Home Digital Collections Special Collections and Archives Finding Aids

Charles Lee Smith Papers

Finding Aid & Inventory

The papers of Charles Lee Smith, Wake Forest College alumnus, UNC Board of Trustee Member, Edwards and Broughton president, and Wake Forest donor. The collection include correspondence with Lady Maureen Watson (wife of Sir John Willliam Watson) ranging from the years 1939-1941, Richard T. Ely (American economist, author, and leader of the Progressive movement), and others. His work with Wake Forest, Chapel Hill, and Johns Hopkins is documented along with printed materials of Smith's interests and events attended. A letter written in April, 1924 accounts Smith's visit with Mahatma Gandhi. The collection also contains clippings related to Gandhi at that time.

Biographical and Historical Note

Charles Lee Smith was born on August 29, 1865 in Wilton, North Carolina in Granville County. His father, Dr. Louis Turner Smith, a physician was married to his mother, Miss Nannie Green Howell. In 1875 the Smith family moved to Durham where Dr. Smith gained a large practice as physician and surgeon and established business interests. Charles Lee entered the Buchanan School of which Luther T. Buchanan, a graduate of Wake Forest College, was principal with Charles D McIver, a recent graduate of te University of North Carolina, as one of his teachers.

In January, 1882, he entered Wake Forest College as a sophomore. His intention was to study law. Joining the Philomathesian Literary Society, young Smith threw himself into its activities to obtain the maximum practice in speaking. It was the prominence which he won in the Society that helped turn him from the law. In recognition of his skill in the use of language, the Society in 1883 elected him as the senior editor of The Wake Forest Student, the literary magazine which had been established in the month Smith entered college; thus he became co-editor of the third volume. After graduating from Wake Forest College in june, 1884, Smith taught at the Raleigh Male Academy, was a member of the editorial staff at the  Biblical Recorder and became a student in the Department of History and Politics in the Johns Hopkins University. His studies continued in 1888 in Germany at the University of Halle, and returned to Johns Hopkins where the Ph.D. was conferred upon him in 1889.

Continuing his work in academia, Smith stayed at Hopkins as instructor in history and lecturer in sociology. On October 24, 1889, he was married at High Point, N.C., to Miss Sallie Lindsay Jones. In the Summer of 1905 the board of trustees of Mercer University, Baptist College of Georgia, unanimously elected Dr. Smith president of that institution. It was a forward-looking and ambitious program which he had for Mercer, but Georgia Baptists were not yet ready for it. Before the first scholastic year was out it was evident that Dr. Smith was far ahead of his constituency. He resigned after one year. By 1915, Dr. Smith had become the president of Edwards and Broughton, a Raleigh printing and publishing house with a superior reputation since 1871. He remained in the position for 33 years.

In 1911 he was elected a trustee of the University of North Carolina, and in the following year he was chosen by the board of trustees to serve on the executive committee as successor of Charles B. Aycock and later on the building committee; he continued to serve until 1932. Wake Forest College conferred on him the degree of LL. D. in 1906, and in 1941 when a chapter of Phi Beat Kappa was established at the college he was one of the twenty alumni initiated as foundation members. Soon after returning to the state he led in the raising funds of Wake County alumni of Wake Forest and in raising funds for a Wake County scholarship.

In 1922 he began making annual journeys abroad, and on these trips of three to six months each he was both the political scientist studying other peoples and talking with their leaders, and the bibliophile collecting books and visiting libraries and book dealers. He has been to Europe fifteen or more times, to Asia three times, and to Africa three times. In 1924 he took a trip around the world. When Dr. Smith in 1941 presented his library to Wake Forest College, he stipulated that it be maintained intact as a separate unit so that "future generations can have a realistic example of a comprehensive private library of the first half of the twentieth century."

Oscar T. Smith, brother of Charles Lee Smith and Wake Forest alumnus, also left a trust to continue building on and preserving his brother's donated collection.

Collection Overview

The Charles Lee Smith papers are a great complement to the Charles Lee Smith Library at Wake Forest University. The papers illustrate the personal and professional interests of Charles Lee Smith, his personal correspondence, his familiarity with Gandhi, and his travels. The collection spans from World War One printed materials to the Program for Wake Forest University Presentation of the Charles Lee Smith Library.

N-14-14 letter on Gandhi included in this collection. Three monographs shelved with Charles Lee Smith Library.

These papers are organized generally as Charles Lee Smith kept them. Series include: Personal Materials; Professional Materials; Printed Materials; Newspapers and Clippings; Gandhi Related Materials.

