After receiving degrees simultaneously from Kalamazoo College and the University of Chicago, M.O. Williams spent a few years teaching at what later became the American University in Beirut. He then worked as a Baptist missionary teacher in Hangchow, China. Hired in 1919 as the Society's first field correspondent, Williams, the first chief of the foreign editorial staff, wrote and photographed some hundred stories before his 1953 retirement. Roaming Europe, the Near East, the far reaches of Asia, even the Arctic, and the Americas, he preferred cultivating "friendship, not adventure" - although he had plenty of both. While at the Society, he participated in the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt in 1923, National Geographic's MacMillan Arctic Expedition in 1925, and the French Citroën-Haardt Expedition crossing Asia by motor car in 1931-1932 (see lot 80).