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Guide to the Benjamin Lee Smith Papers, 1916-1961, bulk 1930-1961

Abstract

North Carolina educator and superintendent of public schools in Greensboro, N.C.

The papers of Benjamin Lee Smith, North Carolina educator and Duke University alumnus, span the years 1916-1961, and contain correspondence, memoranda, clippings, and other printed material related to public education at both the local and state levels in North Carolina. There are also several dozen photographs of N.C. school buildings and personnel, circa 1930s-1950s. Papers are arranged in the following series: Correspondence, Subject Files (the largest series in the collection), Clippings, Printed Material, and Speeches. Other topics include prohibition and the elections of 1928, and religion and politics in North Carolina. A small but significant amount of material concerns school integration in Greensboro and associated civil rights issues in North Carolina (located within boxes 10, 11, 14-16, 21, 24, 26 and 31). Collection also includes material on charitable organizations in which Smith was active, especially the Methodist Church, North Carolina Education Association (NCEA), Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts, and the Horace Mann League.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Smith, Benjamin Lee
Title
Benjamin Lee Smith papers, 1916-1961, bulk 1930-1961
Language of Material
English
Extent
12.4 Linear Feet, 9300 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The papers of Benjamin Lee Smith, North Carolina educator and Duke University alumnus, span the years 1916-1961, and contain correspondence, memoranda, clippings, and other printed material related to public education at both the local and state levels in North Carolina. There are also several dozen photographs of N.C. school buildings and personnel, circa 1930s-1950s. Papers are arranged in the following series: Correspondence, Subject Files (the largest series in the collection), Clippings, Printed Material, and Speeches. Other topics include prohibition and the elections of 1928, and religion and politics in North Carolina. A small but significant amount of material concerns school integration in Greensboro and associated civil rights issues in North Carolina (located within boxes 10, 11, 14-16, 21, 24, 26 and 31). Collection also includes material on charitable organizations in which Smith was active, especially the Methodist Church, North Carolina Education Association (NCEA), Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts, and the Horace Mann League.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Folders house incoming and outgoing correspondence generated over the course of Benjamin Smith's career as an educator. Many letters are routine exchanges such as letters of recommendation, requests for assistance, and invitations to speak. Arranged alphabetically; some letters may have more than one folder of materials. Individuals or topics represented by their own folders include: Dr. George Harley, the Palmer Memorial Institute, Susan Blair Smith, and Personal Correspondence.

Folders A-G
Box 1
Folders H-P
Box 2
Folders P-S
Box 3
Folders S-Z
Box 4

Houses files assembled by Smith on a variety of topics, chiefly related to associations with which he was involved, or events and activities of personal and professional interest. The largest two groups of files document the career and personal affairs of Benjamin Lee Smith, and selected activities and aspects of the Methodist Church. Other individuals or topics represented by a substantial group of folders include the Boy Scouts of America; the centennial celebration for public education; Duke University; Greensboro Public Schools; integration of schools in N.C.; and the North Carolina Education Association. Materials on the public school system of North Carolina and selected counties can be found scattered throughout the collection, particularly within boxes 10, 11, 14-16, 21, 24, 26 and 31. There is one folder containing several dozen exterior and interior photographs of N.C. public school buildings (most unidentified, but some in Shelby), circa 1930s-1950s, along with shots of school personnel; there are also photographs of Smith (circa 1899, 1916-1917, and circa 1958) included in his personal files. Arranged in alphabetical order as received, with original titles by Smith.

American Association of School Librarians
(3 folders)
Box 5
American Trails Pioneer Association
Box 5
Appalachian Summer School
Box 5
Architects
Box 5
Aycock Memorial
Box 5
Boy Scouts of America
(5 folders)
Box 5
Boy Scouts of America
(6 folders)
Box 6
Brooks School dedication
Box 6
Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission
Box 7
Centennial celebration of progress in public education in N.C.
(8 folders)
Box 7
Centennial celebration of progress in public education in N.C.
(8 folders)
Box 8
Centennial celebration of progress in public education in N.C.
(3 folders)
Box 9
Character education, courtesy
(3 folders)
Box 9
Christians and Jews, National Conference
(2 folders)
Box 9
Children
Box 9
Church
Box 9
Citizen Award and retirement letters
(3 folders)
Box 10
Commission on Civil Rights

[Contains material on integration]

Box 10
Conferences
(3 folders)
Box 10
Daniels, Josephus
Box 10
Declamations, debates
Box 10
Desegregation

[Contains material on integration]

(3 folders)
Box 11
Distribution of state funds
Box 11
Duke, centennial celebration of Normal College
(2 folders)
Box 11
Duke University, Loyalty Fund
(3 folders)
Box 11
Duke University
(7 folders)
Box 12
Duke University
(3 folders)
Box 13
Education
(4 folders)
Box 13
Educational theory
Box 13
English
Box 13
Foreign Service, Mary Blair Smith
Box 13
Good roads
Box 13
Greensboro War Memorial
Box 13
Greensboro Mission Society
Box 13
Greensboro Public Schools

[Contains material on integration]

(7 folders)
Box 14
Greensboro Public Schools

[Contains material on integration]

