Collection ID: C193
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Collection context


Williams, Kenneth P. (Kenneth Powers), 1887-1958
Williams taught mathematics at Indiana University for nearly 50 years however, he was best known for his multi-volume work, Lincoln Finds a General, 1949. Williams was also the first commander of the Student Army Training Corps, later to be known as The Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Indiana University.
5.4 cubic feet
Materials are in English unless otherwise indicated.
Preferred citation:

[Item], Kenneth P. Williams papers, Collection C193, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.


Biographical / Historical:

Kenneth Powers Williams was born in Urbana, Ohio on August 25, 1887 to John H. and Eva Augusta (Powers) Williams. He attended Clark College from 1905 to 1906 before enrolling at Indiana University where he received his A.B. degree in 1908 and his A.M. degree in 1909. In 1909 he was employed as an instructor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at I.U. Having been granted a leave from I.U. in 1911, he attended Princeton University where he earned a PhD. in 1913. In 1914 he returned to I.U. and resumed his teaching career in the Department of Mathematics.

During his academic career at I.U. he served as an assistant professor from 1914-19, an associate professor from 1919-24, and as a full professor from 1924-37. He was awarded the Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1938 which he served as until 1944. Throughout his academic career, he made many noteworthy achievements in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and history. One of his landmark achievements was the publication of "Lincoln Finds a General: A Military Study of the Civil War" in 1949. Originally published as a two volume set, he added volume three in 1952, volume four in 1956, and died while writing volume five. He retired in 1957 as a Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus.

In addition to his career in education, Kenneth Powers Williams also had a successful military career. He first served as a First Lieutenant with the Indiana National Guard near the Mexican border in 1916 during the Mexican Border Expedition. On April 17, 1917 Indiana University established a military training program in Bloomington called the Student Army Training Corps with Williams in command. In 1919 the Student Army Training Corps was renamed the Reserve Officers Training Corps. From the years 1917 to 1919 he served in the Rainbow Division as a U.S. Army Captain of Field Artillery with the American Expeditionary Force, 1921 to 1931 he served as an officer in the Indiana National Guard Field Artillery, 1931 to 1939 he served as a Colonel and the Chief of Staff of the 38th division of the Indiana National Guard before commanding the 113th Quartermaster Regiment, and eventually becoming Quartermaster of the 38th division in national service. Among the many commendations he was awarded during his lifetime was the Indiana distinguished service award for his military service.

After several months of illness, Kenneth Powers Williams, the man known as the "father of ROTC" at Indiana University, died on September 25, 1958. He left behind a wife, Ellen Laughlin Scott and no children.

Scope and Content:

This collection is divided into 4 series. The Research notes series is divided into two groups: general research notes and oversized document research notes. In the case of the oversized documents, these notes were recorded on the blank backs of some of Williams' oversized manuscript sheets. This series is arranged alphabetically. Some of the dates for these notes may not be exact.

The Publications series consists of articles, manuals, or other published items that were either written by Williams or, otherwise, acquired by him. This series is arranged alphabetically.

The Subject files series is made up of awards and certificates that Williams had received throughout his career as well as itineraries for the U.S. Army ROTC Commencement at Indiana University. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

The Academic garb, uniforms, & personal memorabilia is a restricted series due to the delicate state of the cloth of the uniforms. The series is contained in two boxes and 1 oversized document box. To see the academic garb and uniforms special arrangements must be made with archives staff.

Acquisition information:
Accessions 0117, 9301, and 9302.
Processing information:

Processed by Kewanna Williams and Christopher S. Eaton

Completed in 2002


This collection is organized in four series: 1.) Research notes 2.) Publications 3.) Subject files 4.) Academic garb, uniforms, & personal memorabilia.



The Academic garb, Uniforms, and Personal Memorabilia Series is restricted.

Advance notice required.


The donor(s) of this collection have not transferred their copyrights for the materials to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, please contact the Indiana University Archives staff.

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[Item], Kenneth P. Williams papers, Collection C193, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

Indiana University Bloomington
Herman B Wells Library E460
1320 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7000, United States
Indiana University Bloomington