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Franklin B. Williams, Jr. Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS270

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

Franklin B. Williams, Jr. (1906-1997) Professor of English at Georgetown University (1939-1974) is best known for his magnum opus "An Index to Dedications and Commendatory Verses in English Books before 1641," 1962. Throughout the course of more than twenty years Professor Williams consulted the prefatory material in early English printed books in over 120 libraries in Britain, the European continent, and the United States. The resulting index is an indispensable resource for the study of literary patronage and bibliography in Elizabethan England. Williams's exposure to an enormous quantity of Short Title Catalogue books also made him an important consultant to Katharine F. Pantzer, William A. Jackson, and F. S. Ferguson in their revised and enlarged second edition of A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave's "Short Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640" (STC). The scholarly correspondence which makes up the papers of Franklin B. Williams, Jr. centers mainly on Williams's project to index the dedications and commendatory verses found in English books printed before 1641. Also contained in these papers are letters relating to the completion of the second edition of the STC and letters exchanged between Williams and scholars working in the literary history and especially literary patronage of Elizabethan England. Scholars aware of Williams's work on dedications often wrote to him before the publication of his index, requesting assistance with the existence and/or whereabouts of rare English books. Williams's network of correspondents aided him in the immense project of cataloging the prefatory material in all STC books. Using this finding aid, researchers should note that only important or frequent correspondents have been indexed. Lesser known correspondents are interspersed throughout the papers in chronological order. Occasionally Williams bound related groups of letters together with staples or paper clips. These bindings have been removed and replaced with paper dividers to maintain the original organization. While this practice makes it easy to locate related correspondence it also disrupts the chronological order found elsewhere. In all cases these sets of letters have been filed based on their earliest date and are found in the index. Before donation, these papers were stripped of personal correspondence. It should also be noted that nearly all correspondence in these papers written by Williams is made up of carbon copies. Often these carbons are typed directly on the backs of the letters to which they respond. In these cases they are filed by the earliest date of the two letters. Printed matter contained in these papers consists of newspaper articles written by Williams from both before and after he became a scholar, proofs and offprints of articles by Williams and other scholars, and brochures from professional conferences. These materials are interspersed among the correspondence in chronological order. Related collections held by Georgetown Special Collections are the John C. Hirsh Papers, the Bernard M. Wagner Papers, and the Heinrich A. Rommen Papers.


  • 1931 - 1980
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1974

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.


3 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Franklin B. Williams, Jr. Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057