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Inventory of the Williams Family Papers, 1882-2004

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: The majority of the collection consists of materials related to two memoirs written by Arthur V. Williams, Tales of Charleston 1930s, describing his childhood growing up in Charleston in the 1930s, and Tales of Clemson 1936-1940, on his four years at Clemson University prior to World War II. The collection also contains photographs of the Williams family of Charleston, South Carolina, primarily featuring Arthur V. Williams Sr., his wife Zerline Levy Williams, their two children Arthur V. Williams and Betty Gendelman, as well as correspondence and financial records which pertain mainly to Arthur V. Williams Sr. and his wife, Zerline Levy Williams, with a small amount relating to Arthur V. Williams.
Title: Williams family papers
Creator: Williams family
Date(s): 1882-2004  (bulk 1936-2004)  
Extent: 2.75 linear feet
(5 document boxes, 1 volume, 1 rolled item)
Repository: Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1017
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical Note

Arthur V. Williams Sr. (1878-1951) was born in Camden, South Carolina, to Jacob M. and Pauline G. Williams. After his father's death, he began working at an early age to help support his mother and nine siblings. In 1918, he married Zerline Levy (1898-1999) and the couple had two children, Betty and Arthur V. Williams Jr. Throughout his life he was a member of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, in Charleston, South Carolina, serving as secretary and treasurer from 1916 until 1936, when he resigned from that position and became president of the congregation. Arthur was also involved in several local Jewish organizations, including the Hebrew Benevolent Society, for which he served as president, the Hebrew Orphan Society, B'nai B'rith Lodge No. 593, for which he also served as president, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the Anti-Defamation League. Alongside his wife Zerline, he worked as the district manager of the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Massachusetts, for 35 years, until his death in 1951. Zerline went on to work as a life insurance agent with the New Jersey-based Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company for 15 more years before retiring.

Arthur V. Williams Jr. (1919-2007), was born to Arthur and Zerline Levy Williams in Charleston, South Carolina. After graduating from Charleston High School, he attended Clemson University from 1936 to 1940 and went on to graduate from the Medical College of South Carolina (now the Medical University of South Carolina) in 1943. He served in the United States Army as an internist from 1945 to 1947, during which time he met Mary Jane Mendelsohn, whom he married in 1946. After his service in the army, the couple moved to Milwaukee, where Arthur completed his residency at Marquette University School of Medicine, assisting in the design of the Kolff-type artificial kidney.

He then returned to Charleston to practice internal medicine, making significant advances in the field of nephrology. In 1955, he became one of the first American nephrologists to dialyze a human being. In 1966, he joined the faculty at MUSC to head the Hemodialysis Unit, establishing the first dialysis program in South Carolina and founding the MUSC Division of Nephrology, which he served as director from 1970 to 1984. In addition to writing a textbook on nephrology, he published two memoirs, Tales of Charleston 1930s, in 1999, and Tales of Clemson 1936-1940, in 2002.

Betty Williams Gendelman (1921-2007) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Zerline Levy and Arthur Williams. She married Sam Gendelman and the couple had three children: Arthur, Barry, and Paul.

Collection Overview

The majority of the collection pertains to two memoirs written by Arthur V. Williams Jr., Tales of Charleston 1930s, and Tales of Clemson 1936-1940. The material includes multiple drafts of both books (including early versions titled Memories 1920-1930 and The Four Years before WW2), related correspondence, documents regarding publication agreements and preparation, and public relations for the books. The collection also contains family correspondence, mainly between Arthur V. Williams Sr., his wife Zerline Levy Williams, and Arthur V. Williams Jr.; photographs of the Williams family, primarily dating from the 1920s through the 1930s, with a smaller number from the 1940s; a small amount of financial records pertaining primarily to Arthur V. William Sr. and the mortgage on the family's home at 11 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston; and a detailed ledger of Arthur V. William Jr.'s monthly expenses from 1956 to 1959. The collection also includes a small number of genealogical files, awards, and U.S. Army documents regarding Arthur V. Williams Jr.'s service.

