“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Each day for the next three weeks at noon, I will quote selected portions of the interview and provide comments. What do you want to know about Williams history? Ask your questions in the comments.

John Chandler: As all of us know, we are going to be dealing principally with presidents of Williams, starting with Paul Ansel Chadbourne, who succeeded Mark Hopkins, and moving forward through Tyler Dennett. Perhaps first we ought to explain the inspiration for our meeting and for the interview format with which we are going to explore those Williams presidents. Fred had at one time intended a sequel to his Mark Hopkins book and in fact had spent many years of research on the post-Hopkins years. He had especially explored student life, faculty development, and trustee influence. One of the results of that research was his bicentennial essay, “Williams College 1793-1993: Three Eras, Three Cultures,” which has been included as an appendix in the 1996 edition of Mark Hopkins and the Log. A particular stimulus for this morning’s gathering was provided by Steve Lewis ’60, a former Williams economics professor who became president of Carleton. Steve asked me whether there was some way to take advantage of Fred’s understanding of this era. Fred, would you like to add any words about the book you didn’t write?

Fred Rudolph: Let it be said that the Williams archives possess the evidence of how far that project went—boxes of notes, folders of Xeroxed documents, extensive bibliographical intentions.

There is an amazing senior thesis to be written about this era at Williams. Who will write it? If you are a history major with a desire to a) Spend a summer at Williams doing some preliminary research and b) Have 100+ people read your thesis, then this is the topic for you. The vast majority of Williams theses are never read by anyone other than the adviser. Write about the history of Wiliams, and your words will live for decades.

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