.
Very little of the material in the collection, with the exception of the first series, can be considered to be of a private nature. While there is scattered correspondence with family members and close friends, the vast majority of the collection deals with Williams' public life and work.
The Williams, Franklin H. Papers are arranged in nine series:
The small collection of documentation in this Personal Papers series provides brief glimpses into Williams' background and youth. It begins with Education Employment, 1915-1936, which covers Williams' years at Flushing High School, including several campus newspapers edited by Williams, as well as a scrapbook, and brief correspondence. His years at Lincoln University, 1937-1941, are documented by a yearbook, two scrapbooks, several report cards, invitations and programs, as well as some scattered correspondence. Williams' service in World War II, 1942-1943 is chronicled by army records, correspondence, and ephemera. Finally, his years at Fordham University, 1944-1945, are sketched with limited correspondence and ephemera.
This series is comprised of papers covering the years that Williams worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), including three scrapbooks. The first subseries Special Attorney, New York, 1945-1950, covers Williams' work with Thurgood Marshall and the legal department of the NAACP. It is comprised chiefly of legal briefs on a variety of cases as well as a substantial collection of clippings and some correspondence and testimony relating to Walter Lee Irvin's appeal of his death sentence for the murder and rape of a woman in Groveland, Florida (Groveland Case). Marshall argued the appeal, winning Irvin a sentence of life imprisonment which was later commuted. The second subseries, Western Region Director, California, 1951-1959, is comprised of press releases, reports, correspondence, and ephemera from the 1957 Freedom Fund Dinner.
Series is comprised of correspondence, legal material and reports covering Williams' tenure as Assistant Attorney General. It provides limited information about the Non-Partisan Crusade to Register 1,000,000 Negro Voters and other projects under Williams' direction.
Consists largely of correspondence with Sargent Shriver and other Peace Corps officials, reports, and press releases regarding Williams' role as African Regional Director.
Series is comprised largely of correspondence and a limited amount of notes and reports.
Consists of correspondence, clippings, itineraries, agendas, and the guest book for the U.S. Embassy to Ghana during Williams' tenure. Some coverage of the coup that overthrew Kwame Nkrumah is provided in this subseries, as is material dealing with American relations with Ghana and several other African nations.
Includes correspondence, clippings, reports and programs which provide insight into Williams' efforts to bridge the cultural gap between Columbia University and the residents of Harlem through University programs. It includes a good deal of correspondence regarding Williams' hiring and resignation, as well as a scrapbook of the Center's activities presented to him upon his resignation.
This is by far the largest series, this group has been divided into subseries reflecting some of Williams' many interests during his tenure as President of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. General Correspondence, 1970-1990, organized chronologically, covers Williams' personal appearances and networks as well as the internal and external business of the Fund. Williams' participation in the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1971-1987 is covered in a separate subseries, mostly comprised of bound transcripts of hearings held by the Commission on equal opportunity, housing and construction. The third subseries includes correspondence, reports, and minutes from the many Boards and Organizations, 1968-1990, Williams participated in. These organizations run the gamut from Con Edison to the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, and demonstrate Williams' interest in African-American and African culture as well as his determination to force major corporations to provide equal opportunities for African-Americans. His involvement with the NAACP Task Force on Africa, 1976-1978, a fact-finding trip, is documented by correspondence, scrapbooks, and the report and recommendations which came from the trip. Williams' eventually successful efforts to construct a Ralph Bunche Memorial, 1972-1979 to honor the statesman are amply documented in correspondence covering the construction, funding, and design of the monument, as well as drawings, financial reports, and programs. His continuing interest in foreign policy is represented in correspondence, minutes, and other reports documenting his participation in the Council on Foreign Relations, 1976-1981. Several Phelps Stokes Fund Publications, 1973-1979, regarding Native Americans and relations with Africa are part of this collection. Williams' work for the National News Council, 1979-1981, is chronicled in several bound volumes of correspondence and reports.
Consists of material written by Williams and a selection of published material about him. Speeches, 1965-1989, contains drafts and final versions of speeches on civil rights, education, and foreign policy, many made at commencements and other educational forums. Writings, 1946-1989, includes interviews, published articles, drafts, letters to the editors, and a series of editorials Williams wrote, entitled Commentaries. Included is correspondence, press releases, legal records, and clippings related to the editorials written between 1978-1984 on current events, racism, and education. About Franklin H. Williams, 1946-1990, includes clippings and articles mentioning Williams which formed part of his personal collection. A large selection of clippings are included in this series, as well as press releases, Williams' FBI file, and documents regarding his memorial. In Memorabilia and Miscellany 1966-1980s, are collected souvenirs such as Ghanaian newspapers covering the coup, an oversized Jackie Robinson commemorative stamp, a large collection of clippings from 1900-1970s, drafts, and other research materials for a study on lynching, and a large box of certificates and awards, including honorary doctorates and appointments to boards, given to Williams spanning most of his professional career.