Archives and Manuscript Collections
LLEWELYN WILLIAMS PAPERS (1902-1974)
76.2 linear feet (56 boxes)
Williams (1901-1980) was an economic botanist and wood technologist, and
an authority on plants that produce latex used commercially for gums and
rubbers. He was born in Conway, Wales and obtained his B.Sc. (1924), M.Sc.
(1935), and D.Sc. (1963) at the University of Wales, specializing in tropical
American woods and forest products. In 1928 he did post-graduate studies
under Dr. Samuel J. Record of the Yale University School of Forestry. In
the course of his career he collected and studied latex-bearing plants
and other rain-forest products in tropical regions throughout the world
for scientific and commercial purposes. He conducted extensive field investigations
in the Amazon, Caura, and Orinoco River basins of northern South America,
and later traveled to Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and the Philippine
From 1924 to 1926 Williams managed a 700-acre tea estate in Assam, India,
before receiving an appointment as Dendrologist at the Field Museum of
Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. His career at the Field Museum spanned
26 years (1926-52), where he was Curator of Economic Botany from 1938.
During this time he undertook several assignments on leave of absence,
as Research Botanist for the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
of Venezuela (1938-40; 1941-42) and as Senior Field Technician for a United
States Government agency, the Rubber Development Corporation (1942-45).
The latter assignment was an emergency World War II project to recruit
and train rubber-tappers to locate and extract Hevea rubber in the
Upper Orinoco River valley.
After the War, Williams conducted fieldwork (1945-55) for the Dreyfus
Corporation, a Wrigley Chewing Gum Co. subsidiary, to locate natural sources
of gums, rubber, resins, and waxes in tropical forests. He remained a consultant
for the Wrigley Company on tropical forest products from 1956 to 1960.
In 1961 the United States Department of Agriculture recruited Dr. Williams
for an appointment as Senior Economic Botanist, Crops Research Division.
In this capacity he was engaged in research (1963-67) on the effects of
chemical defoliants with the USDA Agricultural Research Service under contract
with the Advanced Research Projects Agency (United States Department of
Defense). Dr. Williams conducted an intensive study of forest and agricultural
zones, including aerial reconnaissance, in Thailand and other countries
of Southeast Asia, and he published a comparative study,
Southeast Asia, Puerto Rico, and Texas (1967). In 1966 he participated
in a USDA project under the auspices of the International Agricultural
Development Service to evaluate agriculture and forest resources in the
Republic of Dahomey, Africa.
Llewelyn Williams was a seasoned explorer, a world authority on botanical
products of tropical rain forests, and a man firmly dedicated to his Welsh
heritage. He did his own photography and amassed a substantial collection
of photos that document the extraction and processing of gums, rubbers,
resins, and related material from tropical plants. He published hundreds
of scientific articles and industrial reports on wood species and products
based on firsthand field investigations and surveys. He was a member of
the International Association of Wood Anatomists from its founding in 1930,
and Secretary for the Society for Economic Botany. Dr. Williams died in
1980, at the age of 79.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts,
research papers, personal papers, maps, travel memorabilia, audio tape
recordings (Dictaphone), film (16mm), artifacts, and photographic material
which includes positive and negative prints, glass negatives, and color
slides. A portion of the photography appears in scrapbooks and bound publications.
The collection covers most of Dr. Williams' career including botanical
research and fieldwork with the Chicago (Field) Museum of Natural History,
Rubber Development Corporation, Dreyfus Corporation (a subsidiary of the
Wrigley Chewing Gum Co.), and the USDA. A substantial portion of the research
papers and photography documents worldwide botanical exploration in the
tropics, especially in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins of South America
and in Thailand. The personal papers document Dr. Williams' Welsh heritage
and his affiliations to various Welsh, fraternal, and religious organizations.
His field notebooks are located in the New York Botanical Garden Collectors'
Field Notebooks series.
Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Manuscripts and Typescripts
Series 3: Research Papers
Series 4: Personal Papers
Series 5: Research Grants
Series 6: Photographic Material
Series 7: Maps
Series 8: Audio Recordings
Series 9: Film, 16mm
Series 10: Publications
Series 11: Artifacts
Series 12: Field Notebooks
Series 1 Correspondence, 1926-1974
2.5 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by author/organization.
There are 2 boxes of incoming and outgoing correspondence with colleagues,
government officials and agencies, professional organizations, and forestry
associations and agencies. Notable correspondents include Henri F. Pittier,
Richard Evans Schultes, Dreyfus Corporation executives, Rubber Development
Corporation officials, USDA officials, Wrigley Chewing Gum Company executives,
and the Yale University School of Forestry. Three files relate to requests
for specimens for a wood exhibition organized by Dr. Williams and the Chicago
(Field) Museum of Natural History in 1931. Oversize documents are located
in Box 19. Several subject files relating to research material are located
in Series 3: Research Papers. For personal correspondence, see Series 4:
Personal Papers, Boxes 16 and 17.
