Kenneth P. Williams papers, 1772-1963C193

A Guide to his Papers at the Indiana University Archives

Finding aid created by: Finding aid prepared by Kewanna Williams and Christopher S. Eaton

Creator Williams, Kenneth P. (Kenneth Powers), 1887-1958.
Title: Kenneth P. Williams papers
Dates: 1772-19631934-1945
Quantity: 5.4 cubic feet
Abstract: 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.
Language: Materials are in English unless otherwise indicated.
Repository: Indiana University Archives

Biographical Note

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 Note

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.


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


Access Restrictions: The Academic garb, Uniforms, and Personal Memorabilia Series is restricted. Advance notice required.

Usage Restrictions: 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. The Indiana University Archives respects the intellectual property rights of others and does not claim any copyrights for non-university records, materials in the public domain, or materials for which we do not hold a Deed of Gift. Responsibility for the determination of the copyright status of these materials rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Researchers are responsible for securing permission from copyright owners and any other rights holders for any reuse of these materials that extends beyond fair use or other statutory limitations. Digital reproductions of archival materials from the Indiana University Archives are made available for noncommercial educational and research purposes only. If you are the copyright holder for any of the digitized materials and have questions about its inclusion on our site, please contact the Indiana University Archivist.

Related Material

Photographs transferred to the University Archives Photographs Collection.

Subject Headings


Williams, Kenneth P. (Kenneth Powers), 1887-1958 --Archives.
Williams, Kenneth P. (Kenneth Powers), 1887-1958. Transits of Mercury.

Corporate Bodies

Indiana University --Faculty --Archives.


Astronomers --Indiana --Bloomington --Archives.
Celestial mechanics.
Celestial mechanics.
Mathematicians --Indiana --Bloomington --Archives.
Mathematics teachers --Indiana --Bloomington --Archives.
Mercury (Planet) --Transit.
Transits of Mercury.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

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

Acquisition Information

Accessions 0117, 9301, and 9302.

Processing information

Processed by Kewanna Williams and Christopher S. Eaton

Completed in 2002

Table of Contents

Research notes


Subject files

Oversized document research notes

Uniform, academic garb, & personal memorabilia

Research notes
box 1 Asteroid 1063 1927-Spring 1934
box 1 Effects of Planets on Earth; Comparison of Newcomb's and Leverrier's Sub Tables 1936-1937
box 1 Errors in Newcomb; Venus Perturbations in Newcomb's Tables of the Sun 1940-1942
box 1 Important Errata in Newcomb; Misc. Notes 1935-1939
box 1 Mercury Venus, Secular Perturbations Notebook and Misc. Calculations undated
box 1 Observations Concerning Observations undated
box 1 Orbit Book
box 1 chpt. VII, Certain Original Calculations, Asteroid 1909 HC undated
box 1 chpt. VIII, Original Calculations: Asteroid 1909 HC, Methods of Gauss undated
box 1 exercises undated
box 1 chpt. VII, Method of Poincare for #13, Asteroid 1909 HC undated
box 1 Orbit Book Misc. undated
box 1 Orbit Notes undated
box 1 Orbit of Comet Schavmasse 1917 II undated
box 1 Orbit of Encke's Comet 1931a & Comet 1927 IV (Stearns) 1938
box 1 Orbit of Ryre's Comet 1931 ca. 18 Aug 1931 - ca. 11 Apr 1933
box 1 Orbit of 931, Whittemora Method of Laplace undated
box 1 Original Computations 1936-1944
box 1 Transits of Mercury Computations of Times of Contact
box 1 ca. 1723 - ca. 1861
box 1 ca. 1868 - ca. 1927
box 1 Transits of Mercury Misc. Original Computations, etc. 1935-1936
box 1 Transits of Mercury, the Normal Equations and the Solutions ca. 1937
box 1 Translations of Old Works undated
box 1 The Application of Quaternions to the Newtonian Potential Function 1909
box 1 Astronomical Journal 1901-1945
box 1 Astronomical Observatory 1926-1935
box 1 Bibliography, Kenneth Powers Williams undated
box 1 The Calculation of Planetary Motions 1935-1940
box 1 Celestial Mechanics
box 1 chpts. IV-VII (duplicate) undated
box 1 chpts. IX-X (duplicate) undated
box 1 chpts. IV-VII undated
box 1 chpts. IX-X undated
box 1 special chpts. undated
box 1 pre-1934, form of chapters revised in 1934 1934
box 1 revision of chpts. 1-3 1934
box 1 Long Period Terms ca. 1908
box 1 Misc. notes ca. 1929
box 1 Masses, Axes, etc. undated
box 2 Dans La Theorie Des Mouvements Planetaires 1863
box 2 Determining Orbits 1914-1936
box 2 Deuxieme Partie ca. 1751
box 2 Iakttagelsen Och Undersokningar 1903
box 2 Methodes de Wronski 1881
box 2 Negativen und Ungraden Potenzen & Potenz des radius vectors 1853-1854
box 2 Radiative Equilibrium May 1928
box 2 Revue D'artillerie 1924
box 2 The Secular Variations of the Elements of the Orbits of the 4 Inner Planets 1912
box 2 Solar Tables and Letters 1942-1945
box 2 Spherical Astronomy
box 2 undated
box 2 (duplicate) undated
box 2 The Tennessee River Campaign 1950
box 2 The Transits of Mercury & supplements (printed copy) 1939
box 2 Uber die Multiplizitat der Losungen der Theorie der Bahnbestimmung der Kometen 1928
Union Observatory ca. 1925
box 2 The United States Naval Observatory 1942
box 2 Wallace-Snedecor Correlation 1925-1945
Subject files
box 2 Awards, Certificates, Nominations, etc. 1950-1958
box 2 Contact List for K.P. Williams Information & Memorabilia Nov. 1958
box 2 Copies Sent, Orders, Comments, Reviews, etc. 1934-1943
box 2 Correspondence 12 Sep 1907 - 22 Feb 1960
box 2 Inventory List of K.P. Williams' Uniform & Accessories 10 Feb 1966
box 2 Lunar Theory Hill 1914-1951
box 2 Kenneth Powers Williams Memorial Award Ceremony at the Spring President's Day Review 1 Nov 1958 - 10 Feb 1966
box 2 Orbit Book ca. 1942
box 2 R.A. of E Ophiuchi undated
Oversized document research notes
box 3 College Algebra ca. 1928
box 3 Computations on "Delaporte" undated
box 3 Earth and Mercury I undated
box 3 Mercury-Jupiter II undated
box 3 Mercury-Mars II & III undated
box 3 Mercury-Saturn IV undated
box 3 The Secular Motion of the Ecliptic undated
box 3 Secular Perturbations
box 3 1. Effect of the Earth on Venus, E. L. Godfrey 1934
box 3 2. Effect of Jupiter on Venus, E. L. Godfrey 1934
box 3 3. Effect of Mars on Venus, E. L. Godfrey 1934
box 3 4. Effect of Saturn on Venus, E. L. Godfrey 1934
Uniform, academic garb, & personal memorabilia