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Guide to the William J. and Leslie Sands Williams Papers, 1930s-1990s

Summary

Dr. William J. Williams and his wife, Irene Leslie Sands Williams, a nurse, were Southern Baptist medical missionaries stationed at Ogbomosho Baptist Hospital, Nigeria from 1944 through 1984. The couple also worked in Gaza and Kurdistan, and were active in several Baptist churches in the United States. This collection contains their diaries, photographs, correspondence, and other items documenting their work and family life as Christians, medical personnel, and educators.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11658
Title
William J. and Leslie Sands Williams Papers
Date
1930s-1990s
Creator
Williams, William Jackson, Dr., 1914-2008
Extent
10 Linear Feet
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

The collection consists of personal diaries, correspondence, and photographs largely dating from the couple's service in Nigeria from the 1940s-1980s.

The Diaries series contains diaries from both Bill and Leslie; each reflects their personal style of journaling. The William J. Williams subseries contains small datebooks, usually featuring regular entries about his and Leslie's daily movements or activities. Leslie Williams' subseries contains diaries that vary in length and size; for a period of time in the 1940s and 1950s, she used her diary as a sort of scrapbook, which meant volumes arrived with all kinds of letters, clippings, and ephemera tucked in the pages. Because these presented preservation challenges to the volume, and likely difficulty for use in the reading room, archivists separately foldered the inlaid items but attempted to record where in the volume they originated. Thus researchers looking to reconstruct Leslie's correspondence should also check the Diaries series, which includes letters along with other items that she saved in her diaries.

The Correspondence series arrangement largely reflects how the materials were transferred to Rubenstein. The bulk of the letters are from Leslie to friends and family, including Jereen Rugis (her college roommate), May Bernhart, and other stateside friends and family. There are also pockets of correspondence from Bill to Leslie, both dating from the 1930s while each was in school, and from 1976, during a furlough. Other correspondence is more formal, including administrative letters from the Foreign Missions Board regarding their appointments and salaries.

The Photographs series contains albums, slides, prints, and negatives, some captioned but largely uncaptioned. Images date from the 1940s through the 1980s. The bulk of the iamges are from Nigeria, including photographs of Bill, Leslie, and their children; medical care for patients in Ogbomosho, Eku, and various villages and leper colonies; education of student nurses and church services in Nigeria; and photographs of plants and other Nigeria street scenes. Other photographs document their travels to Gaza, El Salvador, Honduras, Gaza, and Kurdistan, as well as their visits to the United States (including images in Texas, Oklahoma, and Detroit).

The Medical Missionary series contains assorted items from Bill and Leslie's theological and medical education in the United States, as well as materials from their appointment as missionaries in Nigeria. The series contains assorted newsletters and administrative materials from the Baptist Mission and other churches that supported their work; travel documents such as passports and shipping logs; their personal banking and cash accounts from the operation of the hospital; two Bibles used by Bill and Leslie; and other ephemeral materials from their missionary careers.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Arrangement

This collection is organized into series: Diaries, Photographs, Correspondence and Personal, and Medical Missionary Training and Service.

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Access to Collection

Collection is open for research; access requires at least 24 hours advance notice.

How to Cite

[Identification of item], William J. and Leslie Sands Williams Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Diary, 1954
Box 1
Diary, 1955
(2 volumes)
Box 1
Diary, 1956
Box 1
Diary, 1957
Box 1
Diary, 1958
(2 volumes)
Box 1
Diary, 1959
(2 volumes)
Box 1
Diary, 1960
Box 1
Diary, 1961
Box 1
Diary, 1962
Box 1
Diary, 1963
Box 1
Diary, 1967
Box 1
Diary, 1976
Box 1
Diary, 1977
Box 1
Diary, 1978
Box 1
Diary, 1979
Box 1
Diary, 1980
Box 1
Diary, 1981
Box 1
Diary, 1982
Box 1
Diary, 1983
Box 1
Diary, 1984
Box 1
Diary, 1985
Box 1
Diary, 1986
Box 1
Diary, 1987
Box 1
Diary, 1988
Box 1
Diary, 1989
Box 1
Diary, 1990
Box 2
Diary, 1993
Box 2
Diary, 1994
Box 2
Diary, 1995
Box 2
Diary, 1996
Box 2
Diary, 1997
Box 2
Diary, 1998
Box 2
Diary, 1999
Box 2
Diary, 2000
Box 2
Diary, 2001
Box 2
Diary, 2002
Box 2
Diary, 2003
Box 2
Diary, 2004
Box 2
Diary, 2005
Box 2
Diary, 2006
Box 2
Diary, 2007
Box 2
Diary, 1936-1940
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 3
Diary, 1941
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 3
Diary, 1942
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 3
Diary, 1944
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 3
Diary, 1945
Box 2
Diary, 1946
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 3
Diary, 1947
Box 2
Diary, 1948
Box 2
Diary, 1949
Box 2
Diary, 1949-1952
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 3
Appointment book and address book, 1950s
(2 volumes)
Box 4
Diary, 1951
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 4
Diary, 1953
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 4
Diary, 1956
Box 2
Diary, 1957
Box 2
Diary, 1959
Box 2
Diary, 1960
Box 2
Diary, 1961
(2 volumes)
Box 2
Diary, 1962
Box 2
Diary, 1964-1968
(2 folders)

1 bound volume; 1 folder of inlaid materials.