Collection Inventory

  • Personal Materials (1879-1942) (1939-1941) (No Subnote Content)
    • Lady Watson Materials  (1879-1942) (1939-1941) box 1 folder 1-68 (This collection of correspondence is primarily between C.L. Smith and Lady Maureen Watson (wife of Sir John Willliam Watson) ranging from the years 1939-1941. Additional materials from other writers and recipients include William Watson, George G. Harrap, Edward S. Cox-Sinclair, D. Lloyd George, J. Alex. Symington, David Wilson, A. Doyle, Gilbert Murray, Arthur Severns, Maria LaTouche, Joan Evans, and Lord Halifax. Although materials are included with the dates ranging from 1879 to 1942, the majority of the written materials were produced during the mid-1930's to 1941. Photographic prints, newspaper clippings, and photostatic copies of documents are included as part of the series of correspondence.)
    • "A Visit to Mahatma Gandhi" letter  (April, 1924) box 1 folder 69 (This letter, written to Charles Lee Smith's children, was written on board the Cunard R.M.S. "Laconia." and accounts Smith's visit to Mahatma Gandhi April 13, 1924. This folder includes the manuscript, a typed transcript, clippings, and photocopies of the title pages of the books from where the letter was bound.)
    • Letters of Introduction box 2 folder 1 (This collection of materials was originally grouped together by the donor. Letters of introduction by Manley O. Hudson, of the Law School of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. are grouped with other correspondence between Smith and Hudson. H.M. London, Secretary and Treasurer of the North Carolina Bar Association, Secretary of the North Carolina Agricultural Society, and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina also provides letters of introdution for Charles Lee Smith on his foreign travel. The Governor of the State of North Carolina, as well as J.H. Dickinson of Clark's Cruises are among others writing letters of introduction for foreign travels in 1925 and 1927.)
    • Wake Forest College box 2 folder 2 (The materials collected under the heading "Wake Forest College")
    • Richard T. Ely Correspondence box 2 folder 3
    • Correspondence box 2 folder 4
  • Professional Materials
    • Mercer University box 2 folder 5
    • The University of North Carolina box 2 folder 6 box 2 folder 7
  • Printed Materials
    • Wake Forest College Commencement Program 1930 (1930) box 3 folder 1
    • A History of North Carolina box 3 folder 2
    • The Southern Printer (1946 December 16) box 3 folder 3
    • The Tarheel Banker (September 1945) box 3 folder 4
    • The Forty and Eighter (December 1948) box 3 folder 6
    • The German White Paper (1940) box 3 folder 6
    • The Red Cross (1919) box 3 folder 7
    • French Army Materials box 3 folder 8
    • World War I Materials box 3 folder 9
      • "Halt the Hun" Poster box 4 folder 1
    • Wake Forest College Alumni News (1930) box 3 folder 10
    • UNC Alumni Review (1917-1918) box 3 folder 11
    • Masonic Temple Officers and Committees Roster (1946-1947) box 3 folder 12
    • Voices of Peace (1939) box 3 folder 13
    • Chicago Civic Opera Company (1931) box 3 folder 14
    • University of California (1931) box 3 folder 15
    • Duke University (1929-1930) box 3 folder 16
    • Advancing the Frontier of Human Knowledge (1925) box 3 folder 17
    • Authentic Visitors Guide to the World's Columbian Exposition and Chicago (1893) box 3 folder unknown container
    • Scenic Prints box 3 folder 19
    • Program for Wake Forest University Presentation of the Charles Lee Smith Library (1958 March 13) box 3 folder 20
    • The University of North Carolina Record Report to the President (December 1929) box 3 folder 21
    • Repport of Engineers on the Condition of Memorial Hall- UNC box 3 folder 22
    • Uncategorized Materials (circa 1920s) box 3 folder 23
  • Newspapers and Clippings box 4 folder 4 box 3 folder 24
  • Photographs
    • Photographs of Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia box 4 folder 2
    • Photograph of the County Seat of Davie, N.C. box 4 folder 3
    • William Jewell College Faculty and Student photographs box 3 folder 25
  • Scrapbook of the death of Ulysses S. Grant box 4
  • Mahatma Gandhi Clippings oversize 1

Summary Information

Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives
Charles Lee Smith Papers
Date [inclusive]
ca. 1920s
2 Linear Feet  1 legal sized letter box, 1 half letter box, 1 letter boxes, one oversized flat box

Administrative Information

Publication Information
Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives
Conditions Covering Access
This collection is open for use. 
Copyright Notice
The nature of the WFU Z.Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Archives and Special Collections of ZSR Library claims only physical ownership of most materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. 
Preferred Citation
Charles Lee Smith Papers, MS604, Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA. 

Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Andrews, C. F. (Charles Freer), 1871-1940

For digitized materials, please see our Charles Lee Smith Collection.

‹ Staff view ›