Harold C. Williams Papers

The Harold C. Williams Papers are now fully processed and available for research! The OMA received the papers in the spring of 2014 and an intern worked on the initial collection organization. Then, this spring, OMA student worker Avery, wrapped up the arrangement and description of the collection.

Harold C. Williams Finding Aid

Williams Biographical Information

Williams was a community activist, civic leader, and educator in Portland, Oregon, from the 1960s until his death in 2012.

Born in 1943 in Texarkana, Arkansas, he came to Portland, Oregon in 1959 and finished his secondary education at Jefferson High School in 1962. Williams earned an Associate Degree in Education from Multnomah Junior College in 1965 and attended the University of California in Berkeley where he received a certificate in race relations in June 1967. Williams returned to Portland and completed BS and MS degrees in political science at Portland State University in 1969 and 1972. He served as director of a satellite campus of PSU in northeast Portland for two years and was appointed as the Director of Affirmative Action for the State of Oregon in 1973. He served in this position until 1978.

Active in the local chapters of the Urban League and NAACP, Williams was a strong presence in the Oregon African American community, working with at-risk youth at Maclaren Youth Correctional Facility and creating the “Success Academy” program in 2004. Williams’ service to the community was also reflected in his membership on the board of Portland Community College, where he helped advocate for the formation of the Cascade branch campus in Northeast Portland. Williams married Cal Robertson in 1975 and together they raised three children: Natasha, Harold Jr. (also referred to as Harold Two), and Eric.

CH2A & Associates was established by Harold C. Williams and his wife, Cal Robertson Williams, as a consulting firm to the business and public sector. The firm specialized in affirmative action, labor relations, conflict resolution, personnel management, and counseling.

The Broadous Family consists of the descendants of Rev. and Mrs. Zachrah Broadous, Sr. of Texarkana, Arkansas. Rev. Zachrah Broadous, Sr., was Harold Williams’ grandfather and died in 1943, the year that Williams was born. The extensive Broadous Family has gathered for family reunions every 3 years since 1948.

Collection Scope and Content

The Harold C. Williams Papers document Williams’ community activism, volunteer service, and civic leadership in Portland, Oregon as well as his immediate and extended family. Much of the collection consists of materials assembled by Williams; photographs documenting his community involvement and family; and sound and video recordings of Williams making speeches and presentations.

The Papers include biographical and personal materials; records documenting his involvement with Portland Community College and Portland State University; and materials pertaining to African Americans in Portland, especially education, employment, and programs for at-risk youth. The collection includes a wide variety of formats, including videotapes, audio cassette sound recordings, photographs, photograph albums, and two digital photographs. Of special note are video recordings and photographs of Jesse Jackson.

Williams’ religious life and church activities are reflected throughout the collection and include materials he assembled and wrote, photographs, and video and audio recordings of sermons, gospel choir festivals, and memorial services.

Williams’ immediate family of his wife, Cal, and his children as well as his extended Broadous family are depicted in many photographs of life events such as birthdays, graduations, and weddings; family reunions; and vacations. Video and audio recordings of weddings and family reunions are also part of the collection.

Pam Trotter, initial collection processing intern, Spring 2014

When I first started the project, I began by reading documents on what the archiving process was and its importance. After that, I began looking through all of the boxes just to get a feel for the collection, a sort of overview. Next, I began to process photos and go through them one at a time, looking for dates and celebrations that they were taken at. After that, I took some time to do some research on Harold Williams and began to go through his biographical information. Next I made the box list, which was later reorganized. This to me was when things began to pick up momentum. This allowed me to see where I wanted the items in the boxes on paper and move them there before I moved the files around in the boxes. After this, I asked another student worked to help me organize the random newspaper clippings and help me to count photos. With this help, I was able to finish up the organization of those boxes.

I feel as though the quality of my work is high, I took careful consideration when looking through Harold Williams’s material. I made sure everything was as organized as possible. I learned a lot throughout this internship. I like the fact that it is mostly independent allows for a natural creativity of the collection.  The folders have been organized and reorganized by different people with different ideas on how they see the material allowing for well-rounded information that is easy to access. I now feel as though I have more of a background in what goes into research and were the sources of information come from in the biographies, papers and journals that I read.

I learned that the archival profession is a love for history as well as creating it. I was excited when I was handed raw history that hadn’t been organized yet, and was given the opportunity to help share the important things that Williams did to give back to the community and to the country. I learned how to work more closely with other people to gain insight into the project as well as a helping hand when it came to decision making. I learned that you can work hard and still find something interesting or learn something new every day.

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