Williams, Charl Ormond, 1885-1969

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Educator, suffragist, and Democratic Party worker Charl Ormond Williams was born in Arlington, Tennessee, the third of six children of Crittenden and Minnie Williams. She graduated from Arlington’s “high school on the hill” in 1903 and began teaching at Millington later that year. She served as principal of Bartlett secondary school 1904-6, then taught at Germantown High School. Within three years, she became Germantown’s principal, serving until 1912. She worked two years in the Mathematics Department at West Tennessee State Normal School (now the University of Memphis) before becoming superintendent of Shelby County Schools, a post she held until 1922. She revolutionized the county school system, increasing its funding, adding new school buildings, and doubling school attendance. During her tenure, Shelby County’s schools rose to national prominence.

Williams’s rapid rise in political patronage-ridden Shelby County indicates that her family enjoyed good relations with E. H. Crump’s political machine. Williams became the first Tennessee woman to serve on the Democratic National Committee. She later served as a delegate to the 1920 National Convention and became the first woman in either major party to serve as national vice-chairman. Williams worked closely with the Shelby County delegation in the struggle for the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. She remained active in Democratic politics and enjoyed a close friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt in later years.

Williams’s talent and experience in partisan politics also served her well in her professional career. In 1921 the National Education Association (NEA) elected her to the presidency, making her the youngest, the first rural, and the first southern woman so elected. The success of her tenure as president immediately led to a salaried position with the NEA as national field secretary. She served with distinction in that office until she retired, traveling thirty to fifty thousand miles per year, lecturing, serving on a variety of boards and committees, and writing numerous articles and two books on educational reform.

In 1935 Williams was elected president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the first educator to hold that post. The College of William and Mary awarded Williams an honorary Phi Beta Kappa membership, and Southwestern (now Rhodes) College granted her an honorary doctorate. Following her 1950 retirement, Williams took a ten-thousand-mile tour of the Soviet Union, parts of the Near East, and Greece. Williams died on January 14, 1969, in Washington. Her papers are held in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. 1860 - 1964. Correspondence with Harry S. Truman. 1945 - 1962. Harry S. Truman, 1945-May 1947. 1945 - 1962. Letter from Harry S. Truman to Eleanor Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
referencedIn Beard, Mary Ritter, 1876-1958. Papers, 1935-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Official Files (Truman Administration). 1945 - 1953. Official Files . 1945 - 1953. Presidential Commission on Higher Education, OF 1060. 1945 - 1953. Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman Library
referencedIn Neprud, Marion C., 1897-1965. Papers, 1914-1966. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Papers, 1922 - 1961 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Shouse, Catherine Filene, 1896-1994. Papers, 1878-1998 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Official Files (Truman Administration). 1945 - 1953. Official Files . 1945 - 1953. Presidential Commission on Higher Education, OF 1060. 1945 - 1953. Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman Library
referencedIn Official Files (Truman Administration). 1945 - 1953. Official Files . 1945 - 1953. Presidential Commission on Higher Education, OF 1060. 1945 - 1953. Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman Library
referencedIn Ludlow mss., 1898-1948 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Papers, 1870s-1989 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Powell, Rose Arnold, 1876-1961. Papers, 1922-1961 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) Archives, 1885-1990s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Williams, Charl Ormond, 1885-1969. Papers of Charl Ormond Williams, 1924-1959 (bulk 1935-1945). Library of Congress
creatorOf Williams, Charl Ormond, 1885-1969. Papers, 1940-1953 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Williams, Charl Ormond. Papers, 1940-1946. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Paul Blanshard Papers, 1912-1979 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Rawalt, Marguerite, 1895-. Papers, 1870s-1989 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Charl Ormond Williams Papers, 1924-1959, (bulk 1935-1945) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Barkley, Alben William, 1877-1956. person
associatedWith Beard, Mary Ritter, 1876-1958 person
associatedWith Bethune, Mary McLeod, 1875-1955. person
associatedWith Black, Hugo LaFayette, 1886-1971. person
associatedWith Blanshard, Paul, 1892- person
associatedWith Byrnes, James F. (James Francis), 1882-1972. person
associatedWith Connally, Tom, 1877-1963. person
associatedWith Democratic Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Forrestal, James, 1892-1949. person
associatedWith Hull, Cordell, 1871-1955. person
associatedWith Kahn, Herman, 1907-1975. person
associatedWith Luce, Clare Boothe, 1903-1987. person
associatedWith Ludlow, Louis, 1873-1950 person
associatedWith Morgenthau, Henry, 1891-1967. person
associatedWith National Education Association. corporateBody
associatedWith National Education Association of the United States. corporateBody
associatedWith Neprud, Marion C., 1897-1965. person
associatedWith Outdoor Advertising Association of America corporateBody
associatedWith Powell, Rose Arnold, 1876-1961. person
associatedWith Rawalt, Marguerite, 1895- person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. person
associatedWith Rose Arnold, 1876-1961 person
associatedWith Shouse, Catherine Filene, 1896-1994. person
correspondedWith Smith, Henry Lester, 1876- person
associatedWith Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-1995. person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965. person
associatedWith Truman, Bess Wallace, 1885-1982 person
associatedWith Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972. person
associatedWith United States. Supreme Court. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965. person
associatedWith White House Conference on How Women May Share in Post-War Policy-Making (1944 : Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith White House Conference on Rural Education (1944 : Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Woodruff, Caroline Salome, 1866-1949. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Washington, D. C. DC US
Tennessee TN US
Subject
Education
Education
Church and state
Church and state
Depressions
Educational change
Educational change
Education and state
Education, Rural
Education, Rural
Indians of North America
People with disabilities
Presidents
Presidents' spouses
Public welfare
Segregation in education
Segregation in education
Voyages and travels
Women
Occupation
Educators
Activity

Person

Birth 1885

Death 1969-01-14

Female

Americans

English

Information

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