Special Collections Department
William John Williams
1876 - 1923
(bulk dates 1876-1896)
Manuscript Collection Number: 422
Accessioned: Purchased, 1999
Extent: .7 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, copybooks, letterpress books, science notebooks, blueprints, patent documents, diagrams, printed scientific documents, chemistry manuscripts, booklets, playscripts, notes
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Ryan K. Thompson, August 2001
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
William John Williams, an analytical chemist who immigrated to the United States in 1885 from Abergele, North Wales in Great Britain, worked in a number of manufacturing fields, including fertilizers, soaps, bleaches, brickmaking, and sewage and water treatment. A tremendous amount of his work was with phosphates, reflected in this collection by the substantial amount of notes and correspondence about various chemical processes involving phosphates.
In 1876, he worked for the Phosphate Sewage Company of London. By 1883, he worked in the Redonda Phosphate department of Sadler, Forbes, Abbott & Co. In 1885, he left Great Britain to begin work at the Keystone Chemical Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By 1892, he began work for Walton & Whann, a fertilizer company in Wilmington, Delaware. Four years later, he joined the Weidman Silk Dyeing Company of Paterson, New Jersey. He corresponded with a variety of chemists and companies, and occasionally performed experiments and ran tests for them, such as those he conducted for the Atlanta and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company of Florida.
Historical and biographical information obtained from the collection.
The William John Williams Papers, 1876-1923, consists of .7 linear feet of correspondence, copybooks, letterpress books, science notebooks, blueprints, patent documents, scientific documents, chemistry manuscripts, booklets, playscripts, advertisements, circulars, and notes. The bulk of the collection is dated between 1876-1896, with the exception of two letters, dated 1911 and 1923, which are found in Folder 1. The collection provides a glimpse of the family, personal, and professional life of a British chemist who immigrated to the United States in the late nineteenth century.
Three series comprise the collection: I. Correspondence, II. Professional Papers, and III. Personal Papers. Correspondence and professional papers in the collection indicate that Williams found and pursued numerous occupational opportunities within the dynamic fields of chemistry and manufacturing found in Philadelphia and the greater Delaware Valley in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The correspondence series consists of ten folders and 132 letters. Folders 1, 2, and 3 contain references to a disagreement between Williams' sisters and Henry Tanner in Great Britain over a disputed investment made by Tanner. Folders 4 and 5 relate to various property settlements for which Williams was responsible. Folder 6 includes information and advice related to Williams' search for employment. In Folder 7 is a large letterpress book containing copies of correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues from 1883 to 1885 in addition to the 132 letters mentioned above. The letterpress book also contains copies of reports, analyses, and balance sheets from Williams' professional work as a chemist. Folder 8 contains correspondence to Williams while he lived and worked in Great Britain. Mail that Williams received while he worked and lived in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, is found in Folder 9. Several envelopes in Folder 10 contain scientific notes and calculations made on their backs, as well as letters to Williams after he began work in Wilmington, Delaware.
Williams' professional papers comprise twelve folders. His papers have been divided into patents, scientific papers, balance sheets, analyses and reports, process descriptions, scientific notes, blueprints, and business papers. His papers included a number of British patents, including one of his own, and a number of scientific papers which were either published or presented at meetings. Balance sheets were cost and profit estimates for different chemical processes. Numerous reports of the results of different chemical processes, as well as descriptions of the process followed, are included. Assorted scientific notes, two blueprints for parts of a calcination machine, and various business receipts and advertisements round out the series. In addition to the material found in this series, the letterpress book found in folder 8 of the first series contains various reports, analyses, and balance sheets from Williams' professional work as a chemist from 1883 to 1885.
The final series of personal papers contains two folders. Two poems, a cantata, a description of a Japanese wedding, and excerpts from between five and eight plays (three of the items may be different acts from the same play) make up the last series. The several playscripts included in the collection suggest the possibility that Williams participated in various amateur theatrical productions.
