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  • The name T. Harry Williams conjures up many images for those who knew him. He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and an outstanding teacher of southern history, who had a flair for the dramatic. Williams was also an innovative scholar and a pioneer in the field of oral history.

    Williams was born in Illinois, moved to Wisconsin, and received his Bachelors Degree in Education from Platteville State Teachers College, Wisconsin. He earned Masters and Doctorate Degrees in History from the University of Wisconsin. He taught history at several universities, the final one being Louisiana State University, where he was a professor from 1941 until 1979. He became a Boyd Professor of History in 1953. In 1979, the LSU Board of Supervisors established the T. Harry Williams Chair of American History. Also that year, the T. Harry Williams Scholarship Fund was created.

    Among Williams' many academic honors were Doctor of Law, Northland College (1953); Guggenheim Fellow (1957); Doctor of Letters, Bradley University (1959); Harry S. Truman Award in Civil War History (1964); Harmsworth Professor of American History, Queen's College, Oxford, England (1966-1967); Doctor of Humane Letters, Loyola University (1974); and Doctor of Humane Letters, Tulane University (1979). Williams was the President of the Southern Historical Association (1958-1959) and Organization of American Historians (1972-1973). In 1991, LSU Libraries Special Collections established the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, to record and preserve the oral history of the university and Louisiana.*

    When he began research for his biography of Huey Long, Williams used tape-recorded interviews with both supporters and opponents of the late-governor. So it is with the oral history technique Williams developed that we ask you to turn your attention to remembrances by his former students, friends, and colleagues. The effect that he had on his students and colleagues was long-lasting. Almost everyone we interviewed tells a similar story about how difficult his classes were to get into and how people would line up outside of the lecture hall just to hear him speak. His colleagues remember him fondly both as a scholar and as a friend.

    *Please note: The T. Harry Williams Papers are not actually part of the Williams Center's collection, but are rather classified separately within LSU Libraries' Special Collections, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections. For further information, see the LLMVC and a list of Special Collections Finding Aids.

The T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History | LSU Libraries Special Collections
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Last Updated: Friday, 13-Dec-2013 11:10:03 CST