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Rev. Joseph J. Williams, S.J. Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC156-WILL

Scope and Contents

This collection mostly contains correspondence and research completed by Fr. Williams. Also included are manuscript copies of books written by him as well as a scrapbook documenting the publicity of his book, Hebrewisms of West Africa. Materials mostly date from the 1920s and 1930s but there are some 17th and 18th century records collected by Fr. Williams during the course of his work. Additionally, there are a few items pertaining to his work that were created aftert his death by 1940.


  • circa 1600 - 1991

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Materials believed to be under copyright or other restrictions are available for limited noncommercial, educational and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States copyright law and with proper citation. Please note that the College of the Holy Cross may not hold the rights to all items in this collection. Users assume responsibility for identifying all copyright holders and for determining whether permission is needed to make any use of the content. For permission under rights held by the College, please contact

Biographical Note

Rev. Joseph J. Williams, S.J. (1875 – 1940) was born on December 1, 1875 in Boston, Massachusetts. After one year at Boston College, Fr. Williams joined the Society of Jesus at Fredrick, Maryland in 1893 and was ordained in 1907. His interest in anthropology was sparked through missionary work in Jamaica from 1912 to 1918. Throughout his career, ce researched Jamaican and African culture and wrote many books on the topics of African religious roots. Fr. Williams also established an ethnological library containing an African collection which was considered the best in the Western Hemisphere.

Fr. Williams returned to the United States in 1918 and began teaching at Woodstock College and the College of the Holy Cross. In 1932, he became an lecturer at Boston College and founded its Anthropology Department. Fr. Williams died in the Shadowbrook novitiate in 1940.


2.89 Cubic Feet (6 document boxes, 1 flat box, 1 postcard box)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Note

The source of acquisition is unknown.

Related Materials

Williams Ethnological Collection (MS.2009.030) held by the John J. Burns Library of Boston College.
Williams, Joseph J. Whence the "black Irish" of Jamaica? New York: L. MacVeagh, Dial press, inc., 1932. (F1896.I6 W7)
Williams, Joseph J. Hebrewisms of West Africa: From Nile to Niger With the Jews. New York, Toronto: L. MacVeagh, The Dial Press; Longmans, Green & Co., 1930. (DS135.A2 W7)
Williams, Joseph J. Voodoos and Obeahs: Phases of West India Witchcraft. New York: L. MacVeagh, Dial Press inc., 1932. ( BF1584.W5 W7)

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Revised November 2022

Repository Details

Part of the Distinctive Collections Repository

One College Street
Worcester MA 01610