Box -- Folder -- Contents
Series I. Correspondence, 1876-1896, 1911, 1923 F1 Family Correspondence, 1882-1892, 1911, 1923 (17 items) (organized by author and unless otherwise noted, are to Williams) --investment problems Bessie Williams Bessie Williams to Henry Tanner, 1882 (1 item) Bessie Williams to Wm. Williams, 1882 (4 items) Maggie Williams, 1882-1885 (4 items) Annie Griffith, 1885 (4 items) Mollie Williams, 1892 (2 items) L. Koppe to Ms. Mayer, 1911 (1 item) Alice, 1923 (1 item) F2 Personal Correspondence, 1881-1882, 1885, n. d. (14 items) William Williams to Thomas Jameson, 1881 (3 items) William Williams to T. Howes Roberts, 1882 (2 items) William Williams to Shirley, Atkinson & Shirley, 1882 (3 items) William Williams to Henry Tanner, 1882 (1 item) William Williams to Bessie Williams, 1882 (1 item) William Williams to Maggie Williams, 1882 (1 item) William Williams to Richard Morris, 1885 (1 item) William Williams to Pickford & Winkfield, 1885 (1 item) William Williams to Annie Griffith, n. d. (1 item) William Williams to Unknown Correspondent, n. d. (1 item) F3 Personal Correspondence, 1876-1882 (15 items) Henry Tanner to Bessie Williams, 1876-1882 (6 items) Henry Tanner to Wm. Williams, 1876-1882 (9 items) F4 Personal Correspondence, 1880-1884 (17 items) --land settlement in Wales W. E. Shirley, 1880-1884 (16 items) Amy Sugdeu, 1884 (1 item) F5 Personal Correspondence, 1882-1885 (12 items) --selling property and settling insurance policy T. Howes Roberts, 1882 (2 items) John Tatlock, Solicitor, Sheriff’s Office, 1882 (9 items) [Eold, Edwards & Weston?] 1885 (1 item) Series I. Correspondence (cont.) F6 Personal Correspondence, 1885 (13 items) --looking for work? Richard Morris to Shirley, 1885 (1 item) W. E. Shirley to John Bennett, 1885 (1 item) W. E. Shirley, 1885 (11 items) F7 Letterpress book, 1883-1885 9 X 13 ½ inch 500 page notebook with green cover and brown bindings. Contains index with about 390 entries cataloging various letters to friends, families, and colleagues, as well as numerous reports, analyses, and balance sheets. F8 Professional Correspondence, 1876-1885 (15 items) --while Williams worked in Great Britain Alum & Ammonia Co. Ltd., 1876 (1 item) A. G. Hunter, 1876 (2 items) Phosphate Sewage Co. Ltd., 1876 (2 items) Thomas Jameson, 1881 (2 items) Auguste Arnu to Forbes & Abbott, 1882 (1 item) T. Howes Roberts, 1882 (1 item) H. Thorne to S. J. Musson, 1883 (1 item) Bernard Dyer, 1884 (1 item) Crossley Brothers Limited, 1885 (1 item) T. E. Vasey, 1885 (1 item) Pickford & Winkfield, 1885 (2 items) F9 Professional Correspondence, 1885-1891 (14 items) --Williams had moved to Philadelphia, PA and then Camden, NJ T. E. Vasey, 1885 (3 items) Examiner of Patents, 1886 (2 items) Pickford & Winkfield, 1886?, 1889 (3 items) George Hughes, Analytical Laboratory, 1888? (1 item) Philip M. Justice, British Foreign & Colonial Patent Agent, 1888 (1 item) Walter S. Pierce, International Phosphate Company 1889 (1 item) Thomas Newsome, Edward E. Rice & Co., 1890 (1 item) Franklin Institute 1891 (1 item) W. E. Wadman, The Hygenic Chemical Co., 1891 (1 item) F10 Professional Correspondence, 1892-1896 (15 items) --Williams moved to Wilmington, DE J. J. Dunne, The Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company of Florida, 1892-1893 (4 items) W. J. Leddell, 1893 (2 items) Series I. Correspondence (cont.) F10 H. Pemberton, Jr., 1893 (1 item) Queen & Co., 1893 (1 item) contains scientific notes and calculations on reverse side Walton & Whann Co., 1893 (1 item) contains scientific notes and calculations on reverse side World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893 (1 item) contains scientific notes and calculations on reverse side Walter S. Pierce, 1894 (1 item) George Linder, Electro Chemical Co., 1895 (2 items) W. E. Wadman, The Hygenic Chemical Co., 1895 (1 item) Charles Ross & Sons, 1896 (1 item) Series II. Professional Papers F11 British Patents, 1876, 1880 William John Williams, Manufacture of Phosphates, 1876 William Arthur Hills, Production of Tri-Calcic and Di-Calcic Phosphates, 1880 (3 copies) Charles Humfrey, Decomposition of Certain Salts of Soda and Potash, 1880 (3 copies) F12 Scientific Papers, 1877-1885, n. d. (5 items) Article A New Process for the Production of Carbonate and Caustic Soda…, George E. Davis, 1877 On the Judicious Use of Manures, paper read to Chester Farmers’ Club Jan. 2, 1882 by Williams Article On the Estimation of Potash, Thomas S. Gladding, 1885 Article Apparatus for the Absolute Determination of Nitrogen, Thomas S. Gladding, n. d., with inscription Fertilization of the Ground with the Help of the Products of Technical Industries, n. d. F13 Scientific Papers, n. d., Field Experiments, John Hills, n. d. (7 items) F14 Scientific Papers, n. d., Field Experiments, John Hills, n. d. (preservation copy) F15 Balance Sheets, 1878-1882 (11 items) --Balance sheets contain an analysis of the costs and profits for producing certain products Balance sheet for making soap, W. Williams, 