Alfred H. Williams, one of the longest-tenured presidents of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, served from 1941 until 1958.
Williams was born in Horatio, Pennsylvania, in 1893. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance and Commerce with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1915 and earned a master's degree the following year.
After serving as an army ordnance officer in World War I, Williams returned to Penn, and earned a doctorate degree in 1924. He chaired the Wharton School's Geography and Industry Department and its Curriculum Committee prior to being named dean in 1939. That same year he joined the Philadelphia Fed as a Class C member of the board of directors. In 1940, he was elected deputy chairman of the board.
Williams' tenure as dean of the Wharton School lasted only two years, as he left to assume the presidency of the Philadelphia Fed in 1941. While at the helm of the Reserve Bank, he played a pivotal role in establishing stronger ties between the Reserve Bank and its region. He was instrumental in revamping the Federal Reserve Relations Committee, consisting of representatives of regional banking groups and officers of the state banking associations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. He also set up a series of Field Conferences, meetings between Reserve Bank representatives and commercial bank officers and directors at which the participants discussed matters of mutual interest.
As president, Williams also oversaw the issuing of war savings bonds to raise funds to help finance US involvement in World War II, one of the largest operations the Federal Reserve System had ever conducted.
After serving as president of the Philadelphia Fed for seventeen years, Williams retired in 1958. He remained active in several academic and charitable organizations, serving on the board of trustees at both Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University) and Swarthmore College as well as on the board of the Samuel S. Fels Fund.
Williams died in 1974.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. See disclaimer.