Duties reflected in the Legislative Staff/Office Files include committee, legislative, and investigative work. The Constituent Correspondence and Cases subgroup includes materials created in response to the concerns and interests of constituents, and those filed on receipt of issue-related opinions from the general public. The Administrative and Personal Office Files reflect the management of the office and the Senator's personal schedule.
The fourth subgroup, Personal, includes series of files and other formats that document the personal activities and opinions of Senator Williams. The material in these files supplements information about his Senate career in the first three subgroups. There is also material from the 1970s and about Mrs. Williams and Senator Williams's family life.
The original order of the files has been preserved as closely as possible in the processing of this collection. For the most part, the arrangement of the collection reflects the original filing series of Senator Williams's office. The series have been presented in this collection in four artificial subgroups; the purpose of the subgroups is to provide thematic structure to the collection. As described in the scope note, three of the subgroups of series reflect congressional functions and the fourth subgroup of series concerns more personal aspects of the Senator's career.
The order of files within most series generally follows office alphabetical subject sequences, but some series are arranged with other appropriate sequences such as alphabetical by state or chronological. Two significant chronological series are Bills of Legislation and Speeches. The most common filing sequence, alphabetical by subject, department, or agency is used in three key series: JJW:ERL Subject files, Executive Correspondence, and Legislative Correspondence. Finding specific topics in the files requires a certain amount of creativity on the part of the researcher. Material related to any one topic may be found in several places according to use of the information, jurisdiction of an agency or department over certain aspects of a topic, the history of agency or department name changes, or the filing practices of different office staff members.
For example, information about "poultry," an issue of primary concern to many of Senator Williams's constituents, may be found in all of the following areas:
To plan a search strategy for a specific topic, researchers may also want to consult the "Correspondence Management System (CMS) Topic/Subtopic Listing" appendix in Karen Paul's Records Management Handbook for United States Senator and their Repositories. CMS is an automated office management system which came into use much later than Senator Williams's tenure in office, but the CMS topics are similar to ones used in the past. The topic listing does not include all of the subjects, departments, and agencies found in the series in the Williams papers, but the CMS list is a very useful guide to the topical jurisdiction of government bureaucracy.
Some of the series, especially those in the subgroup of Personal files, had no significant original order. The contents of these series have been arranged either topically, chronologically, or by format as explained in the descriptions which precede each series list in this finding aid.
The usual filing practice in the office was to place contents of folders in reverse chronological order, i.e. latest correspondence was filed in the front of the folder. Similarly, the order of folders in the files (when there were annual folders for a certain topic) is also in reverse chronological order, i.e. the folder from the latest year is filed before earlier years: 1970, 1969, 1968, etc. Exceptions to the reverse chronological order of files and folder contents are described in arrangement notes in each series description.
Headings on the actual file folders reflect the hierarchical office filing system and each folder includes the entire heading, for example:
Box Contents LEGISLATIVE STAFF/OFFICE FILES JJW:ERL SUBJECT FILES 1 Agriculture Commodities Credit Corporation (CCC) Grain Storage, 1949  Poultry, 1953  Cotton Prices, 1965 
The series lists also include box and folder numbers. Folder numbers follow the unique entries on the list and are enclosed in brackets. Folder numbers begin a new sequence with each new series. A series description precedes each series contents list and includes dates of the series, extent of the series, statement of contents, arrangement note, and description. The series description should be read before consulting the contents list.
As with many voluminous congressional collections, sampling techniques were also used in processing the Williams Papers. Only representative samples of the contents of some files were saved, particularly in series in the Constituent Correspondence and Cases subgroup. Senator Williams often received large quantities of single-issue mail (such as 300 letters, each unique but all expressing opposition to the president's invasion of Cambodia) or multiple copies of form letters from constituents (such as 200 printed postcards supporting a proposed social security bill). In response, Senator Williams sent a form letter to all constituents. The form letter, know as a "robo" or "dura," expressed the Senator's point of view in general terms appropriate for a large number of correspondents.
The volume of the constituent correspondence series was substantially reduced by sampling. The original extent of each file was recorded before a sample was made, and this record was retained in the front of each file. Generally, twenty percent of the correspondence was saved in the case of large volume, single- issue mail. In the case of petitions, constituent form letters, or multiple copies of the same postal cards, a count of the constituent mail received was recorded and saved with a copy of the correspondence and a copy of the Senator's robo response.