Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

"Among [Gore] Vidal's favorite observers of America's past is William Appleman Williams, one of the so-called 'revisionist' historians whose views gained influence during the 1960s and '70s. The revisionists argued that while American foreign-policy makers often believe themselves to be acting with the best of intentions and from democratic ideals, their actions tend not to differ so much in practice from those of Europe's 19th century great powers, schooled in Bismarckian expediency."

Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times, April 2003

William Appleman Williams Papers, 1877-2012

William Appleman Williams, ca. 1940s.
Williams, William Appleman. The Contours of American History. Cleveland, Ohio: World Pub. Co, 1961.
William Appleman Williams near his home at Waldport, Oregon, ca. 1970s.
William Appleman Williams, ca. 1980s. Courtesy of the College of Liberal Arts, Oregon State University. Ira Gabriel, photographer.
Naval artifacts dating to Williams's and Williams's father's military service.
William Appleman Williams in lecture, ca. 1980s. Courtesy of the College of Liberal Arts, Oregon State University. Ira Gabriel, photographer.

Information and Credits

MSS Williams

William Appleman Williams (1921-1990), an influential American historian and writer, was a member of the History faculty at Oregon State University from 1968-1986. He is regarded to be a founder of the "revisionist school" of American diplomatic history. A prolific author, Williams's The Contours of American History (1961), was named, by the Modern Library, one of the 100 best non-fiction books written in English in the twentieth century. The Williams Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, books, photographs and memorabilia.


History As a Way of Learning: On the Death of the American Historian William A. Williams
by Frank Unger. 1990. 11 pages.

A Good Life and A Good Death: A Memoir of An Independent Lady
by William Appleman Williams. 1984. 10 pages.

Ninety Days Inside The Empire
by William Appleman Williams. 2010. 133 pages.

Unpublished Manuscripts
by William Appleman Williams. 2012. 14 pages.

Timeline for William Appleman Williams

Biographical Note 

Content Description


22 linear feet; 35 boxes; 29 books


The Williams Papers are organized into six series. All archival materials within each series are arranged either chronologically or thematically, as appropriate. Items in the Williams library are organized alphabetically by author.

Related Papers

An oral history interview conducted with Bill Robbins recounting his memories of William Appleman Williams is held in the History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings Collection (OH 03).

More Information