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Samuel W. Williams papers

 Collection — Box: 1-33
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0061

Scope and content

The Samuel W. Williams papers contain vital documents and information on one of Atlanta's most prominent clergymen of the 1960's. Among the material contained in this collection are Williams' sermons he delivered while pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, and other materials that document the church's history, such as budgets, correspondence, pamphlets, and bulletins.

Approximately one-third of the materials in this collection centers around Williams' academic career both as a student and professor. Included in this group of records are class notes taken by Williams when he was a student at the University of Chicago, and class and administrative records from a variety of colleges, including Morehouse College and Atlanta University.

Samuel Williams' civic activities are covered in two record series. Records generated as a result of his affiliation with the Atlanta Community Relations Commission, and the Atlanta Summit Leadership Conference document many important activities of both groups, including financial reports, minutes of meetings, correspondence, official reports, and newspaper clippings.

Other material in the collection include awards received by Williams over the course of his life. Also included are photographs and a large group of letters and postcards the Williams family received on the occasion of Dr.Williams' death in 1970.


  • Creation: 1932-1974


Access restrictions

Some materials in the collection contain personnel and student academic records that are restricted in accordance with university policy and applicable law. Restrictions, where applicable, are noted at the series, subseries, or file levels.

Rights Statement

Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Archives Research Center does not own the copyright for the manuscript or printed items in the Samuel W. Williams papers. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of such rights for materials in this collection.

No part of this finding aid may be reproduced with written premission of the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Archives Research Center.

Use restriction

Due to institutional policy, some materials in the Class/Personal Series can only be viewed at this time. No photocopies/ photographs may be taken of these materials. Restriction have been noted at the series, subseries, or file level.

Biographical note

The Reverend Samuel Woodrow Williams was a professor, minister, civic leader, and crusader for civil rights. Born in Sparkman, Arkansas, in 1912, Williams went on to attain degrees at Morehouse College (A.B.), Howard University (B.D. and M.A.), University of Chicago (Ph.D.), and Arkansas Baptist College (D.D.). During his twenty-four years in the city of Atlanta, Williams became a nationally known figure for his activities in community and civic work.

After completing his formal education in 1947, Williams came back to Morehouse College in Atlanta where he was professor and chairman of the department of Philosophy and Religion. As a scholar and religious leader, he lectured at more than 20 colleges and universities throughout the South and also in Israel. Among his students at Morehouse was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In addition to his pastorship at Friendship Baptist Church, Williams was quite active in public life. He was an important city leader who, along with state Sen. Leroy Johnson and Jesse Hill formed the Atlanta Summit Leadership Conference. Williams also chaired the Atlanta Community Relations Commission; as served as president and Board member of the Georgia Council on Human Relations.

As a civil rights leader Dr. Williams was among the initiators of civil rights protests in Atlanta, participating in the bus boycott of 1959 in Atlanta and testing in federal court the admissions policies of several colleges. Williams was also president of the Atlanta Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. After suffering complications as a result of a major operation, Reverend Williams died on October 11, 1970.


16.5 Linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection is divided into thirteen series including: I. Colleges and Universities, 1942-1970 II. General and Personal Correspondence, 1941-1970 III. Addresses and Speeches. 1941-1974 IV. Friendship Baptist Church, 1951-1971 V. Class Material/Personal VI. Sermons VII. Atlanta community relations commission papers, 1961-1970 VIII. Atlant summit leadership conference, 1964-1968 IX. Trophies and plaques, 1959-1970 X. Condolences, 1970 XI.National Association For Advancement of Colored People, 1959-1970 XII.New Era Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, 1969 Series XIII.Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1957-1969


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)announced an award on May 24, 1994 to the Atlanta University Center/Robert W. Woodruff library for the department of Archives and Special Collections to process collections on the lives and culture of prominent African American indivduals and institutions. The Samuel W. Williams papers represents one collection chosen for this project. The staff wishes to acknowledge with much apprectiation the NEH award and takes great pleasure in presenting the Samuel W. Williams paper to the community of scholars for review and study. The project was also in large part made possible by the support and dedication of Dr. Prince Rivers, former Interim Director, who wrote and submitted the proposal to the NEH for funding.

Wilson N. Flemister, Sr. Project Archivist

Samuel W. Williams papers, 1932-1974
In Progress
1997 January 22
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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