Guide to the Edward Thomas Williams Papers, [ca. 1872-1944]

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Guide to the Edward Thomas Williams Papers, [ca. 1872-1944]

Collection number: BANC MSS C-B 977

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
The Bancroft Library staff
Date Completed:
ca. 1965-1966
Encoded by:
James Lake
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Edward Thomas Williams Papers,
Date (inclusive): [ca. 1872-1944]
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 977
Creator: Williams, Edward Thomas, 1854-1944
Extent: Number of containers: 1 box, 9 cartons, 1 volume, 1 oversize folder and 2 rolled items (in 1 package) Number of microfilm reels: 4
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Correspondence; MSS of his writings on China and the Far East; and of an unpublished autobiography; diaries; account books; clippings of articles written by him; personalia; photographs; and scrapbooks, relating primarily to his career in the U.S. diplomatic service in China; as professor of oriental languages, University of California, Berkeley; as advisor on far eastern affairs to the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, 1919; and as a special assistant to Department of State for the Conference on Limitation of Armament, 1921-22. Included also is some material prior to 1896 relating to his ministry in the Disciples of Christ Church in the U.S. and China
Languages Represented: English

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Edward Thomas Williams papers, BANC MSS C-B 977, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Material Cataloged Separately

  • 1 carton of photographs
    Identifier/Call Number: (BANC PIC 1965.011-.020)
    and 1 photograph of San Francisco residences
    Identifier/Call Number: (BANC PIC 1965.001--PIC)
    were transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

Brief Biographical Sketch

Edward Thomas Williams was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1854. In 1875 he graduated from Bethany College and was also ordained in the Disciples of Christ Church. After serving in pastorates at Springfield (Illinois), Denver, Brooklyn, and Cincinnati, he was sent to China in 1887. Here he became intensely interested in the country and began to study the language, history and customs.
In 1896 Williams left the ministry to serve the American goverment in China in a succession of posts of increasing importance and responsibility. For several years he was interpreter to the American Consulate-General at Shanghai, and from 1901 to 1908, Chinese Secretary of the American Legation at Peking. In 1909 while serving as Consul General at Tientsin, he was transferred to Washington to the post of Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs in the Department of State.
Williams returned to China in 1911 as Secretary and Chargé d'Affairs of the American Legation at Peking. As such he was able to observe first-hand the revolutionary movement and to represent the United States government on the occasion of the recognition of the Chinese Republic. Again recalled to Washington, he served as Chief of the Division of Far Easten Affairs in the Department of State from 1914 to 1918. He resigned in 1918 and accepted the position of third Agassiz Professor of Oriental Languages and Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. His academic career was interruped several months later when he went to the Paris Peace Conference as technical advisor on far eastern affairs to the American commission. Again in 1921 he was granted leave to serve as consultant on far eastern questions to the American delegation to the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments.
In the course of his academic career he wrote two books, China Yesterday and Today (1923), and A Short History of China (1928), many articles on China and the far east, and reviews and translations. He was a memeber of numerous societies and received three decorations from the Chinese government. Professor Williams retired in 1927 and died in Berkeley in 1944.

Scope and Content

This collection of papers was a gift to The Bancroft Library from his daughter, Gladys Williams, and son, E. T. Williams, in 1965, with additions in 1966 and 1967. It relates mainly to his career in government service and to his writings. Portraits have been cataloged separately (14911-14924).
A key to arrangements follow.

Key to Arrangement

Box 1

Letters written by Edward Thomas Williams, 1882-1926

Additional Note

Mainly carbon copies, concerning Chinese problems. Arranged chronologically.

Letters written to Williams

Additional Note

Arranged alphabetically by name of writer or organization with a miscellany of single letters at the beginning of the file. A partial list of correspondents follows the key to arrangement.
Ctn. 1

Letterpress copy books


v. 1, 1888-1896. Letters written while missionary to China, stationed at Nanking.


v. 2, 1901-1908. Letters written mainly while Chinese secretary of the American Legation at Peking. Some include reports on disturbances, currency, educational reform, etc.



Additional Note

Includes passports, honors, appointment papers, etc. See also: portfolio





Manuscripts of his writings


Unpublished Recollections


"Richard Trowbridge," unpublished novel


Various essays on China relating to its history, taxation, food, etc.

Ctn. 2

Manuscripts of his writings on politics, social life, customs, folklore, art, religion, education, philosophy, etc. of China, Japan, and the far east; and on the Paris Peace Conference.

Ctn. 3

Reprints of articles.