Collection Arrangement

1.  Writings, 1997-2004, undated
2.  Correspondence, 1882, 1929-2002, undated
3.  Photographs, 1917-1949, undated
4.  Financial Records, 1935-1959, undated
5.  Biographical materials, 1941-2003, undated

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Williams, Arthur V., 1919-2007
    • Williams, Arthur V., 1878-1951
    • Richmond, Zerline Levy Williams, 1898-1999
    • Gendelman, Betty Williams, 1921-
    • Williams family
    • Clemson University--History


    • Jews--South Carolina--Charleston
    • Jewish authors--South Carolina--Charleston
    • Autobiography Authorship
    • Authors--South Carolina--Charleston


    • Charleston (S.C.)--Biography
    • Clemson (S.C.)--Biography

    Types of Material

    • Autobiographies
    • Typescripts
    • Manuscripts for publication
    • Correspondence
    • Black-and-white photographs
    • Financial records
    • Files (document groupings)
    • Genealogical tables
    • Military records
    • Programs (documents)

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in Special Collections include an oral history interview with Zerline Levy Williams Richmond, Arthur V. Williams Jr., and Betty Williams Gendelman (Mss 1035-79) and an oral history interview with Arthur V. Williams Jr. and Elza Meyers Alterman (Mss 1035-114).

    Detailed Description of the Collection

    Close All | Open All

    1. Writings, 1997-2004, undated  

    Typescripts and related working files for two memoirs written by Arthur V. Williams Jr., the nephrology textbook, Self-assessment of Current Knowledge in Nephrology, and an unpublished, incomplete memoir regarding his time in medical school.

    Tales of Charleston 1930's, 1997-2004, undated 

    Documents relating to Tales of Charleston 1930s, including correspondence, invoices, publishing agreements, drafts, proofs, and manuscripts.

    Typescripts, 1997-1999, undated

    Draft typescripts in various stages of production, including copies with handwritten edits and suggested revisions.

    Memories 1920-1930, 1997   box 1 | folder 1

    An early version of Tales of Charleston 1930s, titled Memories 1920-1930.

    "Second draft 10/3/97," 1997   box 1 | folder 2

    Typescript with edits, 1998   box 1 | folder 3

    Typescript, 1999   box 1 | folder 4

    "Final draft 1/4/99," 1999   box 1 | folder 5

    Printers proof with edits, 1999   box 1 | folder 6

    Typescripts, undated   box 1 | folder 7-8

    Typescripts, undated   box 2 | folder 1-2

    Working files, 1998-2004, undated

    Documents pertaining to the editing, publishing, promotion, and sales of Tales of Charleston, 1930s, as well as post-publication materials such as reviews and fan mail.

    Jewish Heritage Collections Publications Committee files, 1998-1999   box 2 | folder 3

    Photograph submission to Reform Magazine, 1999   box 2 | folder 4

    Public relations, 1999   box 2 | folder 5

    Distribution, 1999   box 2 | folder 6

    Reviews and reactions, 1999-2000   box 2 | folder 7

    Fan mail, 1999-2002   box 2 | folder 8

    Printing, 1999-2004   box 2 | folder 9

    Sales, 1999-2004   box 2 | folder 10

    Research articles, undated   box 2 | folder 11

    Tales of Clemson 1936-1940, 2000-2002, undated 

    Manuscript drafts and correspondence related to Arthur V. Williams Jr.'s memoir about his four years at Clemson University, as well as a small amount of related correspondence.

    Wayne Chapman correspondence with attached typescript, 2001-2002   box 3 | folder 1

    Typescripts, undated   box 3 | folder 2-5

    Includes early version of the typescript titled The Four Years Before WW2.

    Typescripts, undated   box 4 | folder 1-2

    Includes early version of the typescript titled The Four Years Before WW2.

    Working files, 2000-2002   box 4 | folder 3

    Other, undated 

    Self-assessment of Current Knowledge in Nephrology drafts, undated   box 4 | folder 4

    Medical school recollections (untitled), undated   box 4 | folder 5

    An unfinished, untitled memoir.

