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William J. Walls Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: Apr 1999

Biographical History

Bishop William J. Walls, African American churchman and author, graduated from Livingstone College and Hood Seminary. He did graduate work at Columbia University, and received an advanced degree from the University of Chicago.

Walls was an active member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, originally formed in 1796 in New York City in response to discrimination against blacks in the regular Methodist Church. Walls' home congregation was Thomas Memorial AME Zion in Watertown, New York, long known as an anti-slavery church; notable members included Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Katherine Harris,Jermaine Loguen, and Frederick Douglass.

Among his other duties, Walls served as senior bishop and secretary of the Board of Bishops and as chairman of the Board of Christian Education, Home and Church, and participated in Christian Education conventions on the denominational, national, international, and world levels. He was a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, the executive committee of the World Council of Methodism, and the General Assembly and General Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ, and was the ecumenical spokesman for Zion Methodism.

In addition to his church activities, Wall was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving on the Board of Directors and as vice president. He also found time to write, producing a biography of Joseph Charles Price, founder and first president of Livingstone College, and a definitive history of AME Zion entitled The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: Reality of the Black Church (1974).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William J. Walls Papers consists of correspondence-subject files and two later additions which have not been integrated. Correspondence-subject files are subdivided chronologically. 1981 additions consists of books, correspondence, clippings, personal memorabilia (will, etc) and writings, as well as more than fifty years of the Official Journals of the Zion Church. 1983 additions consists of a single typescript for Prophets of Freedom by Bishop W.J. Walls.

Arrangement of the Collection

Files are arranged chronologically and within that alphabetically (with some aberrations). Note that box numbers are not unique; please specify accession and box number when requesting items.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Walls, William Jacob, 1885-1975.

Corporate Bodies

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church -- Clergy.
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.


African American Methodists.
African American clergy.
African Americans -- Biography.
Clergy -- United States.
Methodists -- United States.
Sermons, American.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William J. Walls Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Correspondence-subject files ca. 1958

Correspondence-subject files ca. 1959-1960

Correspondence-subject files ca. 1961-1963

Correspondence-subject files ca. 1964

Correspondence-subject files ca. 1969

1981 additions

1983 additions