WILLIAMS, WHITING (11 Mar. 1878-14 Apr. 1975), author and lecturer on labor and management problems, was born in Shelby, Ohio to Benjamin J. and Ida Whiting Williams, graduated from Oberlin College (1899) and studied at the University of Berlin (1899-1900) and University of Chicago (1900-01) before managing the Bureau of University Travel (1901-04). He became the Assistant to the President at Oberlin College (1904-12), while earning a master's degree in 1909. In 1913, Williams moved to Cleveland as executive secretary of the Fed. for Charity & Philanthropy, pioneer of more than 2,400 United Appeals. He left in 1918 to become Vice President and Personnel Director of Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co.

In 1920 Williams took a leave of absence to study firsthand the working conditions in various countries and workers' attitudes. Speaking French, German, Spanish, and Italian, he worked as a laborer in coal mines, railroad shops, shipyards, and oil refineries under an assumed name in the U.S., Europe, and Central and South America. He lectured and wrote books such as What's on the Worker's Mind, By One Who Put On Coveralls to Find Out (1920), Full Up and Fed Up (1921), Horny Hands and Hampered Elbows (1922), and Mainsprings of Men (1925). Williams became a consultant on labor relations, personnel management, and public relations for several large businesses and lectured, until he retired at age 90, about his experiences for such graduate schools as Harvard, Dartmouth, and CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. In 1940, he became a member of the Natl. Panel of Arbitrators. He was a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., and the UNION CLUB of Cleveland. In Cleveland, he was a trustee of both HIRAM HOUSE and the School of Art (see CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART). Williams married Caroline Harter in 1906 (d. 1938); they had two children, Carol R. and Harter Whiting. In 1941 he married Dorothy Rogers. Williams was buried in Shelby, OH.

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

View finding aid for the Whiting Williams Papers, Series I, WRHS.

View finding aid for the Whiting Williams Papers, Series II, WRHS. 

Wren, Daniel A. White Collar Hobo: The Travels of Whiting Williams (1987).

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