Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Burgess, William, 1857-1929
William Burgess Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1908-1929 (mostly 1921-1925)
13 boxes and 2 items
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-13


William Burgess (1857-1929) was a prominent lobbyist and figure in the United States pottery industry around the turn of the century. The William Burgess Papers document Burgess' tenure on the U.S. Tariff Commission.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The William Burgess Papers document Burgess' tenure on the U.S. Tariff Commission. Included are correspondence, memoranda, reports, charts, and graphs, all compiled while Burgess was a member of the Tariff Commission. The material includes details on the inter-workings of numerous industries and the establishment of tariffs on imports including butter, china, fabrics, metals, pottery, and sugar, as well as documents related to general tariff legislation.

Please see series descriptions in contents list for additional information about individual series.

Collection Creator Biography:

Burgess, William, 1857-1929

William Burgess (1857-1929) was a prominent lobbyist and figure in the United States pottery industry around the turn of the century. Burgess was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 18, 1857. He received a B.S. from Princeton in 1877 after which he enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, initially planning on pursuing a career in medicine. He was forced to leave medical school after becoming seriously ill. He then chose to enter the family business of pottery importing and wholesaling, establishing William Burgess and Company in 1879. He moved his operation to Trenton, New Jersey shortly thereafter, establishing the International Pottery Company. The International Pottery Company quickly became one of the leading manufacturers of pottery in the United States. Burgess served as president from 1879-1904. After resigning from the International Pottery Company, Burgess became Chairman of the Executive Committee and confidential representative of the U.S. Potters Association. During this time, Burgess traveled across Europe and Asia studying the international pottery industry. He eventually became the President of the Potters Association. This position required him to make frequent trips to Washington, D.C. to lobby on behalf of the pottery industry. His high profile in the industry and his international experience ultimately resulted in his being appointed to the U.S. Tariff Commission by President Warren G. Harding in 1921. The Commission was responsible for gathering and analyzing data on imports while reporting and making recommendations to the President and Congress. While on the Commission, Burgess earned the reputation as a high tariff advocate. He resigned his post in 1925 after a particularly contentious disagreement within the commission.

Burgess married Clara Dwight Goodmann in 1879. They had four children together. Burgess died on November 20, 1929.

Collection History


The collection was donated by William Burgess, Jr. on March 9, 1942 .


No material was separated during processing in 2007.


These papers were processed with an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Casey Babcock in November 2007. Finding aid written by Casey Babcock in December 2007.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

William Burgess Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-13

Find More

Related Materials

Other material at the Mudd Manuscript Library relating to the United States Tariff Commission can be found in the Leland H. Jenks Papers (MC213) and the Prentice N. Dean Papers (MC207).


Material within the University Archives, most notably William Burgess' alumni file, provided the information for the biography.

Subject Terms:
Chemists -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Commodity control -- United States -- 20th century.
Customs administration -- United States -- 20th century.
Limoges porcelain.
Porcelain -- United States -- 20th century.
Pottery industry -- Japan -- 20th century.
Pottery industry -- United States -- 20th century.
Tariff -- United States -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
United States. Tariff Commission
International Pottery Company