Brigham Young University Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Frederick Williams

  Office: 3164 JFSB
  Phone: 422-3124

Office Hours:



Spring 2007MWF 3-3:50pm

Mozambique Study Abroad



Frederick G. Williams, Gerrit de Jong, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies, is a direct descendant and name-sake of the Prophet Joseph Smith's counselor in the First Presidency. He was born March 31, 1940 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while his parents were serving there as mission presidents. His father, Frederick S. Williams, had been one of the first missionaries called to the South American Mission in 1927. Young Williams accompanied his parents and four sisters on other assignments living abroad, first in Venezuela and then Uruguay while his father was manager of the U.S. State Department's Institute of Inter-American Affairs, Health and Sanitation Division. In between these foreign residencies, the Williams lived in Arizona and California. In 1947 the elder Williams was called to open the Uruguayan Mission, and still later, after living in Downey, California, and serving as the first president of the Los Angeles Temple Mission, he took his family to Lima where he was the Manager of TAPSA, a Peruvian registered airline, and called as president of the first branch of the Church organized on the Pacific coast of South America.

Young Fred grew up bilingual, Spanish-English, and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Lima. He worked for a year on the airline in Peru, then attended BYU for two years, where he played piano in a dance band, trumpet in the marching band, and baritone horn in the symphonic band. He then served a mission to Brazil where he learned Portuguese. After his mission he attended California State University, Los Angeles and mid-way through his junior year, courted (by playing his guitar and singing duets) and then married Carol Y. Brashear in the Los Angeles Temple in 1964. Carol is a professionally trained coloratura lyric soprano who graduated in voice performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with additional studies at UCLA, the Music Academy of the West, and the Royal College of Music in London. In January of 2000 Carol joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They are the parents of seven children: Frederick G. Williams, IV, Yvonne R. Cummings, Christopher S. Williams, Warren M. Williams, Alexis C. Lishman, Jonathan K. Williams and Violet C. Williams.

The young Williams couple transferred to BYU where Fred continued to play the piano in dance bands, served as the Portuguese Zone Counselor of the Language Training Mission, and graduated in 1965 in Hispanic Civilization. He began his graduate studies in Portuguese with Dr. Gerrit de Jong, Jr. at BYU before transferring to the University of Wisconsin in 1966. There he was awarded both the MA (1967) and Ph.D. (1971) in Portuguese with a minor in Spanish where his mentor was famed Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena. In Wisconsin, besides caring for their three children, Carol sang with the Madison Civic Opera Company while Fred served for a time as Institute Director and taught CES courses, did research on his illustrious ancestor, which was published in BYU Studies, and continued to play the piano at various resorts.

Upon his graduation, Brother Williams was professor for two years at UCLA, served for a year as the Curriculum Consultant Specialist for the federally funded NDEA Portuguese Bilingual Program of the ABC School district in Artesia, California (which catered to the Azorean communities of the state), and then, beginning in 1974, became professor of Portuguese at the University of California, Santa Barbara campus (to which Jorge de Sena had moved) where he remained for the next 25 years. During that period he served for 7 years as Chairman of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, 4 years as Inaugural Director of the Jorge de Sena Center for Portuguese Studies (begun with an endowment of $450,000 from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon, Portugal), 5 years as Chairman of the Interuniversity Studies Program (a consortium of American universities who send students to study at the University of São Paulo), Chairman of the UC systemwide Language Committee, and 15 years as Director of the Summer Institute in Portuguese at UCSB. He also served for a year as Director of the University of California Study Center at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, and, most challenging and satisfying of all, he and his wife were called in 1991 to open and preside over the São Paulo Interlagos Mission of the LDS Church. Other Church callings during that time include serving as bishop on two different occasions in two different wards, and as president of the Spanish-speaking branch in the Santa Barbara Stake. In addition, for 5 years he served as Institute Director in Santa Barbara and for 20 years regularly taught CES classes in both English and Spanish.

Since coming to BYU he has served on the Advisory Board of BYU Studies and of the Kennedy Center's International Studies Programs. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Kennedy Center and directed a BYU volunteer academic/service program in Mozambique during the summer term of 2000, where he taught Mozambican literature and participated in food and clothing distribution for the refugees of the devastating East African floods of February and March of 2000.

Professor Williams' research interests have been Luso-Afro-Brazilian literatures and cultures, poetry translation, and Mormon Studies. His major publication focus has been 19th c. Brazilian poet Sousândrade (for his publications, Williams has been awarded medals by the Governor of the State and by the Federal University of Maranhão, elected to the Maranhão Academy of Letter and granted honorary citizenship), and 20th c. Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena, his former mentor and then colleague. Williams has also published a monograph on Portugal's premier poet Luís Vaz de Camões and edited a volume on Brazil's leading Modernist poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade. He collaborated with his father on a history of the Church in South America, edited and wrote several of the chapters on a history of the Church in Santa Barbara, and has published two volumes of his own poetry. To date, in addition to over 30 scholarly articles, he has published 14 volumes, to wit.:


Sousândrade: Vida e Obra (São Luís: SIOGE, 1976), 277 p.

From Acorn to Oak Tree, A Personal History of the Establishment and First Quarter Century Development of the South American Missions, co-authored with Frederick S. Williams, Fullerton, CA: Et Cetera, Et Cetera Graphics, 1987, 375 p.

Camões: "The lover into the beloved object is transformed;" A concise overview of the principal systems influencing the concept of love in the 1500s and a study of the sonnet itself, Lisbon & Paris: Arquivos do Centro Cultural Português, vol. XXIX: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1991, 122 p.

Una Bibliografia Cronológica de Jorge de Sena (1939-1994), co-authored with Jorge Fazenda Lourenço, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional-Casa de Moeda, 1994, 255 p.


Sousândrade: Inéditos, co-edited with Jomar Moraes, São Luís: SIOGE,1971, 231 p.

Sousândrade: Prosa, co-edited with Jomar Moraes, São Luís: SIOGE,1978, 187 p.

Studies on Jorge de Sena by His Colleagues and Friends, Proceedings of the conference, co-edited with Harvey L. Sharrer, Santa Barbara: Jorge de Sena Center for Portuguese Studies, 1981, 275 p.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade and His Generation, Proceedings of the conference, co-edited with Sérgio Pachá, Santa Barbara: Jorge de Sena Center for Portuguese Studies, 1986, 241 p.

O Amor das Letras e das Gentes, Volume in Honor of Maria de Lourdes Belchior Pontes, co-edited with João Camilo dos Santos, Santa Barbara: Center for Portuguese Studies, 1995, 500 p.

Santa Barbara Saints: A Sesquicentennial History of Mormons in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara: S. Derrin Watson, 1997, 408 p.


The Poetry of Jorge de Sena, A Bilingual Selection, Santa Barbara: Mudborn Press,1980, 320 p.

Toada da Vida e Outros Poemas, Life's Refrain and Other Poems by José Rangel, Goa & Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Indo-Portugueses Voicuntrao Dempo & Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1992, 114 p.


From Those Who Wrote (Poems and Translations), São Luís: SIOGE, 1975, 83 p.

Perceptions (Poems), São Luís: SIOGE, 1985, 80 p.


Brazil's Finest Poets / Os Melhores Poetas do Brazil, A Bilingual Selection, Introduction, translations and notes by Frederick G. Williams, São Salvador, Bahia & Provo, Utah: Universidade Federal da Bahia & BYU Press.

Return to Faculty Page