1878 Balance sheet for plant and working A. N., 1878 Balance sheet for making tri-sodic phosphate, D. P., and sulphate aluminum, 1880 Series II. Professional Papers (cont.) F15 Balance sheet for making sulphate of aluminum, 1880 Corrected estimate of making di-calcic phosphate and alumina, 1881 Balance sheet for making dicalcic phosphate and alumina, 1881 Balance sheet for working Redonda, W. Williams, 1882 Balance sheet for working Redonda, 1882 Balance sheet for working Redonda, 1882 Cost of making di-calcic phosphate by carbonate of soda, W. Williams, 1883 Data for condensing plant, 1891 F16 Balance Sheets, n. d. (10 items) Balance sheet for making C.M.S., PPSO Phosphate and soda, n. d. Balance sheet for experimental plant Balance sheet for making mineral soap, n. d. Balance sheet for making Prsc. Phos. and NaHO, n. d. Balance sheet on “reverted” and “soluble”, n. d. Balance sheet for making soap, n. d. Balance sheet for making Soda Aluminate, n. d. Balance sheet for making Sulphate of alumina…, W. Williams, n. d. Balance sheet for making tri-sodic phosphate comparing salt cakes and salt processes, n. d. Balance sheet for making tri-sodic phosphate, tri- calcic phosphate, alumina, and cost of plant, n. d. F17 Analyses and Reports, 1880-1883, n. d. (15 items) Analysis of Redonda Sludge, W. Williams, 1880 Analyses of four samples of soil, W. Williams, 1881 Analysis of Alk Vela Phosphate, 1883 Analysis of fertilizer, n. d. Report on Final Specification of Utilization of Alkali Waste…, William A. Hills, 1880 Report on Final Specification of Utilization of Alkali Waste…, William A. Hills, 1880 Report on Alka Vela Phosphate, W. Williams, 1881 Report of Quantities of Soda salts required to decompose Redonda Phosphate, W. Williams, 1884 Report of Experiments in Redonda Phosphate, W. Williams, 1884 Report on Tri-Sodium Phosphate as a water purifier…, Franklin Institute, 1891 Test results for T.S.P. doses, 1892 Comments on the Determination of Phosphoric Acid…, 1893 Report on Experiments on Redonda Phosphate, n. d. Report on Mixture of Acid Phosphate with Keystone Reverted, n. d. Report on Weston Iron Works, n. d. Series II. Professional Papers (cont.) F18 Process Descriptions, 1880-1893, n. d. (9 items) Process description of Treatment and Manufacture of Phosphates, 1880 Process description for Treatment and Manufacture of Phosphates, W. Williams,  Process description of “Hunts Liquor”, 1884 Process description of Loss of Phosphate as Dust, 1887 Process description of Salt Cake Cylinder Process, 1891 Process description for making salt cake, pan, and roaster, 1891 Process description of homemade celluloid, 1893 Description of Application of Sulphurous Acid Gas, n. d. Process description of Boiler Compound, William D. Marks, n. d. F19 Scientific notes (7 items) Calculations Notes on Acid Phosphate Notes on French-English weights and measures Notes of Metric-English Conversions Notes on Potassium Ferrate Notes on Waste Plant Printer’s Triphosa. 2 ½ X 5 ½ inch 48 pg. notebook. Contains 31 pages of chemical equations, formulas and notes. F20 Scientific Notebook 8 X 12 ½ inch tan and blue-green 90 page notebook. An index provides 21 entries for the various notes which fill about 60 pages. F21 Blueprints (2 items) (both blueprints have been removed to an oversize box) Blueprint for Platform of Roof over Calciner to Carry 50 Tons, C. Humfrey Jr., 1884 (25 X 29 inches) Blueprint for Cupola for Calcining, C. Humfrey Jr., 1884 (20 X 29 inches) F22 Business Advertisements, Announcements, Circulars & Receipts (6 items) Receipt for machinery shipped to J. J. Dunne, Philadelphia, 1886 Announcement of meeting for shareholders of Keystone Chemical Co., 1887 Prospectus announcing sale of stock in Walton & Whann Company, 1892 (preservation copy in folder, original copy in oversize box) Receipt for Insurance from Provident Mutual Accident Company, 1893 Advertisement for Improved Fertilizer Mixing Machine, C. H. Dempwolf & Co., n. d. Circular for Keystone Concentrated Phosphate, Heller, Hirsh & Co., n. d. Series II. Professional Papers (cont.) F22 Receipt for flower seeds, 1933 (removed from collection and placed in processing folder) Series III. Personal Papers F23 Personal papers --where possible, a play’s title has been used, otherwise the first line has been included Belle – I’m much too, pp. 1-19. children, only, pp. 3-7. Ceremony of Japanese Wedding, 5 pgs. The Dairymaids’ Supper, cover and title page. The Famine, W. H. Longfellow, pp. 1-21. Fred – (sings), pp. 1-8 Fred Somers – John Dix., pp. 1-5. Posture Exercises, 5 pgs. Poem To Helen, 1 pg. Programme, pp. 1-16. F24 Notebooks of Playscripts A Spring Time—Rosin Back— 5 ½ X 8 ½ inch 40 pg. notebook with brown covers. Contains 17 pages of lines and stage directions. Fairy Scenes from the Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare. 3 ¼ X 8 inch 88 pg. notebook. Contains 58 pages of lines from the play. Who is Who? 3 ¼ X 8 inch 22 pg. notebook. Contains 14 pages of lines from the play.