Additional Note

Relate mainly to history, commerce, politics, religion, and literature of China. A few concern Japanese foreign relations.

Unpublished journal of voyage from San Francisco to Shanghai, 1887.


Diaries, 1893-1924.


v. 1, 1893-1895. Concerns his missionary activities in China.


v. 2, 1908-1923. Includes notes on visits to Chinese industries.


v. 3, 1909.


v. 4, 1911 and 1922.


v. 5, 1912. Concerns political events following the abdication of the Manchus.


v. 6, 1913-1914. Many entries relate to early period of the Chinese Republic.


v. 7, 1918-1919. Concerns his participation in the Paris Peace Conference.


v. 8, 1921-1922. Concerns his participation in the International Conference on the Limitation of Armaments


v. 9, 1924.

Ctn. 4

Album commemorating recognition of the Republic of China by the United States, May 6, 1913.

Additional Note

Photographs, signatures, menus, newspaper clippings, etc. relating to the ceremony of recognition. Included also: lapel pins worn by Williams.

Notebook with English-Chinese vocabulary, kept by Williams.


Guest Book, 1913-1915.


Account books, 1887-1928


v. 1, 1887-1890


v. 2, 1911-1913


v. 3, 1927-1928. Also contains notes and statistics on China, Japan, etc.




P.P.I.E. gold medal of honor, 1915.


Order of Jade, 1936. Awarded by Chinese government


Chia Ho, with jewels, 19[20?] Awarded by Chinese government.

Ctn. 5

Documents published by various department of the U.S. government and by the Chinese government.

Additional Note

Relate mainly to foreign relations, commerce, laws and political events in China, Japan, and the far east.
Ctn. 6

Documents published by various departments of the U.S. government.

Additional Note

Relate mainly to the Paris Peace Conference, 1918-1919, and the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments, 1921-1922
Ctn. 7

U.S. Department of State press releases, circulars, etc., 1898-1937.



Additional Note

China, Shantung, Mongolia, etc.

Newspaper clippings

Additional Note

Relate mainly to China and the Paris Peace Conference. Some concern Williams and his writings.
Ctn. 8

Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, 1921-1922

Additional Note

Concern the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments.
Ctn. 9

Scrapbooks of newspapers clippings, 1880-1937

Additional Note

Relate mainly to the Paris Peace Conference, China and the Williams family.
Ctn. 10

Photographs - transferred to Pictorial Collections, 1978

Additional Note

Mainly Chinese scenes, people, art, etc. and family photographs.
portfolio Portfolio (oversize)

Passports, appointments, membership certificates, awards, academic degrees, two scrolls by Tzu Hsi, and article by Williams (in Silver Jubilee of the Republic of China).

tube Oversize

2 scrolls [rolls]

Partial List of Correspondents


A-Z Miscellany


Alsberg, Carl Lucas, 1877-1940


Letter, May 21, 1934


Anderson, George Everett, 1869-1940


Letter, Nov. 24, 1913


Arnold, Julean Herbert, 1875-


Letter, July 11, 1912


Bliss, Tasker Howard, 1853-1930


Letter, May 1, 1919

Additional Note

Enclosure: Letter (copy) from Bliss to President Wilson, April 29, 1919.

China Commerce Club of California


Letter, Dec. 6, 1918

Additional Note

Copy, signed by Robert Dollar.

Clark, Champ, 1850-1921


Letter, Apr. 6, 1911


Coffee, John Main, 1897-


Letter, May 10, 1939


Colegrove, Kenneth Wallace, 1886-


Letter, Feb. 19, 1929


Dollar, Robert, 1844-1932

see China Commerce Club of California


Fletcher, Henry Prather, 1873-1959


Letter, Aug. 30, 1909


Ford, Guy Stanton, 1873-


Letter, June 1, 1927


Grose, George Richmond, 1869-1953


Letter, Oct. 1, 1924


Hinckley, Frank Erastus, 1871-1950


Letter, Oct. 17, 1934


Johnson, Hiram Warren, 1866-1945


Letter, June 12, 1919


Lineberger, Walter Franklin, 1883-1943


Letter, June 10, 1925


Lobingier, Andrew Stewart, 1862-1939


Letter, Nov. 19, 1928


McClatchy, Valentine Stuart, 1857-1938


Letter, Aug. 2, 1924

Additional Note

Enclosure: Letter (copy) from McClatchy to K. Abiko re Japanese exclusion, July 23, 1924.

