Willford I. King papers , 1912-1962

Overview of the Collection

King, Willford Isbell, 1880-1962
Willford I. King papers
1912-1962 (inclusive)
136.5 linear feet, (91 containers, 1 folder)
Collection Number
Coll 089
Willford Isbell King (1880-1962) was a professor of political economy, statistician with United States Public Health Service, and economist for the National Bureau of Economic Research. The collection contains correspondence, printed material written by King and others, organizational records for the Committee for Constitutional Government, and three book-length works.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Collective Name Index to the Research Collection of Conservative and Libertarian Studies for a cross-referenced index to names of correspondents in this collection, if any, and 37 related University of Oregon collections, including dates of correspondence. See index instructions on use.

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Willford Isbell King, a noted statistician, economist, and one-time chairmen of the Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc., was born in Cascade, Iowa in 1880. The son of a lawyer, King moved with his parents in April 1888, to the North Platte Valley area of Nebraska. There, Dr. King received his primary and secondary education from the local schoolhouse teachers. He enrolled at the University of Nebraska and graduated in 1905. Eventually he moved to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin where he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1913.

While working on his Ph.D., Dr. King began teaching courses on political economy. In 1917, he left for Washington, D.C. to assume a position of statistician with the United States Public Health Service. Dr. King left this position in 1920 to become the economist for the National Bureau of Economic Research, in Washington, D.C. In 1927, King moved to New York City to accept a professorship of economics at New York University; he remained there until 1945.

During the Depression years, Dr. King opposed the New Deal. Instead, he advocated a sliding scale of wages based on production, no government intervention in business, currency expansion, the reduction of taxes in upper brackets, and the abolition of all levies on incomes of corporations and from invested capital. In 1933, King founded the Committee on Economic Accord, which later produced The Handbook of Accepted Economics. By 1945, Dr. King had retired from his position at the University to become chairman of the Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc. King served as chairman, and later as advisor to the Committee, which sought to "uphold Constitutional principles and our system of free enterprise."

Willford King lived with his wife, Jane Elizabeth Patterson, and their three children, Harold J., Hugh P., and Floria Jane, in Douglaston, New York. Both of King's sons entered the fields of economics and statistics. Dr. Willford I. King died at his home on October 17, 1962, at the age of 82.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Willford I. King Papers contain correspondence, printed material written by King and others, organizational records for the Committee for Constitutional Government, and three book-length works.

The majority of the papers consist of chronologically arranged correspondence. There are approximately 20, 000 letters, spanning the years 1917 to 1962. The largest segment within this series occurs between 1943 and 1959, which includes the correspondence concerning the Committee for Constitutional Government and its members. A substantial amount of the Committee correspondence involves Dr. Edward A. Rumely, who, along with King, was a charter member. Other major correspondents include Robert Dresser, a lawyer from Providence, Rhode Island; Sumner Gerard, Treasurer for the Committee; Daniel Luten, an architect from Indiana; Guy Irving Birch and Robert C. Cook, of the Population Reference Bureau; Bart Saunders, a New York City businessman; and Samuel Pettengill, a congressman and writer from Indiana. Notable politicians who corresponded with Dr. King include Presidents Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower, then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and then-Senators Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy. Of particular note is a letter, February 23, 1950, from General Douglas MacArthur discussing the role of the United States in Japan with regard to birth control.

A smaller series of printed material follows and is primarily economic in nature. It has been divided into five sub-series reflecting the material's origin: writings by King; writings by other authors; Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc. publications, including runs of Paul Revere Messages and Spotlights for the Nation; Features for America's Future, Syndicated, which King co-authored with Ralph W. Gwinn; and press releases. All of the printed material has been filed in chronological order within each sub-series, except for that by other authors which has been arranged alphabetically according to the last name of the author of the work.

The Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc. series contains the group's financial records and papers relating to the Committee's organization. Among the financial materials are budget control reports, financial reports, operating statements and balance sheets, and reports on the publications distributed by the Committee all of which have been arranged chronologically within each type of record. Other documents include the constitution of the Committee; lists of trustees; notices, agendas, minutes of meetings, 1946-1953; and news clippings about the lawsuit, Dr. Edward A. Rumely vs. The Buchanan Committee.

Dr. King wrote a number of books during his career as an economist and statistician. Three of these works, The Small Loan Situation in New Jersey in 1929 (1929), Trends in Philanthropy (1928), and "The Valuation of Urban Realty for Purposes of Taxation" (1914) are included in the collection in the last box.

Three photographs are included in this collection: a Christmas card (1950s), a picture of Sameul Pettingill (1910s-1920s), and a picture of A.F. Davis, farmer, and family and Governor Lausche of Ohio (1951).

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Conservatism--Economic aspects
  • Debts, Public
  • Depressions--"1929"--United States
  • Economic councils
  • Economic development
  • Economic forecasting
  • Economic policy
  • Economic surveys
  • Economics
  • Economists--United States--Correspondence
  • Social policy
  • Welfare economics

Personal Names

  • Bullis, Harry A. (Harry Amos), 1890-1963
  • Byrd, Harry F. (Harry Flood), 1887-1966
  • Cook, Robert C. (Robert Carter), 1898-1991
  • Dresser, Robert B. (Robert Bartlett), 1880-1976
  • Ely, Richard T. (Richard Theodore), 1854-1943
  • Fertig, Lawrence
  • Fisher, Irving, 1867-1947
  • Gannett, Frank E. (Frank Ernest), 1876-1957
  • Gerard, Sumner
  • Gipson, James H.
  • Gwinn, Ralph W. (Ralph Waldo), 1884-1962
  • Hancock, Glen E.
  • Harper, F. A. (Floyd Arthur), 1905-1973
  • Kimmel, Joseph Stephen
  • King, Willford Isbell, 1880-1962
  • Kohlberg, Alfred, 1887-1960
  • Lombard, Norman
  • Luten, Daniel B., 1869-1946
  • MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964
  • Pettengill, Samuel B. (Samuel Berrett), 1886-1974
  • Rumely, Edward A. (Edward Aloysius), 1882-1964
  • Runyon, W. Cleveland
  • Saunders, Bart

Corporate Names

  • American Statistical Association
  • Committee for Constitutional Government
  • Committee for Economic Development
  • National Association of Manufacturers (U.S.)