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James H. Williams Papers

Identifier: LP000462

Scope and Content

The papers of James H. Williams reflect his involvement in various student and radical organizations in the early and mid 1960s, and, to a lesser degree, his activities in the NEASO in the early 1970s.

Important subjects covered in this collection are: Blacks, Poverty, Committee for Miners, Student Peace Union, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Students for a Democratic Society, NEA Staff Organization, Union Staff Organizations, Nuclear Weapons, Vietnam War Protests, Police Harassment

Among the important correspondents are: Robb Burlage, Steve Max, Rennie Davis, Don McKelvey, Todd Gitlin, Sue Thrasher

Series Description: Series I, Student and Radical Organizations, 1947-1970: Correspondence, position papers, newsletters and other material collected by Williams while he was active in various student and radical organizations in the 1960s. This series includes information on the relations among these organizations, the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, poverty in the South, police and government harassment, nuclear weapons and disarmament, and university reform and academic freedom.

Series II, National Education Association Staff Organization, 1970-1971: Correspondence, agreements, leaflets, press releases, and notes relating to the negotiations between the National Education Association and the NEA Staff Organization in which Williams was involved. Included in this series is information on other union staff organizations.


  • 1947 - 1971
  • Majority of material found within 1961 - 1971


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


James H. Williams was active in radical, student, and labor organizations during the 1960s and 1970s. From 1962 through 1964, while a political science student at the University of Louisville, Williams founded the Students for Social Action, the Louisville branch of the Students for a Democratic Society, and was on the editorial staff of the student newspaper, the "Cardinal." While in college, Williams was also active in the Louisville Student Peace Union, he helped organize the March 1964 March on Frankfurt, Kentucky, for civil rights, he sought support among Louisville students for the Hazard, Kentucky, Miners for Democracy, and he edited the "New South Review," a journal of radical politics. During the early and mid 1960s Williams also worked with the Southern Student Organizing Committee, an organization which attempted to coordinate student activism in Southern states, he sat on the National Council of the SDS and was the SDS's Political Education Project director, and he was on the Board of Directors of Operation Freedom, a civil rights organization. Williams was also a member of the Americans for Democratic Action and the Young Peoples' Socialist League. After leaving college, Williams served on the staff of "IUE News," was director of research and publications for the West Virginia Federation of Labor, was assistant editor of "The Guild Reporter" and assistant director of research and information for the American Newspaper Guild, and acted as chairman of the West Virginia chapter of Workers' Education Local 189, AFT. In 1970 Williams worked for the National Education Association and was active in the NEA Staff Organization, the negotiating unit for NEA staff members. He served as a member of the strike steering committee in the NEASO strike against the NEA in May and June of 1971. Williams left the NEA in 1974 and went to work for the newspaper "Labor Today."


3.5 Linear Feet (7 MB)


A founder of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Louisville branch, Students for Social Action, James Williams was active in various radical, student and labor organizations, such as the Southern Student Organizing Committee, the young People’s Socialist League, and Operation Freedom. Mr. Williams held positions on the staff of the IUE News, the West Virginia Federation of Labor, the American Newspaper Guild, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Workers Education Local 189, the National Education Association (NEA), and Labor Today. Mr. Williams’ papers reflect his involvement in various student and radical organizations, and to a lesser degree, his participation in the NEA Staff Organization (NEASO). The Committee for Miners, selective service, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and SDS are among important subjects in the collection.


Arranged in 2 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-7), and Series 2 (Box 7). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


The papers of James H. Williams were deposited in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs from 1971 through 1974 by James H. Williams.


About a dozen photographs and negatives of the March 1964 March on Frankfurt, Kentucky, and the Appalachian Committee for Full Employment, and two posters have been turned over to the Archives Audiovisual Collection. In addition, three linear feet of radical and labor newspapers and pamphlets received with this collection have been placed in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in April 1984.
Guide to the James H. Williams Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA