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Alfred E. Smith Papers

Identifier: MC 697

Scope and Content Note

The papers include personal and professional correspondence, reports, speeches, and press releases written by Smith while in government service, copies of many of Smith's columns and articles, material concerning the Capitol Press Club, photographs, and other items.

Significant correspondents include:

Mary McLeod Bethune

Hattie Caraway

Kenneth Clark

W. Montague Cobb

W. E. B. DuBois

Langston Hughes

Alain Locke

Drew Pearson

Joe T. Robinson

Willard Wirtz


  • Creation: 1920-1984


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on December 2, 1903, Alfred E. Smith left his home town at the age of seventeen to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1932, Howard University awarded Smith a master's degree in history, and for the following year he worked as a substitute teacher in the Washington public schools. He then joined the Federal Works Progress Administration, beginning a life-long career in public service.

Smith began his tenure in government as Assistant to the Director of Negro Works, Federal Emergency Relief Administration. From 1935 to 1943 he was Administrative Assistant and Staff Advisor, Federal Works Progress Administration. In these positions, Smith acted as a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet" -- an unofficial group of black individuals in the upper reaches of the federal bureaucracy who advised President Roosevelt on policies affecting black Americans.

Smith's later career included public relations, speech writing, and press advisory positions for the Public Housing Authority, the Federal Civil Defense Agency, and the Department of Labor. He also established an independent career as a successful journalist. During the 1940s, Smith wrote two regular columns for the Chicago Defender newspaper, edited a Washington based newsletter, and contributed articles to various publications.

Smith's other professional activities included founding the Capitol Press Club, an organization of Washington based black journalists. He was also active in various civil rights organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League, and formed a social group called the Gourmet Club. These interests brought Smith into contact with many of the black leaders of his day, and produced friendships with a broad range of individuals including the poet Langston Hughes, Dean of the Howard University Medical School, W. Montague Cobb, psychologist Kenneth Clark, and writer Alain Locke. Smith retired from government service in 1974, and died May 26, 1986.


11.25 Linear Feet (12 Boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Material is arranged and described in four series.

  1. Series 1. Government Service.
  2. Series 1. Subseries 1. Works Progress Administration.
  3. Series 1. Subseries 2. Federal Civil Defense Agency.
  4. Series 1. Subseries 3. Public Housing Administration.
  5. Series 1. Subseries 4. Department of Labor.
  6. Series 2. Non-Governmental Professional Activities.
  7. Series 2. Subseries 1. The "National Grapevine".
  8. Series 2. Subseries 2. The Manuscript.
  9. Series 2. Subseries 3. Adventures in Race Relations.
  10. Series 2. Subseries 4. Other writings.
  11. Series 2. Subseries 5. Material pertaining to the Capitol Press Club, and one Folder concerning other professional organizations.
  12. Series 3. Personal and Social Activities.
  13. Series 3. Subseries 1. Personal Correspondence.
  14. Series 3. Subseries 2. Personal Papers.
  15. Series 3. Subseries 3. Clippings.
  16. Series 4. Photographs.

Acquisition Information

The Alfred E. Smith Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department by his wife, Lula J. Smith of Washington, D.C. on April 22, 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Leon C. Miller; completed in November 1987

Alfred E. Smith Papers
Leon C. Miller
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444