Series 2 Manuscripts and Typescripts, 1902-1974
7.1 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by author, thereunder by title.
There are approximately 6 boxes of manuscripts and typescripts in English
and Spanish. Although other authors are represented, Llewelyn Williams
authored most of the material, some of which is unpublished. Topics include
plant collecting, botanical exploration, latex-yielding plant species,
latex products and toxicity, phytogeography, wood technology, commercial
applications, vernacular names of plants, agricultural development, and
forest resources. There are drafts of industrial reports and a reference
compilation of American woods as well as various biographical, historical,
and popular writings. Transcripts of radio broadcasts include a Universal
Broadcasting Council program (1937) "From the Ends of the Earth" (see Series
8: Audio Recordings). Oversize material is located in Box 19. See also
Series 4: Personal Papers for autobiographical writings, reminiscences,
and short stories; and Series 10: Publications for related published material.
Series 3 Research Papers, 1929-1973
17.5 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by subject.
The Research Papers consist of subject files on (a) latex-yielding plant
species; (b) gum and rubber products; (c) tropical woods; (d) agricultural
and forest resources (by country); and (e) genus files. There are 13 files
of bibliographic material, 22 files of field exploration reports (primarily
from Brazil), and 9 files of photo indices (see Series 6: Photographic
Material). Thirty-eight files of data entitled "Field Collection Numbers"
are organized regionally and/or sequentially (e.g., "18000" sequence).
Of these there are comprehensive collection data on Peruvian woods (1929-1930),
Orinoco River basin plants (1939-1942), Plantas Venezolanos (1938),
and Plantas Recogidas en Guayana (1940) among several others. These
files consist of transcriptions of field notebook data, for which see Series
12: Field Notebooks, below.
Research milestones of Dr. Williams' career are documented with data
on the Marshall Field Amazon Expedition (1929); Rubber Development Corporation
reports on sources of South America rubber during World War II (1942-46);
Dreyfus Corporation reports and memoranda; and research on chicle and chilte
for the Wrigley Chewing Gum Co. Several files relate to government research
under the auspices of the USDA on the effects of herbicides and patterns
of successional forest growth after defoliation. For this project, see
Advanced Research Projects Agency; Forests of Southeast Asia, Puerto
Rico, and Texas; Thailand; Vietnam, and various USDA files. An index
card file is located in Box 18, and oversize documents in Boxes 19-22.
Series 4 Personal Papers, 1924-1963
1.2 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by subject.
The Personal Papers consist of biographical writings, clippings, correspondence,
diaries, memorabilia, typescripts of short stories, and personal records
(e.g., employment, financial, genealogical, legal, and medical). There
are 15 correspondence files, including 4 files with Dr. Williams' wife,
Mary Williams. The latter provide personal information about events at
home and about detailed travel itineraries, hardships, personnel, and accomplishments
from field locations throughout the world. Several files contain records
and memorabilia relating to Dr. Williams' membership in religious and fraternal
organizations and his participation in a variety of Welsh and Welsh-American
organizations. Notable items include diaries (English and Spanish) of field
trips to the upper Orinoco River basin (1941-42) and to the Peruvian Amazon
(1959) and a missionary's account of travel to the North Lushai Hills of
Assam, India (1924).
Series 5 Research Grants, 1960-1973
0.3 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by granting institution.
There are 7 files of research grant application and related material.
Most relate to applications for National Science Foundation (NSF) grants;
all but one concern research projects of Dr. Williams.
Series 6 Photographic Material, 1929-1968
37.0 lin. ft. Arranged by media, thereunder by size, thereunder by subject.
There are an estimated 11,000+ photographic images in the collection
in the form of positive and negative prints, color slides, and glass slides.
The photography documents botanical expeditions and fieldwork; tapping
and production operations of latex-bearing trees; identity and forms of
plant species (especially those producing gums and rubbers); plant cultivation;
and regional surveys of forest and agricultural habitats. Comprehensive
regional surveys in Thailand, Puerto Rico, and the Peruvian Amazon include
aerial photography. Some of the photographic material consists of line
drawings of plant species, diagrams, and maps. Much of the photography
is captioned and has been used in published material (Series 10: Publications),
documenting a variety of research projects and botanical expeditions throughout
the tropics. See Series 3: Research Papers for a photo index list.
Photos appear in single shots, numbered photographic sequences, scrapbooks
(intact and disassembled), and suspended on hanging mounts ("Fotofolio"
books). There are 4 boxes of color slides, some of which duplicate other
photographic material. Images are organized alphabetically by plant species,
botanical product, country, or location. Positive and negative prints have
been cross-referenced with Dr. Williams' identifying numbers where possible.
