James Williams

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(January 24, 1904 – March 22, 1953)

James A. Williams was a prominent Philadelphia fan and rare-book collector and seller. He was selected to chair Philcon II, the 1953 Worldcon. When he died at the age of 49, Milton Rothman, co-founder of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Chair of the first Philadelphia Worldcon (Philcon) was selected as his successor.

Williams also served as a President of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. He published Fantasy News Letter.

Williams was originally a rare book collector. He moved to Philadelphia from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he had operated a bookstore. Once he arrived, he operated three bookstores in the Philadelphia area. Along with Oswald Train, he also founded Prime Press, a publisher of science fiction and fantasy, which focused on writers from the Philadelphia area or in associated with PSFS. He also served as first secretary of the Antiquarian Booksellers of Philadelphia.

For more than twenty years, Williams was a cataloguer and appraiser for the Samuel T. Freeman & Co. auction company.

The Williams home sometimes hosted parties where fans and pros were in attendance. Some of those guests were Isaac Asimov and George O. Smith. George O. Smith was known to take out a typewriter at parties and write a manuscript which he would submit without revision to publishers.

Williams was briefly married when he lived in Colorado; unclear if he was divorced or if his first wife died. He later married Margaret Evans in the late 1920s after he'd moved to Philadelphia. Their daughter, Allison Phillips, later served as President of PSFS. Margaret died when Allison was three.

Jim later marred Marion Perlmutter (Marion’s nephew was Norris Gelman, a well-known mob lawyer who defended Ira Einhorn.) They had a daughter named Joan when Allison was 10. Joan grew up around the gang of fans that were always at Jim’s place. Unlike her sister, Joan had little interest in fandom.

Allison married Alexander Phillips, a published author who also became a PSFS President. The family tradition of fannish involvement continued with one of his granddaughters, Margaret Trebing, the daughter of Allison and Alexander Phillips, who also became a PSFS officer.

Person 19041953
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