Box 15
Guilford College, Greensboro advisory board
Box 15
Harrell, Bishop Costen, My Son
Box 15
Historical miscellaneous materials, clippings
Box 15
Holidays
(2 folders)
Box 15
Hunter School
Box 15
Integration
(3 folders)
Box 15
Integration
(2 folders)
Box 16
Kiwanis Club
(2 folders)
Box 16
Legislation
(2 folders)
Box 16
Legislation
Box 17
Libraries
(3 folders)
Box 17
Littlejohn's Church
Box 17
Log schoolhouse preservation
Box 17
Lowder, Hurley C., A Father's Letter to his Soldier Son
Box 17
Methodist Church
(5 folders)
Box 17
Methodist Church
(9 folders)
Box 18
Methodist Church
(12 folders)
Box 19
Methodist Church
Box 20
Miscellany
(2 folders)
Box 20
Moral and spiritual values
(2 folders)
Box 20
Mount Grove dedication
Box 20
Nawakwa
Box 20
North Carolina
Box 20
North Carolina, Council of Churches
Box 20
North Carolina, Council of Churches
Box 21
North Carolina Education Association
(9 folders)
Box 21
North Carolina Education Association
(6 folders)
Box 22
North Carolina Public Schools
(3 folders)
Box 22
Older Boy's Conference
(2 folders)
Box 22
P.T.A.
Box 23
Pfeiffer College
(4 folders)
Box 23
Phi Beta Kappa
Box 23
Pictures, school buildings and personnel, "Shelby"

[Contains photographic materials, most unidentified; not all are of Shelby schools.]

Box 23
Poetry
Box 23
Prohibition, Al Smith versus Herbert Hoover [elections of 1928]
Box 23
Public versus private, Conant versus Polk
Box 23
Readings
Box 23
Reports
Box 23
Rittenhouse, Montreal, Canada, the school library
Box 24
Rutherford County
Box 24
Rutherfordton-Spindale Schools
Box 24
Schools - finance
(2 folders)
Box 24
Schools
(2 folders)
Box 24
Schools and Universities Committee
Box 24
Schools - Shelby, North Carolina
Box 24
Box 24
Segregation
Box 24
Smith, Benjamin Lee
(2 folders)
Box 24
Smith, Benjamin Lee

[Contains photographic materials]

(12 folders)
Box 25
Smith, Benjamin Lee

[Contains material on integration]

(4 folders)
Box 26
Southeastern Jurisdictional Council
Box 26
State School Commission, finance
Box 26
Superintendent's conference
Box 26
Supervised study
Box 26
Supplementary Election
Box 26
Supervisor-Teacher
Box 27
UNC
Box 27
United States
Box 27
George Washington
(2 folders)
Box 27
West Market Church
Box 27
Woodrow Wilson Memorial
Box 27
Youth Conservation
Box 27

Contains loose clippings chiefly regarding education and the school system in N.C.; the majority are from the Greensboro Daily News. Series also includes a number of issues of State School Facts, a bi-monthly publication from the state superintendent of public schools office. Organized in order received, roughly chronological.

1930s-1950s
(7 folders)
Box 27
1950s-1961
(13 folders)
Box 28
Clippings and quotations
(1 folder)
Box 28
State School Facts
(4 folders)
Oversize Box 29

Contains assorted materials which pertain to Benjamin Lee Smith's religious involvement and duties as superintendent of schools. In order as received.

Cities, promotional materials and Methodism
Box 30
Magazine excerpts
Box 30
Notes
(2 folders)
Box 30
Pamphlets and programs
(3 folders)
Box 30

Contains speeches primarily authored by Benjamin Lee Smith, some of which deal with issues from his years as superintendent of schools. Also included is an essay submitted as an undergraduate to the Braxton Craven Contest. Miscellaneous folders contain assorted topics, the majority of which pertain to education, character values, morality, and inspirational themes on American life. Arranged in alphabetical order by topic.

Education
(4 folders)
Box 31
Horace Mann League
Box 31
Integration
Box 31
Libraries
Box 31
Methodist Church
Box 31
Miscellaneous
(2 folders)
Box 31
Notes, from other's speeches
Box 31
Smith, Benjamin Lee, Public Education in the South Prior to 1860, Braxton Craven Contest
Box 31
Thirtieth anniversary of the chartering of the Rutherfordton Kiwanis Club
Box 31

Historical Note

Chronology List

DateEvent(s)
1893 Feb. 6Benjamin Lee Smith born, Granite Falls, Caldwell County, N.C.
1916A.B., Duke University
1916-1917Served in U.S. Army
1919-1924Superintendent of Schools, Forest City (N.C.)
1922-1934Taught summer school classes for Appalachian State Teachers College, N.C.
1924-1929Superintendent of Schools, Rutherfordton-Spindale
1925Served as secretary for the newly chartered Rutherfordton Kiwanis Club
1927-1934Member of NC Textbook Commission
1929-1934Superintendent of Schools, Shelby
1935-1958Superintendent of Schools, Greensboro
1937M.A., Duke University
1938-1939President, N.C. Education Association (NCEA)
1949-1950President, Horace Mann League of the U.S.
1958Retired from position as N.C. schools superintendent
1959Participated in National Civil Rights hearing on school integration
1961Year of death

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Benjamin Lee Smith Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Benjamin Lee Smith Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1961.

Processing Information

Processed by Ted Holt, February 2008

Encoded by Ted Holt, February 2008

Accession 68-238 is described in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.