Box 4
Diary, 1974
Box 5
Diary, 1976
Box 5
Bound notebook, 1982-1983

Notebook with diary entries and notes re: Gaza, Israel, Middle East

Box 4
Spiral notebook, 1984

Notebook with diary entries and notes re: China

Box 4
Diary, 1984-1985
Box 5
Diary, 1987-1988
Box 5
Diary, 1989
Box 5
Diary, 1994
Box 5
William J. Williams' clinical pathology notebook, 1936

From studies at University of Alabama

Box 6
Leprosy for Students of Medicine, 1973

Williams' copy, with notations

Box 6
Leslie Sands' Holy Bible, 1929
Box 6
Missionary travels and lodging log, 1983

Includes family genealogy; notes about departures and arrivals in the U.S.; floorplan of Nigerian house

Box 6
William J. Williams' physiological chemistry notebook, 1936

From studies at University of Alabama

Box 6
"Mission Morsels" Nigerian newsletter, 1964-1976

Scattered issues

Box 6
Nursing schools, U.S., 1940s, 1990

Baylor University programs, certificates; Norwood Hospital School of Nursing newsletters

Box 6
Assorted printed documents, Nigeria, 1960s-1980s

Collected catalogs, handouts, and a newspaper from Nigerian Independence Day (1976)

Box 6
Theological and medical education and studies, Nigeria, 1940s-1980s

Collected pamphlets, programs, newsletters, and meeting minutes from the Williams' work in Eku, Ogbomosho, Benin, and other Nigerian locations

Box 6
Assorted church newsletters, U.S., 1930s-1960s

Sermon transcripts, programs, newsletters, and other magazines

Box 6
Cash ledger, 1941-1950

Account book of expenses and withdrawals during missionary service

Box 6
Bank statements, receipts from Bank of British West Africa Ltd., 1946-1951
Box 6
"Loads": inventory lists for shipments, 1948, 1952-1953

Packing lists and cargo inventories for family's travel to and from Nigeria

Box 6
News clippings re: family and friends, 1930s-1960s
Box 6
News clippings re: Williams', 1930s-1970s
Box 6
Middle East and Arabic culture notes, catalogs, 1960s
Box 6
Vaccination certificates, 1959-1987
Box 6
Irene Leslie Williams passports, 1944-1982
Box 6
William J. Williams passports, 1944-1982
Box 6
Leslie Williams' drivers licenses, 1958, 1981
Box 6
William J. Williams' drivers license, 1958
Box 6
William J. Williams' New Testament in Four Versions volume, 1966
Box 8
Baylor University alumna certificate for Leslie, 1990
Box 6
Shawnee High School materials, 1931, 1991

Reunion class photograph; 1931 commencement program

Box 6
Oversize-folder 1
"Personal letters", 1936-1940
(2 folders)

Largely Bill to Leslie while he was attending medical school at University of Alabama

Box 6
Foreign Mission Board, 1937-1976
Box 6
American Baptist Mission, 1945-1946

Financial correspondence

Box 6
William J. Williams' selective service, 1939-1953
Box 6
Sands and Williams' letters with Bill and Leslie (family correspondence), 1930s-1970s
Box 6
Letters directed to Leslie, 1940

Originally tucked inside the 1940 diary

Box 6
Leslie Williams to "home", 1942-1965

Form letters and personal letters (largely written to Jereen Rugis) originally saved by Leslie in a binder

Box 6
Leslie Williams outgoing letters to May Bernhart, 1945-1986
Box 6
Leslie Williams outgoing letters to Jereen and Eddie Rugis, 1940s-1980s, 1999
Box 6
Leslie Williams outgoing letters to Myrtle Brown, 1950s-1960s
Box 6
Leslie Williams outgoing letters, recipients unknown/unidentified, 1940s-1980s
Box 6
Bill Williams to Leslie Williams, 1976

Written from Nigeria to U.S.

