Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Gertrude Smith letters

Abstract

The Gertrude Smith letters (dated 1943-1944; 0.04 cubic feet; 2 folders) comprise twenty letters that document the fundraising effort from Smith to colleagues and friends to pay an artist for crafting a portrait of classical languages professor, R.J. Bonner, in the midst of World War II.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Gertrude Smith letters
Creator
Smith, Gertrude (Gertrude Elizabeth), 1894-1985
Extent
0.04 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Education, Higher.
Fund raising.
Law, Greek
Letters.
University of Chicago
World War, 1939-1945.
Arrangement
Collection is arranged chronologically. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0140: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Gertrude Smith letters, 1943-1944, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Gertrude Elizabeth Smith (1894-1985) was born in Peoria, Illinois to James Almon Smith and Edith Mann Smith, the younger of two daughters. She initially studied at Bradley College from 1912-1914, before completing her B.A. at the University of Chicago in 1916, remaining there for her M.A. (1917) and PhD (summa cum laude) in 1921; her doctoral dissertation focused on Greek law, The Administration of Justice from Hesiod to Solon. Upon completion of her PhD, Smith joined the faculty in the Greek Department, serving as an instructor (1921-25), assistant professor (1925-30), associate professor (1930-33), and finally as Edwin Olson Professor of Greek from 1933 until her retirement in for the University of Chicago in 1961. In 1953, Smith received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Ripon College.
While working in the Greek Department as an educator, she was involved in the departmental administration as well. Smith was appointed acting chairman of the Greek Department in 1934 and by 1936, she was chairman of the department. In 1953, the Greek Department merged into the Classics Department, where she assumed chairmanship of the new department until her retirement. While chairman, the Greek and Classics Department at the University of Chicago was considered one of the largest and most important Greek/classics programs in the United States.
Additionally, Smith was involved in many professional associations; in 1924, she helped found the national Classics undergraduate honor society Eta Sigma Phi, in 1925, she joined the editorial board of Classical Philology (serving until 1965), and served as the first female president of both the Classical Association of Middle West and South (CAMWS) (1933-1934) and the American Philological Association (1958). Outside of her work for the University of Chicago and professional associations, she worked for the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (ASCSA). She was an annual professor in 1949-50 and directed the summer session three times. Smith also served on the Managing Committee for nearly fifty years as well as the Committee on Admissions and Fellowships, which she became chair of in 1945. For the work she did in encouraging students to participate in ASCSA and restoring the prestige of the school, she received the Royal Order of Beneficence from King Paul of Greece in 1957.
While Smith did not publish many works, her most notable publication is the two-volume work, The Administration of Justice from Homer to Aristotle, which she co-authored with her teacher and colleague Robert J. Bonner. This two-volume work is considered to be some of the most important and influential American work in the field of Greek law, and until the publication of The Law of Athens by A.R.W. Harrison it was the only comprehensive study of Athenian law in English.
While accomplishing this groundbreaking work in the study of Greek law and the Classics, Smith married Sam Lee Greenwood (1894-1977) in June 1940, who received his PhD from the University of Chicago and worked as a professor of Classics at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. Upon her retirement in 1961, Smith and Greenwood moved to Nashville, Tennessee where they spent the remainder of their lives together. Smith passed away May 10, 1985, and bequeathed $100,000 to ASCSA to ensure students received funding to attend the school well into the future and had her ashes be scattered on the Acropolis.
Sources:
Gagarin, M. (1996). Gertrude Elizabeth Smith (1894-1985). The Classical World, 90(2/3), 167-177. doi:10.2307/4351928
Rogers, D. (2016). Gertrude Smith: A Classic American Philhellene. From the Archivists Notebook. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://nataliavogeikoff.com/2016/08/01/gertrude-smith-a-classic-american-philhellene/
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Gertrude Smith letters (dated 1943-1944; 0.04 cubic feet; 2 folders) comprise twenty letters that document the fundraising effort from Smith to colleagues and friends to pay an artist for crafting a portrait of classical languages professor, R.J. Bonner, in the midst of World War II. The letters discuss contributions made to Smith for the portrait, the economic impact of the war, and how colleges and universities changed during wartime. Professors detailed how most of their students had become Navy enlistees and that they were teaching outside of their specialty areas to meet the current need and they were glad to do so as the enlistees kept their campuses open.
The Gertrude Smith letters are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access The collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Solicitation letters, 1943

  • Box 21, folder 3
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Solicitation letters, 1944

  • Box 21, folder 4
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For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

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