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New digital exhibition on "Great Society" architect, US Senator Harrison Williams

July 24, 2014
Photograph of Senator Harrison Williams receiving a petition from the Princeton, NJ, area in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. From the 'Social Justice' webpage, in the "Crossroads" digital exhibition.

Photograph of Senator Harrison Williams receiving a petition from the Princeton, NJ, area in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. From the 'Social Justice' webpage, in the "Crossroads" digital exhibition.

When United States Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson envisioned and pursued legislation to create a "Great Society" built on social justice, broad educational access, increased economic opportunities, a vigorous environmentalism, and other values, one of their most steadfast allies was a US Senator from New Jersey, Harrison A. ( "Pete" ) Williams, Jr.  A new digital exhibition on the Rutgers University Libraries website highlights Senator Williams' influential work on the Great Society and the vital causes he advanced during two and a half decades in the US Senate.

"Crossroads: Harrison A. Williams, Jr. and Great Society Liberalism" provides a biographical overview of the government service of Senator Williams and of his legislative work in ten areas—the arts, business regulation, community action, education, the elderly, health, labor, metropolitan affairs, migratory labor, and social justice. The exhibition displays historically significant photos and documents that richly illustrate Senator Williams' leadership in and deep commitment to the principles of liberalism.

The "Crossroads" website is built on the research and materials featured in a physical exhibition of the same name, which was held in the galleries of Special Collections and University Archives in spring 2009. The collected papers of Senator Williams are held by Special Collections and a finding aid is available at: http://www2.scc.rutgers.edu/ead/manuscripts/williams01f.html

The Libraries are grateful to Jeanette Williams, wife of the late senator, for her generous support of the creation of this website. We also thank former US Congressman and Ambassador William J. Hughes; James Grogan, General President, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers; and Williams´ aide and friend, John Molinari, along with many family, friends, and former staff members who provided support to efforts to preserve and publicize the groundbreaking efforts of Senator Williams. Larry Weimer served as curator of both the original exhibition in 2009 and the digital version. The project manager of the digital exhibition is Special Collections and University Archives Digital Archivist Caryn Radick.

To view the "Crossroads" exhibition, go to:
http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/exhibits/crossroads/