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Dick Williams papers

Call Number: RH MS 6


This collection highlights the personal life of Dick Williams, a Concordia, Kansas native and a long-time resident of Lawrence, Kansas. This collection includes personal correspondence and some financial and business records and correspondence from some of Williams' business ventures.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1918-1957 ( 1928-1952)


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Dick Williams (1892-1970)

Russell "Dick" Williams was born May 7, 1892 in Concordia, Cloud County, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas (KU) in 1915 and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He went to work at the Watkins National Bank of Lawrence as a bookkeeper in 1915, then served in World War I. After the war, he returned to work at the bank while attending KU to earn a law degree. Starting in 1925, Williams served as executive vice president at Watkins National Bank until its merger with the Lawrence National Bank in 1927. He was instrumental in establishing the Douglas County State Bank, serving as president until his death in 1970.

Williams married Mary Gossard in 1918 in Oswego, Labette County, Kansas, while on leave from service, where Gossard was from. He was a sergeant in the ordnance department, stationed at Camp Johnston, Jacksonville, Florida during the war.

In 1921, after the death of his employer, J. B. Watkins, financial businessman and owner of the Watkins National Bank of Lawrence, Williams became the personal and financial manager of Watkins' widow, Elizabeth Miller Watkins. Williams was instrumental in arranging many of her benefactions to KU and to the city of Lawrence.

Williams and his sons, Skipper and Odd, managed 30,000 acres of southwest Kansas farmland bequeathed to the KU Endowment Association by Elizabeth Watkins. Dick Williams was known for his support in theLawrence community, serving on several board and executive committees, and investing in farm land. He was active in the fraternities at KU and was an avid trap shooter (the sport of using a shotgun to shoot clay disks sprung from a trap).

Dick Williams died June 22, 1970.

[Information taken from the collection and newspaper articles published in the Lawrence Daily Journal-World, June 25, 1918, and Lawrence Journal-World, June 22, 1970.]


10.25 linear foot (19 boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection contains Williams' personal correspondence with his family and Mary Gossard Williams' family, mostly in Kansas. Also contains correspondence concerning Williams' private businesses and investments in Kansas and other states, including farm investments with his sons.

Correspondence of his work with the fraternities at KU, especially Sigma Nu, is included, as well as with his work with gun clubs in Lawrence.

The photographs include homes and family in Kansas, mostly in Oswego, Labette County. Some photographs pulled from correspondence include portraits from World War I.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was salvaged in 1942 at the same time as RH MS 1, the J.B. Watkins Collection. Dick Williams deposited additional records in 1961. Additional material may have been contributed by the Kansas State Historical Society and the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum in 1983.

Separated Materials

For Dick Williams' business papers, see J.B. Watkins papers, RH MS 1, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Processing Information

In 2020, Spencer Library staff undertook some reprocessing of the collection, including rehousing in new containers. In some cases, staff placed what had been in a single cubic foot box into two document cases in order to make better use of housing space. Photographs were also taken out of envelopes and placed into folders and document cases. Folders numbers and photograph envelope numbers were not changed during reconsolidation.

Guide to the Dick Williams Collection
Dick Williams papers
Finding aid encoded by lmw, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Dick Williams Collection, RH MS 6, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States