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Personal papers of William Staples

Call Number: PP 638


The William Staples collection contains correspondence regarding Staples' employment at the University of Kansas, correspondence and publication agreements with Polity Press, and various records tied to his work as a professor at the University of Kansas.


  • Creation: April 7, 1980 - September 7, 2019


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 William Staples

William Staples is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Director of the Surveillance Studies Research Center at the University of Kansas. He worked as a professor in sociology at KU for 31 years before his retirement.

Staples graduated from the University of Oregon in 1980 with a bachelors in science in Sociology. He went on to receive his masters and doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1984 and 1987, respectively. After completing his doctoral studies, he became a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1987. Staples also served as an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA from 1987 - 1989 before beginning work at KU.

He has published five books, including Everyday Surveillance: Vigilance and Visibility in Postmodern Life (2014); Encyclopedia of Privacy (Volumes 1-2) (2006); Power, Profits, and Patriarchy: The Social Organization of Work at a British Metal Trades Firm, 1791-1922 (2001); The Culture of Surveillance: Discipline and Social Control in the United States (1996); and Castles of Our Conscience: Social Control and the American State, 1800-1985 (1990).

In addition to his publications, Staples also served as a co-editor of Sociological Inquiry and The Sociological Quarterly, as well as the Associate Editor of Surveillance and Society.

Staples was the recipient of a Tony Arnold Faculty Research Stipend from KU in 2012 to further his research into the history of birth certificates. He also received in 2011 the Balfour Jeffrey Award in Humanities and Social Sciences, one of four Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards recognizing excellence in research, for his work on social control and surveillance.

[Information retrieved from University Archives “William Staples” morgue file and from University of Kansas Sociology Department faculty website:]


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 638

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, William Staples, 2020.

Related Materials

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Separated Materials

Several volumes written or edited by Staples have been separated from the collection to be individually cataloged and can be found via the online KU Libraries catalog.

Guide to the William Staples Collection
Personal papers of William Staples
Finding aid prepared by mmj. Finding aid encoded by mmj.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of William Staples, PP 638, 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