Major pictorial sequences have been coded systematically as follows: D
= Dahomey; E1 = Puerto Rico defoliation study; IC = Indochina; M = Manilkara;
PR = Puerto Rico; T = Texas; #-63/64 = Thailand, 1963/64; #-65 = Thailand,
1965; W = Vanilla.
Photographic subjects include surveys of latex-yielding species (e.g.,
Castilloa, Cnidoscolus, Couma, Dyera, Hevea, Manilkara, Palaquium,
et al) and latex products (e.g., balata, chicle, chilte, gutta-percha,
jelutong, leche-caspi et al). There are photo surveys of the Marshall
Field Amazon Expedition (1929); exploration of South America during World
War II; comparative studies of the forest resources of Puerto Rico, Texas,
and Thailand relating to herbicide testing; and the economic botany of
the Caura and Orinoco Valleys, Venezuela. Much of the collection has ethnographic
significance as Dr. Williams photographed individuals of aboriginal cultures
in the context of their aesthetic, material, economic, and social culture.
There are portraits of Dr. Williams, his wife and family, and group photos
of professional organizations. Oversize photos are located in Boxes 33
and 34. Photographic material can also be found in Series 2: Manuscripts
and Typescripts; Series 3: Research Papers; and Series 4: Personal Papers.
Series 7 Maps, 1935-1966
1.3 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically or by assigned number.
There are 2 boxes containing maps in a variety of formats and media.
Most of the maps are housed in file folders and are of photographic quality
(glossy and matte) or of paper and board. There are 13 oversize maps, both
published and hand-drawn. Subjects include travel routes, encampments,
forest and agricultural zones, topography, and physical and national boundaries.
Several are marked and annotated. Most are country maps, especially of
Southeast Asia and South America; there are regional and local maps as
well. Notable maps describe botanical areas studied by Dr. Williams, travel
routes in the Orinoco and Peruvian Amazon River basins, and a wide variety
of forest and agricultural zones and types in Thailand. There is one composite
aeronautical chart of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. Negatives of
photo-quality maps (and smaller photo maps) are located in Series 6: Photographic
Material. The collection complements and supports the botanical and expedition
information of Series 2: Manuscripts and Typescripts, and Series 3: Research
Series 8 Audio Recordings, 1937-1960
0.5 lin. ft. Arranged by media.
There are two types of audio recordings: (a) Dictaphone tape recordings,
and (b) an oversize 33.3 long-playing record. The Dictaphone recordings
(ca. 1960) relate to latex substances, e.g., chilte, couma, et al,
and are labeled by subject and date. The single oversize LP record is a
recording of a 1937 radio broadcast of a program entitled "From the Ends
of the Earth" featuring Llewelyn Williams' narrative about a Chicago (Field)
Museum Expedition to Peru. A transcript of the recording is located in
Series 2: Manuscripts and Typescripts, Box 3.
Series 9 Film, 16mm, 1940-1958
2.8 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.
There are 3 boxes of film of fieldwork activities on several botanical
expeditions. Of this material there are 31 containers of 16mm film and
4 oversize reels relating to travels in Venezuela and the western United
Series 10 Publications, 1924-1974
1.3 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by title.
There is one box of publications (bound and unbound), most of which
are USDA publications (1963-1973) on forest and agricultural studies in
Southeast Asia and Puerto Rico. One item, Orinoco Basin (1962),
contains original photographic prints pasted within. There is also an assortment
of journal articles and reprints in both English and Spanish relating to
tropical woods, latex-bearing trees, and botanical exploration of South
America. Most published material appears in draft form in Series 2: Manuscripts
and Typescripts. One oversize folder is located in Box 21.
Series 11 Artifacts, ca. 1950's
1.3 lin. ft. No arrangement.
There is one box of artifacts that Dr. Williams collected in his travels
to South America and elsewhere, including a wooden deskplate from the Philippine
Islands. There are an assortment of woven items (baskets, brush, and pouch),
a small box containing kapok (silk floss), 2 wooden spindles, a lump of
resin, and 10 wooden arrows (darts). [Caution: the darts are extremely
sharp - handle with care.]
Series 12 Field Notebooks, 1921-1965
3.4 lin. ft. Arranged by assigned number.
There are 48 field notebooks containing field collection (specimen)
data and numbers, diaries, accounts, and other field notes. In addition,
there is one (unnumbered) box containing 35 notebooks of field notes, diaries,
accounts, and other textual material. Most of these are small pocket notebooks.
All of Dr. Williams' field notebooks have been separated and removed to
the New York Botanical Garden Collectors' Field Notebooks series.
The University of Wisconsin (Madison) Department of Botany donated the
Llewelyn Williams collection to The New York Botanical Garden in 1988 via
Dr. Brian Boom.
The New York Botanical Garden
RA Society for Economic Botany Records
CFN Numbers 119, 380-392
Processed October 2000 by David Rose under a grant from
the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-23141-98 and a grant
from the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation.
For more information and a complete description contact:
Susan Fraser, NYBG
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
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