Contents: Correspondence, memoranda, reports, speeches.
Arrangement: These files are arranged alphabetically by topic, department, or agency, with alphabetical subfiling by more specific topics. The arrangement of this series parallels the filing order of the executive and legislative correspondence series. Contents of the files are in reverse chronological order. Generally, incoming correspondence precedes office carbon copy of outgoing correspondence.
Description: Eleanor R. Lenhart (ERL), executive secretary to Senator Williams (JJW) throughout his 24 years in office, was responsible for creation and maintenance of this series. The files include the background material for subjects and projects of special interest to the Senator. Ms. Lenhart worked closely with the Senator and was privy to the confidential information in the files. JJW:ERL Subject Files reveal the fact-finding and investigative nature of much of the Senator's work.
File contents of this series reveal the methods by which Senator Williams conducted his investigations. He scrutinized government reports for leads to uncover scandals, received tips from both private citizens and government employees, and developed information through correspondence with investigative journalists. The original files were bulging with charts of figures and reports, many of which were not retained because Senator Williams regularly had pertinent extracts of the reports printed in the Congressional Record.
As with other material in the Williams Papers, the contents of JJW:ERL overlap the subjects of other files and series. Related material may be found in files under a department or agency with cross-jurisdiction in the same series, or in other series such as Committees, Legislative Reference Material, Bills of Legislation, Executive Correspondence, or Legislative Correspondence. Some of the files in the JJW:ERL subject series also complement the Special Investigation Files.
Substantial subseries in the JJW:ERL subject files are Agriculture, Delaware, GAO and GSA reports, and Housing. Among other subseries of interest are Civil Service, Commerce, Defense, Executive Office, Interior, Justice, State, and Treasury. Senator Williams's particular interest in most of these topics was their relation to the welfare of his Delaware constituents and their financial ramifications for the U.S. government.
The Agriculture subseries covers the Commodities Credit Corporation, price support and soil bank programs, abuse of the Department's Disaster Relief Program by wealthy landholders such as Texan Ellsworth King, the Billie Sol Estes grain storage scandal, and information about the poultry industry. Commerce files include information about ship sales, with specific attention to the developments of Greek shipping magnates Niarchos and Onassis, and government contracts for ship constructions. The Defense subseries has material about contracts and government surplus, information generally pursued in response to complaints from citizens about government waste.
The Delaware subseries covers a range of miscellaneous topics. Most interesting are the files documenting the scandal in the State Highway Department which include the "Bove Reports," and the file on Senator Williams's disaster assistance to the state following the March storm of 1962. The 1954 file on "Integration of Schools" is not extensive, but is also of interest.
The Executive Office subseries includes information on executive programs such as stockpiling by the Office of Defense Mobilization and on individuals from each administration. Senator Williams fundamentally distrusted Lyndon Johnson and kept several files on the President's activities. One such file, "Austin Geriatric Center 1969," was compiled to investigate LBJ's suspected abuse of disposal of surplus federal real property.
General Accounting Office and General Services Administration reports were the sources for many of Senator Williams's revelations of government waste. He was quoted in a 1957 American Mercury article as saying "millions and millions of dollars are spent preparing [government reports], but almost nobody reads them. Most of the scandals I've uncovered have been from leads developed from such reports, or from material in the government's own files." The extensive files of the GAO and GSA reports were reduced by retaining only the title covers and summary submission letters of each report. Many of the files include copies of Senator Williams' Senate speeches to which he added extracts from the reports.
The lengthy HUD files include material gathered for a nationwide investigation of the Federal Housing Administration loan programs in the 1960s. Some of the correspondence in these files is with journalist John Barron, author of a 1966 Reader's Digest article titled "The Stench at FHA." The exchange of correspondence illustrates one of several important relationships Williams had with reporters. In some cases, the reporters were valuable sources of information for him as they developed leads for stories which paralleled Senator Williams's investigative work. The FHA files also contain a large amount of correspondence from citizens across the country who, once they heard Senator Williams was investigating the housing loan scandal, knew where to send their complaints and comments.
The Justice Department files include files on court nominations, a Delaware group's participation in the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, and a Senate incident in response to the civil violence at Kent State University. Labor files address the Delaware home industry of holly wreath-making as well as reflect Senator Williams's concern for the ethics of convicted felons leading labor unions.
The State Department files cover Senator Williams's objections to the nominations of Matthew McCloskey and Julius Holmes to ambassadorships, and probe the financial aspects of many Department programs. This subseries includes files on black markets, the 1963 Austrian Grain Scandal, foreign debts, the 1954 Greek war relief, and "kickbacks and payoffs." More financial information, especially on taxation, is found in the Treasury Department files. Several Treasury files of interest cover the taxation of stock under antitrust for GM/Du Pont.