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Williams family papers

Identifier: Mss 1017

Collection Overview

The majority of the collection pertains to two memoirs written by Arthur V. Williams Jr., Tales of Charleston 1930s, and Tales of Clemson 1936-1940. The material includes multiple drafts of both books (including early versions titled Memories 1920-1930 and The Four Years before WW2), related correspondence, documents regarding publication agreements and preparation, and public relations for the books. The collection also contains family correspondence, mainly between Arthur V. Williams Sr., his wife Zerline Levy Williams, and Arthur V. Williams Jr.; photographs of the Williams family, primarily dating from the 1920s through the 1930s, with a smaller number from the 1940s; a small amount of financial records pertaining primarily to Arthur V. William Sr. and the mortgage on the family's home at 11 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston; and a detailed ledger of Arthur V. William Jr.'s monthly expenses from 1956 to 1959. The collection also includes a small number of genealogical files, awards, and U.S. Army documents regarding Arthur V. Williams Jr.'s service.


  • Creation: 1882-2004
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1936-2004


Language of Material

Materials in English

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Arthur V. Williams Sr. (1878-1951) was born in Camden, South Carolina, to Jacob M. and Pauline G. Williams. After his father's death, he began working at an early age to help support his mother and nine siblings. In 1918, he married Zerline Levy (1898-1999) and the couple had two children, Betty and Arthur V. Williams Jr. Throughout his life he was a member of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, in Charleston, South Carolina, serving as secretary and treasurer from 1916 until 1936, when he resigned from that position and became president of the congregation. Arthur was also involved in several local Jewish organizations, including the Hebrew Benevolent Society, for which he served as president, the Hebrew Orphan Society, B'nai B'rith Lodge No. 593, for which he also served as president, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the Anti-Defamation League. Alongside his wife Zerline, he worked as the district manager of the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Massachusetts, for 35 years, until his death in 1951. Zerline went on to work as a life insurance agent with the New Jersey-based Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company for 15 more years before retiring.

Arthur V. Williams Jr. (1919-2007), was born to Arthur and Zerline Levy Williams in Charleston, South Carolina. After graduating from Charleston High School, he attended Clemson University from 1936 to 1940 and went on to graduate from the Medical College of South Carolina (now the Medical University of South Carolina) in 1943. He served in the United States Army as an internist from 1945 to 1947, during which time he met Mary Jane Mendelsohn, whom he married in 1946. After his service in the army, the couple moved to Milwaukee, where Arthur completed his residency at Marquette University School of Medicine, assisting in the design of the Kolff-type artificial kidney.

He then returned to Charleston to practice internal medicine, making significant advances in the field of nephrology. In 1955, he became one of the first American nephrologists to dialyze a human being. In 1966, he joined the faculty at MUSC to head the Hemodialysis Unit, establishing the first dialysis program in South Carolina and founding the MUSC Division of Nephrology, which he served as director from 1970 to 1984. In addition to writing a textbook on nephrology, he published two memoirs, Tales of Charleston 1930s, in 1999, and Tales of Clemson 1936-1940, in 2002.

Betty Williams Gendelman (1921-2007) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Zerline Levy and Arthur Williams. She married Sam Gendelman and the couple had three children: Arthur, Barry, and Paul.


2.75 linear feet (5 document boxes, 1 volume, 1 rolled item)


The majority of the collection consists of materials related to two memoirs written by Arthur V. Williams, Tales of Charleston 1930s, describing his childhood growing up in Charleston in the 1930s, and Tales of Clemson 1936-1940, on his four years at Clemson University prior to World War II. The collection also contains photographs of the Williams family of Charleston, South Carolina, primarily featuring Arthur V. Williams Sr., his wife Zerline Levy Williams, their two children Arthur V. Williams and Betty Gendelman, as well as correspondence and financial records which pertain mainly to Arthur V. Williams Sr. and his wife, Zerline Levy Williams, with a small amount relating to Arthur V. Williams.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Writings, 1997-2004, undated
  2. Correspondence, 1882, 1929-2002, undated
  3. Photographs, 1917-1949, undated
  4. Financial Records, 1935-1959, undated
  5. Biographical materials, 1941-2003, undated

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2002 by Betty Williams Gendelman, and in 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2013 by Mary Williams Ventola.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include an oral history interview with Zerline Levy Williams Richmond, Arthur V. Williams Jr., and Betty Williams Gendelman (Mss 1035-79) and an oral history interview with Arthur V. Williams Jr. and Elza Meyers Alterman (Mss 1035-114).

Processing Information

Processed by Amy Lazarus, June 2015.

Inventory of the Williams Family Papers, 1882-2004
Processed by: Amy Lazarus; machine-readable finding aid created by: Amy Lazarus
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)