William T. Williams, Jr. Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
William T. Williams, Jr. was born in Angleton, in Brazoria County, Texas on June 3, 1908 to William Thomas Williams and Nannie Borum. Williams’ family moved to Austin in Travis County, Texas in 1917. He attended public schools in Austin, graduating from Austin High School in 1924.
Following graduation, he enrolled at The University of Texas School of Arts and Sciences from June 1924 to June 1926, studying mathematics, physics, economics, banking and accounting. Parts of Williams’ undergraduate studies were also spent on the University Afloat, a New York University study abroad program. Williams attended this program from September 1926 to June 1927, traveling to thirty-four countries by ship during this time, while principally studying mathematics and political science. He interned in the Auditing Division of the State Banking Department that summer and enrolled in the Law School, at the University of Texas at Austin in September 1927, graduating with a LLB in January 1930. During his time at law school, Williams also worked as a city lifeguard, supervising the afternoon and night shifts at Austin’s largest public pool.
Williams earned his law license in March 1930 and spent the next decade practicing law in the private sector alongside his father. He specialized primarily in land titles, and negotiating boundary controversies in private property disputes. He also partnered with the auditor, W.G. Hill, managing and collecting delinquent taxes for four Texas counties.
Following his tenure in the private sector, Williams served as Assistant City Attorney from January 1940 to January 1942. Williams worked directly in the tax department and oversaw all land titles and rights of way obtained by the city.
Williams was called to active duty as an Army Reserves officer in January of 1942 and served until March 1946. He attended Replacement Training and Army Engineer School domestically in 1942 and 1943, gaining skills in map reading, aerial photography reading, army refrigeration expertise, and camouflage. From July 1943 to September 1945, he served as an army refrigeration commanding officer in England and on the Continent of Europe. During his tour of service, Williams also acted as a Trial Judge Advocate and served on the Army Defense Counsel, ultimately prosecuting over one hundred cases in the Third Army General Court in Europe. He earned a Bronze Star Medal for his bravery and commitment to service.
In addition, Williams served in the Army Reserves from March 1945 to September 1965, as well as in the Retired Reserves until July 1968, officially exiting the armed forces as a Colonel.
Williams returned to city employment in March 1946, resuming his position as Assistant City Attorney. From March 1947 to January 1949, Williams served as City Tax Assessor and Collector. In this position, he supervised all assessment and collection activities, conducted reappraisals of existing city properties – managing a staff of seven appraisers, and was chiefly responsible for all city billing, collecting, and accounting services.
In January 1949, he returned to the position of Assistant City Attorney, holding this title until July 1951. In this position he took on additional responsibilities such as preparing ordinances, budgets, and zoning regulations, and acting as a legal advisor to the city’s tax, accounting, purchasing, building inspecting, planning, and utilities departments.
From July 1951 to January 1955, Williams served as Austin’s City Attorney. He oversaw a staff of five assistant attorneys, and played an advisory role to the City Manager, Police Department, Public Works Department, Engineering Department, City Hospital, Utilities, and the City Council. He continued to prepare ordinances and budgetary materials and to work directly in the city’s tax department. He also prosecuted some cases in Corporations Court and developed new personnel policies.
Williams spent the rest of his career in public service as Austin City Manager, acting in this role from January 1955 until his official retirement on July 1, 1967. In this position, Williams spearheaded an annual five-year capital improvements program, prepared budgets, revised city utility rates, and was the key advisory figure in all city financial planning. Furthermore, Williams administered all city operations including firefighting and prevention, building inspection, parks and recreation, sanitation, water, electric, and the library system. During this time, Williams also led the investment committee for the city retirement system of over 3800 employees, and appointed various individuals to positions such as Chief Building Official. As City Manager, Williams prepared credit and bond reports for city housing, gave speeches to civic organizations, and reviewed all applications filed for federal and state aid.
Upon leaving the public sector in 1967, Williams worked for two private land planning and developing companies. Until July 1969, he acted as Executive Vice President of Walter Carrington Enterprises. Williams served as Vice President of Nash Phillips Copus Company from July 1969 until he officially left the workforce in the late seventies.
