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Biographical Note

Scope and Content


Preferred Citation

Restrictions on Access

Restrictions on Use

Subject Terms

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Papers of Colin Williams

Lisa Todd, student intern and L. Dale Patterson, Archivist-Records Administrator

United Methodist Archives and History Center
General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church


Overview of Collection

Record Creator: :Williams, Colin
Title: Papers of Colin Williams
Title: Williams Papers
Date Span: 1950-1980
Abstract: Lectures, sermons and correspondence of the Rev. Dr. Colin Williams.
Extent: 2.0
Resource ID: gcah.mss.gcah5077

Biographical Note

Colin Wilbur Williams (1921- ), a Methodist Church Minister, was born in Victoria, Australia. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Wesley College, Melbourne University before entering Drew University in 1947 in pursuit of a Bachelor of Divinity degree which he earned--summa cum laude--in 1950. He then returned to serve the Methodist Church in Melbourne from 1952 to 1954 before continuing his studies towards a Ph. D. degree at Drew Theological Seminary in 1954. It was during this period--1955 to 1958--that Williams taught historical theology at Garrett Theological Seminary and also lectured at Drew Theological Seminary. Upon completion of his Ph. D. in June, 1958, Williams once again returned to Australia where he was appointed Professor of Theology at Queens College, Melbourne University. He served in this capacity from 1959 to 1962, leaving to join the National council of Churches in Christ in 1963 as Executive Director of the Central Department of Evangelism. Among his most notable professional accomplishments was his position as tenured faculty in the Yale Divinity School where he also served as Dean from 1969 to 1979. After his ten year service as dean, Dr. Williams continued to teach at Yale until 1983 when he was appointed the first Exectutive Vice President at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. He has been recognized and honored by Yale for the "extraordinary contributions" to the Yale Divinity School and by Drew University because of his "extraordinary range of accomplishments." Among his numerous publications are John Wesley's Theology Today, 1960, Where in the World, 1963, and What in the World, 1965. Dr. Williams married Phyllis Miller in 1949. They have three daughters.

Scope Note

The Papers of Colin W. Williams comprise documents of his life's work and are categorized as Student Class Notes, Course Lectures, Sermons, Conference/Presentations, Publications and Correspondence. His Papers span the years 1949-1988 and chronicle his activities as a student, a professional, and a family man while in his native land, Australia, and subsequently, in his adopted home, the United States of America. Beginning in 1949 when Williams was a student, his Papers include meticulously taken hand-written classroom notes and typed seminar papers produced by a student very much immersed in his studies. Additionally, his course lectures include seminar presentations, syllabi, notes, and newspaper articles that support his work as a lecturer at Drew Theological Seminary and Garrett Theological Seminary between 1955 and 1958 and a tenured faculty at Yale Divinity School from 1979 to 1983. His tenure as Professor of Systematic Theology from 1959 to 1962 at Queens Royal College of the University of Melbourne resulted in a carefully typed,edited, duplicated, and assembled set of lecture notes from his Contemporary Theology course. He left these notes in the care of his colleagues to "reproduce and distribute if students and others in Australia could benefit thereby." The Papers of Colin W. Williams also contain hand-written sermons and typed lectures and speeches for the numerous speaking engagements and conferences to which he was invited. Also included in his Papers are publications from his time at the Aspen Institute, conference papers, and tributes, among others. Finally, his correspondence includes professional and personal letters from 1949 to 1988. Most of these letters are written to his wife Phyllis during their years of courtship prior to 1949, when they were married, and during their marriage.


Materials have been arranged in the following manner.

Student Class Notes
Course Lectures
Conference and Church Presentations

Preferred Citation

When citing material from this collection please use the following format: Direct reference to the item or its file folder, Papers of Colin Williams, United Methodist Church Archives - GCAH, Madison, New Jersey. Do not make use of the items call number as that is not a stable descriptor.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Detailed use restrictions relating to our collections can be requested from the office of the archivist at the General Commission on Archives and History. Photocopying is handled by the staff and may be limited in certain instances. Before using any material for publication from this collection a formal request for permission to publish is expected and required.

Container List

Series: Lectures
Sub-series: Student Class Notes
Call Number Folder Title Date(s)
1231-2-1: 1 Stanley Hopper's Course and Notes on Theology undated
1231-2-1: 2 The Life and Thought of Martin Luther undated
1231-2-1: 11 Medieval Mind 1949/1950
1231-2-2: 4 Christian Theology 701 1950
Sub-series: Course Lectures
Call Number Folder Title Date(s)
1231-2-1: 4 Christology undated
1231-2-1: 6 Early Christian Doctrine 1959
1231-2-1: 5 Barth, Bultmann, Tillich 1961
1231-2-2: 2 Luther C-7 1964/1965
1231-2-2: 3 Bonhoeffer 1977
1231-2-2: 5 Kierkegaard 1953
1231-2-2: 6 Theologians of Enlightenment 1958
1231-2-2: 8 Contemporary Theology 1959/1962
1231-2-3: 1 Doctrine of Ministry 1971
1231-2-3: 2 British History: folder 1 1949/1950
1231-2-3: 3 British History: folder 2 1949/1950
1231-2-3: 4 British History: folder 3 1949/1950
1231-2-3: 7 Creation 1979
Sub-series: Conference and Church Presentations
Call Number Folder Title Date(s)
1231-2-1: 3 Medieval Theology undated
1231-2-1: 7 Introduction to Theology 1981
1231-2-2: 1 Shaffer Lectures 1958
1231-2-2: 9 General Lectures 1959/1960
1231-2-6: 2 Methodism and Ecumenicism 1955/1956
1231-2-6: 3 Evangelism 1956/1973
1231-2-6: 6 The Nature of the Church 1965/1967
1231-2-7: 5 Secularity and Religion 1976
1231-2-8: 9 "Historic Roots and Present Tasks: The Church Then and Now" 1979
1231-2-8: 10 In Praise of Humanism 1980
1231-2-8: 11 The Challenge of Evangelism in Our Day 1965

Series: Correspondence
Call Number Folder Title Date(s)
1231-2-8: 1 Letters: Folder 1 1949/1967
1231-2-8: 2 Letters: Folder 2 1954/1968
1231-2-8: 3 Final Report: Yale Divinity School 1979
1231-2-8: 13 Recognition 1974/1979

Series: Sermons
Call Number Folder Title Date(s)
1231-2-4: 1 Sermons A 1957
1231-2-4: 3 Sermons D: Folder 1 1959/1975
1231-2-4: 4 Sermons D: Folder 2 1959/1975
1231-2-4: 5 Sermons E 1972
1231-2-4: 6 Sermons on Prayer 1953/1954
1231-2-4: 7 Sermons on Prayer 1953/1954
1231-2-5: 1 Sermons F 1957/1961
1231-2-5: 2 Materials for new speeches 1964
1231-2-6: 1 Miscellaneous Sermons 1959
1231-2-7: 6 Miscellaneous Sermons: Folder 1 1960
1231-2-7: 7 Miscellaneous Sermons: Folder 2 1960
1231-2-7: 8 Miscellaneous Sermons: Folder 3 1949/1959

Series: Publications
Call Number Folder Title Date(s)
1231-2-5: 4 McCutchan Thesis 1968