Box 6
Miscellaneous notes and cards, 1940s-1970s
Box 6
Incoming "Missionary letters", 1970s-1980s
(2 folders)

Sent to the Williams' from other missionaries or church contacts

Box 6
Incoming "Nigerian Baptist Mission" letters, 1990s

Sent to the Williams' following their retirement

Box 6
Napkins, 1967

3 disposable paper napkins: 1 says "Bienvenidos Amigos!" and 2 are "Mapkins" of Africa dating from 1967, featuring images of Africans as well as a detailed map of the continent and its countries. Both styles published by The Wright Studio, Indianapolis.

Box 7
Photograph album from ceremonial send-off of the Williams, approximately 1982

Undated photograph album with captions documenting an event at the Nigerian Baptist Mission sending off the Williams', either on sabbatical or for retirement, approximately 1970s or 1980s.

Box 7
Photograph album, 1970s

Undated photograph album with assorted prints of the Williams, Nigerian missionary friends and students, other missionaries, and some travel photographs. Captions included, as well as inlaid loose pages at the back of the album, dating from 1970s.

Box 7
Slides: Family slide box, 1950s-1970s
(2 folders)

Sleeved by topic or location, as assigned by the family. Includes Nigeria, leper colonies, family photographs, England vacation, and others.

Box 4
Slides: Leslie's slide carousel, 1950s-1980s

Nigeria, including leper colony; plant life; Eku; Ogbomosho

Box 4
Slides: Bill's slide carousel, 1950s-1970s

Nigeria

Box 4
Slides: "Eku", 1987
Box 4
Slides: "Nigeria II", 1950s-1980s
Box 4
Slides: "Iraq" slide carousel, 1980s
Box 4
Slides: China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, 1984 July
Box 4
Slides: commercially produced souvenir slide sets from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, 1980s
Box 4
Slides: untitled, unsorted, 1970s-1980s

Personal and travels

Box 4
Slides: "Oklahoma Baptist University, Ft. Worth, etc.", 1950s

Includes China, other untitled

Box 4
Slides: untitled slide box, 1950s-1980s

Includes Nigeria, mission work, Middle East, other travels

Box 4
Slides: "Family and personal", 1950s-1980s
Box 4
Slides: "Honduras, El Salvador", 1985
Box 4
Slides: untitled slide box, 1950s-1960s

Includes family, children, Nigeria

Box 4
Slides: untitled slide carousel, 1950s-1980s

Includes Central America, Nigeria

Box 4
Prints, unsorted, 1930s-1980s

Includes Nigeria, medical mission, churches and family life, friends, travels; snapshots and posed portraits

Box 8
Portrait of Leslie with Nigerian student nurses, 1950s

Mounted with caption: "With Remembrance of our Kind-Hearted Mother: the Matron of Ogbomosho Nursing School-Ogbomosho, from Ukueku and Broodrick - Student Nurses"

Box 8
Prints: Kurdistan, approximately 1980s

Uncaptioned snapshots

Box 8
Negatives: Nigeria, 1962
(2 folders)

120 mm negatives

Box 8
 

Historical Note

Irene Leslie Sands Williams (Dec. 12, 1913-Dec. 19, 2004) was born near Shawnee, Oklahoma, attended Shawnee High School, and then graduated from Oklahomoa Baptist University in 1935. William J. Williams (Apr. 24, 1914-Feb. 16, 2008) was born in Columbus, Georgia, and attended high school in Birmingham, Alabama, and then graduated from Howard College (now Samford University). The couple met while studying at Southwestern Baptist University in Ft. Worth, Texas; Leslie earned an MRE and Bill earned a degree in theology. They then went to Waco, Texas to attend Baylor University (he graduated from medical school and she graduated as an RN). Leslie and Bill married on Aug. 13, 1940.

The couple worked at Southern Baptist Hospital (New Orleans) and at Norwood Hospital (Birmingham, AL) before being appointed missionaries by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1944. Although they initially hoped to be placed in China, the ongoing World War II and the urgent need in Nigeria led to them being appointed as medical missionaries to Ogbomosho Baptist Hospital. Leslie led the student nursing program while Bill ran the hospital; both traveled and treated patients throughout Nigeria, including frequent circuits to leper colonies and to villages in the north. Their missionary appointments consisted of three years onsite, followed by one year of furlough; they did this for over 25 years before formal retirement. They also served as medical personnel in Gaza for several months, returned to Nigeria in 1983, and Bill traveled in Kurdistan and Khazakstan as a field doctor in the late 1980s. Eventually the couple returned to Oklahoma.

The couple had two sons, William Carey Williams (called Bill Carey in the papers) and Gary Lynn Williams.


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Provenance

The William J. and Leslie Sands Williams Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2018.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, Aug. 2018. Accessions described in this collection guide: 2018-0092.