Williams was involved in many civic, religious and recreational organizations over the course of his life. Williams was a member of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, serving as its Director from 1971-74. He was a former president of the Texas Fine Arts Association, a member of the State Bar of Texas, and a member of the American Judicature Society. Williams was also an Episcopalian senior warden at St. David’s Episcopal Church, and served on the Executive Board of the Diocese of Texas 1972-74. In addition, he was a member of Delta Theta Phi legal fraternity, in which he was principally involved in their educational foundation. He was also a member of the Westwood Country Club and served as one-time President of the North Austin Lions Club.
Williams married Valerie Clotilde Mansbendel in 1933, and they had two children, William Thomas III and Valerie Clotilde (Mrs. Sidney C. Brown). He also had a stepchild, Mrs. Sarah Malone Turner, from another marriage. His wife’s grandfather, Monroe Shipe, was a founding member of the historic Austin neighborhood, Hyde Park – the same community where Williams lived his adult life in Austin. The Williams’ kept their home on Avenue F and 38th Street, in the Shadow Lawn historic district, within steps of the home his wife grew up in – The Peter and Clotilde Shipe Mansbendel home, which was added to the national registry of historic places in 1990. His father-in-law, Peter Mansbendel was a renowned woodcarver and craftsmen, known for his intricate work on the doorway of the UT Main Building, and the portraits of past university presidents in the lobby of the Texas Union Building. Williams was widowed in 1976 and married Helen Steck in 1977. He died July 30th, 1989.
The Williams T. Williams Jr. Papers (1894 - 1980) consist of correspondence, financial records, newspaper clippings, newsletters, meeting minutes, brochures, photographs, greeting cards, and legal briefs documenting Williams’ activities as a longstanding member of various civic, religious, and recreational organizations in Austin. The collection is arranged into three series: professional, civic, and personal.
The Professional series (1894 - 1979) contains materials related to Williams’ employment with the City of Austin and with private land development companies following his retirement from civic employment. Included in this series are financial statements, internal and external correspondence, news clippings, promotional materials, meeting minutes, and plans for proposed land development projects. The series is organized chronologically. A third of the series contains materials related to projects Williams worked on and committees he served during his tenure as City Tax Assessor and Collector. There are also materials from Williams’ time as Assistant City Attorney and as City Attorney. A considerable portion of this series documents Williams’ time as Austin City Manager (1955 - 1967), and includes the correspondence he kept with various members of the Austin community and local news clippings detailing his public contributions and achievements. Also included are photographs from a variety of City of Austin departments, including the Police Department, Fire Department and Light & Power Department. The last third of the series documents Williams’ private land development business affairs following his retirement from civic employment, and includes extended legal briefs Williams authored that were not directly germane to his professional duties, but which were a crucial aspect of his professional life.
The Civic (1948 - 1980) series comprises the bulk of the collection and contains materials related to Williams’ involvement in several volunteer religious and recreational organizations. The series is organized chronologically. Approximately half of this series contains materials related to Williams’ role in religious organizations in Austin, namely St. David’s Episcopal Church in which he served on the Vestry and was instrumental in the construction of a new church building, and the Diocese of Texas, on which Williams served on the Executive Board and was principally involved in navigating polarizing attitudes towards the legalization of abortion. Included is correspondence, financial records, membership related documentation, and building plans. The remaining portion of this series includes materials related to Williams’ membership in the legal fraternal organization Delta Theta Phi, which chiefly document his involvement with their Educational Foundation and items Williams’ acquired through his involvement in the North Austin Civic Club.
The Personal (1915 - 1979) series contains materials pertaining to Williams’ life outside of his professional and civic responsibilities in Austin. This includes materials related to his education, military service, life in the Brazoria County community of Angleton, familial and personal relations, and his membership in neighborhood associations. Included in this series are brochures, deeds of sale, news clippings, meeting minutes, and photographs. The photographs capture social functions Williams attended as a member of the Austin community as well as an album documenting events in his life.
Open to all users
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
These materials were discovered in the attic of Williams’ former home by the proceeding homeowner several years after the creator’s death. The current homeowner contacted Williams’ daughter, Valerie Brown, and followed through with Brown’s wishes that the materials be donated to the Austin History Center. The collection was then donated en masse to the Austin History Center via a deed of gift on January 20th, 2011.
William T. Williams Jr. Papers (AR.2011.009). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2011/007
Donation Date: 1/20/2011
Finding aid created and encoded by Mallorie Sayre and Nicole Feldman in 2013.
Detailed Description of the Collection