    2 . Correspondence, 1882, 1929-2002, undated  

    Contains family correspondence between Arthur V. Williams Sr. and his wife, Zerline Levy Williams, and their children Arthur V. Williams Jr. and Betty Williams Gendelman. Family correspondence includes discussion of Arthur Jr.'s engagement to Mary Jane Mendelsohn and his career progress, as well as visits between family members, injuries, and Arthur V. Williams Sr.'s health. Also includes business correspondence between Arthur V. Williams Sr.'s insurance policy clients and between New England Mutual and Zerline Williams after Arthur's death, in which she is told she cannot become a licensed employee of the company because she is a woman. Of note is a small amount of correspondence pertaining to Arthur V. Williams Sr.'s work with the Anti-Defamation League during World War II.

    Family correspondence, 1882, 1929-1936   box 5 | folder 1

    Family correspondence, 1946-1947   box 5 | folder 2

    Family correspondence, 1948-1949   box 5 | folder 3

    Family correspondence, 1950-1951   box 5 | folder 4

    Family correspondence, 1953-1964   box 5 | folder 5

    Family correspondence, 1986-2002   box 5 | folder 6

    Family correspondence, undated   box 5 | folder 7

    Arthur V. Williams Sr. Anti-Defamation League correspondence, 1943-1946   box 5 | folder 8

    Business correspondence, 1949-1950   box 5 | folder 9

    Business correspondence, 1951-1952   box 5 | folder 10

    3. Photographs, 1917- circa 1970, 1997, undated  

    Williams family, 1917-circa 1970, 1997   box 5 | folder 11

    Includes photographs of Arthur V. Williams Sr., his wife Zerline Williams, and their two children Arthur V. Williams Jr. and Betty Gendelman. Also includes Zerline's mother, Fanny Kahn Levy (known as "Sweetheart"), Arthur and Betty's cousin Elza Meyers, Mary Williams, and Betty Gendelman as an adult with her two sons, Barry and Paul.

    Arthur V. Williams Jr. and friends, 1938, undated   box 5 | folder 12

    Snapshots of Arthur V. Williams Jr. and several friends during his teenage years.

    Miscellaneous, undated   box 5 | folder 13

    Includes a photographic reproduction of a yearbook page featuring the Charleston High School Class of 1936, and photographs of the exterior of the Craft School, the Williams family's home on Wentworth Street, Mary Meyers (an African-American servant in the Williams home), Isadore ("Izzy") Blank, and Jack Meyers.

    4. Financial Records, 1935-1959, undated  

    The majority of financial records relate to Arthur V. Williams Sr. and Zerline Levy Williams, including loan applications and agreements, payment schedules, and mortgage documents pertaining to the purchase of the family's home at 11 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston. Also includes contracts and payment agreements for significant repairs and home improvements, tax return forms with yearly income information, insurance policies, and bank balances. A ledger belonging to Arthur V. Williams Jr. contains detailed records of monthly expenses from 1956-1959.

    Financial records, 1935-1936   box 5 | folder 14

    Financial records, 1937-1938   box 5 | folder 15

    Financial records, 1941-1951, undated   box 5 | folder 16

    Ledger, 1956-1959   volume 1

    Includes detailed monthly expenses of Arthur V. Williams Jr.

    5. Biographical materials, 1931-1947, 1961-2003, undated  

    Arthur V. Williams Jr. military documents, 1941-1947   box 5 | folder 17

    Williams's appointment as second lieutenant in the Medical Administration Corps, and a copy of his military record and report of separation.

    Genealogical documents, 2003, undated   box 5 | folder 18

    Includes lists of names and birth dates of ancestors, handwritten notes, and an oral history transcript of an interview with Arthur V. Williams Jr. and Elza Meyers Alterman by Dale Rosengarten and Michael Grossman on February 3, 1997.

    Williams family tree, undated   Rolled Item 1

    Clippings, 1934-1946   box 5 | folder 19

    Includes the wedding announcement for Arthur V. Williams Jr. and Mary Jane Mendelsohn, articles on New England Mutual, and issues of The Tiger, Clemson's student newspaper.

    Miscellaneous, 1931-1944, 1961-2001, undated   box 5 | folder 20

    Awards, events programs, acceptance speeches, and songs and speeches to Zerline Williams in honor of her 100th birthday.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Williams family papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2002 by Betty Williams Gendelman, and in 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2013 by Mary Williams Ventola.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Amy Lazarus, June 2015.

    Encoded by Amy Lazarus, July 2015.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Joshua Minor, November 2015.

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