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Williams, Mary Wilhelmine (1878–1944) - History of Latin America

american historical college california

Mary Wilhelmine Williams was born in Stanislaus County, California, on May 14, 1878, to Carl Wilhelm Salander (later Charles Williams) and Caroline Madsen. Her mother had been born in Denmark and her father in Sweden. She attended local schools and at eighteen went to the San Jose (California) State Normal School. She graduated in 1901, but was not able to attend college until three years later, when she gave up teaching to enter Stanford University. She received a B.A. degree three years later and an M.A. in 1908. She returned to teaching from 1908 to 1911 and studied at the University of Chicago during the summer. She traveled to Europe in 1911–1912 to research her doctoral dissertation at the Public Record Office in London. She became an instructor in history at Stanford and received a Ph.D. in 1914 with her dissertation, Anglo-American Isthmian Diplomacy, 1815–1915 , which was published in 1916. It won the Justin Winsor Prize of the American Historical Association. In 1914–1915 Williams became an instructor in history at Wellesley College. She then taught at Goucher College in Baltimore as assistant professor, associate professor (1919), and professor (1920).

Williams was responsible for forming the first collegiate course in Canadian history in the United States in 1916. While she contributed to the Dictionary of American Biography and wrote two books on Scandinavia, her specialty was Latin American history. She was on the board of editors of the Hispanic American Historical Review from 1927 to 1933 and was secretary of the Conference on Latin American History in 1928 and 1934. She also served on the American Historical Association’s executive council from 1922 to 1926. Her biographical sketch of John Middleton Clayton, who signed the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty for the Isthmian canal, appeared in Volume 6 of American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy in 1928. She published The People and Politics of Latin America , which became a standard work for college students, in 1930. Her biography Dom Pedro the Magnanimous, Second Emperor of Brazil (1937) was the first written on the subject in English.

From 1918 to 1919 Williams was a cartographic, geographic, and historical expert for the government of Honduras, and in 1926–1927 she completed a survey for the American Association of University Women in fifteen Latin American countries on their facilities for higher education for women. Aviator Charles A. Lindbergh consulted with Williams in 1928 before setting out on a tour of South America, and she was appointed by the State Department to serve on various committees on Latin American problems. She received a decoration from the Dominican government in 1940 recognizing her work furthering understanding between the two countries. Mary Williams retired in 1940 and died on March 10, 1944, in Palo Alto, California, of a stroke. Her ashes were buried in Alta Mesa, Palo Alto. Her grave is marked as she wished—"Teacher, Historian, Pacifist, Feminist."

Williams, Peter, Jr.(c. 1780–1840) - Minister, orator, writer, abolitionist, Organizes African American Episcopalians, Chronology [next] [back] Williams, Gregalan

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