This collection contains photographs, contracts, sales catalogs and other items pertaining to the Williams Furniture Company of Sumter, S.C. and its consolidated corporations. From 1932 to 2004, the Williams Furniture Company was a unionized plant located in Sumter, S.C. which produced furniture and related wood products for the national market. The company operated under multiple ownership groups, initially owned by founder and namesake O.L. Williams, who operated the Williams Furniture Company alongside a number of subsidiaries including the Sumter Veneer Company, Conway Veneer Company, O.L. Williams Veneer Company, The Veneer Manufacturing Company, Russellville Lumber Company, Williams Plantations, Tupelo Dimension Company and the National Plywood Company. The collection includes a large number of financial records, business correspondence, and tax records for Williams as well as these assorted companies. Along with owning multiple companies across South Carolina O.L. Williams and his companies owned thousands of acres of land across the Carolinas to supply their companies with a steady stream of timber. The collection contains hundreds of contract agreements and various plats of these tracts of land owned by Williams as well as suits, timber estimates, and correspondence relating to timber cutting on these lands.
O.L. Williams led these companies until his death in 1952, upon which it was managed by an inner circle consisting of members of the Williams, Brice and Edwards families who later sold the company to the Portland-based conglomerate Georgia-Pacific in 1967. Georgia Pacific owned the Williams Furniture Corporation until 1983, upon which it was sold to Turner Furniture Companies, who later sold to Vaughn Bassett who eventually closed the Sumter plant permanently in 2004.
Williams Furniture Company’s catalogue included contemporary suites of bedroom, living room, and kitchen furniture, many of which were designed by famed designers Charles Horton and Marie Kirkpatrick. The collection contains photographs of hundreds of pieces manufactured by Williams between the 1950s and 1980s, with catalogues, brochures, and other promotional materials included as well as order forms and specification build sheets for those physically constructing the furniture.
Workers at the company came primarily from the Sumter area, with Williams providing the area with hundreds of jobs. Within the collection are a number of contracts, job descriptions and organizational charts which provide insight into the nature of employment at Williams. Photographs in the collection highlight multiple award ceremonies and recognition of worker achievements as well as numerous celebrations of accomplished workers and retirees.
This project represents a collaborative effort between the Sumter County Museum in Sumter, S.C., the University of South Carolina History department, and the University of South Carolina Libraries.