Old photo showing people sitting at a roundtable event
Photograph courtesy of Williams Archives

Each summer from 1921 to 1932, a who’s who of influential scholars and politicians gathered at Williams for a monthlong symposium on the issues of the day. The Williamstown Institute of Politics and its founder, Williams President Harry A. Garfield, Class of 1885, are the subject of a new book by James McAllister, the Fred Greene Third Century Professor of Political Science.

In Wilsonian Visions: The Williamstown Institute of Politics and American Internationalism after the First World War (Cornell University Press), McAllister examines the institute’s global reach and its roots in the intellectual and political relationship between Garfield and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The institute became a model for similar programs such as the University of Virginia’s Institute of Public Affairs and the Geneva Institute of International Relations.

McAllister began researching the book in 1998, combing through previously unprocessed records from Williams’ archives. Reviewers call the book “eminently readable and deeply researched” and “an overdue and necessary exploration.” Says Katherine A.S. Sibley of Saint Joseph’s University, “The questions that animated the discussions at the Williamstown Institute of Politics continue to shape our public life today.”

See more books from our community on the Williams Bookshelf.


Photo caption: One of the few existing photographs of a Roundtable Conference in action was taken at a 1922 Williamstown Institute of Politics session on international commerce. Photograph courtesy of Williams Archives.