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Opal Williams Collection

Identifier: 2008.167

Content Description

The Opal Williams Collection spans the years between 1921-1977. It highlights the career and education of Miss Williams. The bulk of the collection focuses on her time at East Texas State University (ETSU) where she was a library science professor and librarian, becoming head librarian in 1933. A significant portion of the collection is dedicated to Miss Williams’ civic stewardship at the Commerce Public Library in Commerce, Texas. Of particular note in the collection is a Commerce Public Library scrapbook, which charts the history of the local public library between the years 1964-1971 in news clippings. Materials from ETSU include outlines, bibliographies, examinations and lecture notes from multiple library courses. The collection also contains materials related to professional organizations in which she was affiliated, such as American Library Association (ALA), American Association of University Women (AAUW), Texas Library Association (TLA), Texas State Women’s College/Texas Women’s University (TSWC/TWU), Delta Kappa Gamma Society, and First Christian Church of Commerce, Texas. Additionally, the collection includes correspondence between Miss Williams and the TSWC alumnae. In 1976, Miss Williams served as class agent to the TSWC Class of 1925, which involved gathering information about the lives of fellow classmates. Family and personal memorabilia, travel memorabilia, educational, printed materials, and photographs also make up a portion of the collection. Boxes 1 through 4 of the collection are left arranged in original order, organized alphabetically by topic, as a single series. Box 5 contains mixed media arranged alphabetically by topic, including a book volume, photographs, and a viewmaster reel.


  • 1883 - 1979

Conditions Governing Use

Items in the collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Biographical / Historical

Opal Williams was born in Frisco, Texas on October 16, 1903. She dedicated her life to the profession of academic librarianship at East Texas State University (ETSU) and to public librarianship at the Commerce Public Library in Commerce, Texas. Miss Williams graduated from Frisco High School (1921), received a B.A degree from the Texas College of Industrial Arts, now Texas WOman's University/TWU, B.S. in Library Science from University of Illinois Library School, and M.S. in Library Science at Columbia University.

Opal Williams was the first East Texas State University Librarian to be granted emeritus rank after forty-eight years (1925-1973) as a professor and librarian. During her tenure, she helped plan and organize the School of Library Services at ETSU in 1948. She also taught the first academic courses leading to a B.S. in Library Science, such as: library organization, jobbers and booksellers, and bibliography methods. Miss Williams was a charter member of the Friends of the Commerce Public Library, served as executive vice president and chairperson of book selection for the Commerce Public Library Board. In 1977, Miss Williams served on the local history committee at Commerce Public Library, whose purpose was to actively build an archival collection of artifacts and memorabilia pertaining to Commerce and the surrounding area. Miss Williams worked to set up a cataloging system for the library's local history archival collection.

Throughout her career, Opal Williams belonged to the professional organizations including the American Library Association (ALA), American Association of University Women (AAUW), Texas Library Association (TLA), Texas Woman’s University (TWU), Delta Kappa Gamma Society, and First Christian Church of Commerce, Texas. She attended conferences, seminars and workshops.

Miss Williams also travelled and kept guides, playbills, a 1939 World's Fair map, and postcards from Alaska, Boston, England, Europe, Wales, Scotland, San Francisco, etc.

Miss Williams died in Sulphur Springs, Texas on June 3, 2000.


3.2 Linear Feet (2 record center boxes, 3 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



Materials are arranged alphabetically by subject and in chronological order.

Related Materials

OH00681.1 Opal Williams Oral History, OH00681.2 Opal Williams Oral History

Condition Description

There are some instances of discoloration and water damage with some of the scrapbooked items. Overall items are in fair condition.


Opal Williams Collection
In Progress
Laura Adams
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, Waters Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce Repository