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Robert E. Williams Aviation Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-376

Scope and Content

Robert E. Williams was an aviation illustrator who worked for Douglas Aircraft and was the managing editor of the American Aviation Historical Society Journal for many years. The majority of the collection is composed of photographs of a wide-variety of aircraft, with the largest number being Douglas aircraft.

Series I, Photographs, contains a wide-range of photographs of various aircraft including aircraft produced by Douglas, McDonnell, North American, Bell, and many others. The photographs are generally grouped according to manufacturer and by type of aircraft, i.e. fighters, bombers, etc. and are not necessarily in alphabetical order. The photographs were primarily used to illustrate articles by Mr. Williams in the American Aviation Historical Society Journal (see Series II, Aviation Research). The collection also includes photographs of several prototype aircraft produced by Douglas, including the XB-19, YC-15, XB-42, the original DC-8, and the original DC-4 (later renamed the DC-4E).

Series II, Aviation Research, primarily consists of newspaper and magazine articles Mr. Williams obtained while researching a particular airplane or topic. Some files contain drawings and a few contain articles written by Mr. Williams. The files are identified by topic, but are not grouped by topic or by aircraft and are not in alphabetical or date order. The order of the files was established by Mr. Williams and generally follow his research interests. The order of the files in this series generally match the order of the files in Series I, Photographs.

Dates

  • Creation: 1909-2001

Creator

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of Robert E. Williams

Robert E. "Bob" Williams was born in a small mid-western town in Indiana in 1923. He married his high school sweetheart six months after her graduation from high school and three days before he entered the U.S. Army in December 1941. They raised six children. With Bob in the Army, his wife, Gerry, followed him to each Army post until he went overseas in late 1944.

When Bob returned from overseas, he left the Army and began attending college at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio. During school breaks, when the G.I Bill check were not coming in, he found work as a sign painter. After graduation, Bob concentrated on the sign business and bought an undeveloped lot where he hand-built a house for his family.

Bob started his aerospace career working for the Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, in Dayton, Ohio, as an illustrator. He rose to a supervisory position but, realizing the limitations of a civil service career, he decided to move to California to work for the Douglas Aircraft Company where he worked for 30 years. When he started at Douglas, there were C-124s, B-26s, and the XC-133 in the plant. His first assignment was to furnish illustrations for the XC-122. For the Douglas Aircraft Company engineering publications department he created "Yesteryear...." a series of articles on the history of Douglas aircraft that were published world-wide in the "Douglas Service" magazine that was distributed to all users of Douglas aircraft.

In the spring of 1977 he took over the post of managing editor for the American Aviation Historical Society Journal and held that post for twenty-four years. During those 24-years he produced close to 100 issues, developing a new style and increasing its professional quality. He also moved the publication from being hand-produced to being produced by computer.

Robert E. "Bob: Williams died on July 18, 2003.

Extent

33.3 linear feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Robert E. Williams was an aviation illustrator who worked for Douglas Aircraft for over 30 years. He was also the managing editor of the American Aviation Historical Society Journal for twenty-four years. The majority of his aviation collection is composed of photographs of a wide-variety of aircraft, with the largest number being Douglas aircraft. It also includes photographs of several prototype aircraft produced by Douglas, including the XB-19, YC-15, XB-42, the original DC-8, and the original DC-4 (later renamed the DC-4E). Along with the general aviation photographs, the collection includes assembly line photos, airplane schematics, sales brochures, newspaper and magazine articles, drawings, commemorative memorabilia, and articles written by Mr. Williams for the Douglas Company newsletter "Yesteryear," and the American Aviation Historical Society Journal.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series.

  1. Series I: Photographs, 1918-2001
  2. Series II: Aviation Research

Acquisition Information

The Robert E. Williams Aviation Collection was donated to Special Collections and Archives on November 14, 2003 by Mr. Williams' wife, Geraldine Williams.

Related Material

MS-165, Peter B. Kline Papers

MS-223, William F. Yeager Aviation Collection

MS-225, Art Kreiger Aviation Collection

MS-344, Walter Matthew Jefferies Aviation Collection

MS-353, Robert L. Cavanagh Aviation Collection

Separated Material

Approximately 375 aviation history books were received with the collection. These books were integrated into the Special Collections and Archives aviation history book inventory located in the department's Reading Room.

Processing Information

When received, the photographs and general aviation research were filed together in files number 1 through more than 300. This made the collection difficult to use. In addition, there was a large number of duplicate photographs throughout the collection. The decision was made to separate the photographs from the research, remove multiple copies of the same photograph, and create two series -- photographs and aviation research. Files are cross-referenced in the collection inventory file list, e.g. the box and folder in the aviation research series that applies to a specific photograph file in the photograph series will provide the box and folder of the corresponding file.

Processed by Ed O’Shaughnessy 2012-2013. Finding aid written to DACS standards by John Armstrong, 2014.

Title
Guide to the Robert E. Williams Aviation Collection (MS-376)
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by John Armstrong, 2014.
Date
2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA
937-775-2092