McCormick, Frederick, 1870-1951


Letter, Dec. 11, 1928


Patchin, Philip Halsey, 1884-1954


Letter, Oct. 18, 1934


Phillips, William, 1878-


Letter, July 24, 1911


Rowe, Leo Stanton, 1871-1946


Letter, Nov. 3, 1921


Saunders, Kenneth James, 1883-1937


Letter, Aug. 2, 1922


Straight, Willard Dickerman, 1880-1918


Letter, Feb. 25, 1914


Sze, Sao-ke Alfred, 1877-1958


Letter, May 15, 1936


Taft, William Howard, 1857-1930


Letter, June 12, 1915


Thomas, Elbert Duncan, 1883-1953


Letter, May 16, 1936


U.S. Library of Congress


Letter, Dec. 21, 1917

Additional Note

Signed by Herbert Putnam, librarian.

Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924


Letter, Mar. 30, 1915

Additional Note

Written to Sec. of State, William J. Bryan.

Adee, Alvey Augustus, 1842-1924

see U.S. Dept. of State


Bacon, Robert, 1860-1919

see U.S. Dept. of State


Baker, Ray Stannard, 1870-1946


3 letters, 1922


Barrows, David Prescott, 1873-1954


2 letters, 1929-1934


Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925


2 letters, 191[2?]-1915


California. University. President


8 letters, 1918-1941. Written by B. I. Wheeler, R. G. Sproul, and M. E. Deutsch. Enclosure to letter, July 1, 1918: letter to Wheeler from Warren Olney, June 29, 1918.


California. University. Regents


4 letters, 1921-1925. Written by R. G. Sproul and C. J. Struble.


California. University, Berkeley. Library


3 letters, 1928-1929. Written by Harold L. Leupp.


Carr, Wilbur John, 1870-1942

see U.S. Dept. of State


Crowell (Thomas Y.) Company


4 letters, 1927-1934. Concern Williams' book, China Yesterday and Today.


Deutsch, Monroe Emanuel, 1879-1955

see California. University. President


Freemasons. California. Henry Morse Stephens Lodge, no. 541


2 letters, 1933-1940


Greene, Roger Sherman, 1881-1947


2 letters, 1912-1939. Letter dated 1939 written while chairman, American Committee for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression.


Harado, Tasuku, 1863-


2 letters, 1920-1921


Harper and Brothers


4 letters, 1922-1928. Concern Williams book, Short History of China.


Harris, Norman Dwight, 1870-


2 letters, 1924-1927


Hornbeck, Stanley Kuhl, 1883-


3 letters, 1934-1936


Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948

see U.S. Dept. of State


Johnson, Nelson Trusler, 1887-1954


2 letters, 1929-1937


Kerner, Robert Joseph, 1887-1956


2 letters, 1937-1939


Lansing, Robert, 1864-1928

see U.S. American Commission to Negotiate Peace and U.S. Dept. of State


Lessing, Ferdinand Diedrich, 1882-1961


2 letters, 1939


Leupp, Harold Lewis, 1877-1952

see California. University. Berkeley. Library


Lockhart, Frank P., 1881-1949

see U.S. Dept. of State


MacMurray, John Van Antwerp, 1881-


6 letters, 1912-1925


Miller, Ransford Stevens, 1867-1932

see U.S. Dept. of State


Nicolay, Helen, 1866-1954

see Washington, D.C. All Souls Sunday School


Olney, Warren, 1870-1939

see California. University. President


Polk, Frank Lyon, 1871-

see U.S. Dept. of State


Root, Elihu, 1845-1937

see U.S. Dept. of State


Sproul, Robert Gordon, 1891-

see California. University. President and California. University. Regents


Stephens, Henry Morse, 1857-1919


2 letters, 1919


U.S. American Commission to Negotiate Peace


3 letters, 1919. Include letters from Robert Lansing.


U.S. Dept. of State


17 letters, 1907-1937. Written by Elihu Root, Robert Bacon, R. S. Miller, A. A. Adee. W. J. Carr and others.


Washington, D. C. All Souls Sunday School


3 letters, 1919. Letter dated May 11 written by Helen Nicolay.


Willcox, Walter Francis, 1861-


4 letters, 1927


Wilson, Huntington, 1875-

see U.S. Dept. of State


Wittfogel, Karl August, 1896-


3 letters, 1934. With these: Letter dated Aug. 17, 1933 written by M. Winternitz asking help in securing Wittfogel's release from German prison.


Young, Wallace Jesse, 1880-1923

see U.S. Dept. of State