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Guide to the Jack Smith Papers, 1925-2004
2302, 2498  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jack Smith papers
    Dates: 1925-2004
    Collection number: 2302, 2498
    Creator: Smith, Jack, 1916-1996
    Collection Size: Approximately 7,000 pieces, plus ephemera. 182 boxes.
    Repository: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    San Marino, CA 91108
    Abstract: This collection consists of the personal and professional papers of author and columnist Jack Smith (1916-1996).
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please contact the Huntington Library Reader Services Department at readerregistration@huntington.org.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from the collection must be submitted in writing to the appropriate curator. The Huntington's granting permission to publish does not transfer copyright it owns, and permission is granted only to the extent of Huntington ownership of the rights related to the request. Certain works requested which are physically owned by the Huntington may be protected by copyright, trademark, or related interests not owned by the Huntington. The responsibility for determining whether any such intangible rights exist, for obtaining all necessary permissions, and for guarding against the infringement of those rights that may be held elsewhere, remains with the requester.

    Preferred Citation

    Jack Smith papers, 2302, 2498, Manuscripts Dept., Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Curt B. Smith and Douglas F. Smith in May, 2004; additional material was donated November, 2004. Additional Provenance: Gift of one undated letter from Jack Smith to June Haws Allen made by June Lee Pilsitz on May 12, 2008. Gift of two snapshots of Denise Smith and Jack Smith made by Jeanne Cornwell on April 2, 2008.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Jack Clifford Smith, born August 27, 1916, in Long Beach, California, was a journalist and author who began his career in Bakersfield in 1937; he served in the USMC, 1944-1945. Smith was a reporter for several newspapers before coming to the Los Angeles Times as a reporter in 1953; he became a columnist in 1958 until his death on January 9, 1996. Smith is also the author of Three Coins in the Birdbath, 1965, Smith in Wry, 1970, God and Mr. Gomez, 1974, The Big Orange, 1976, Spend All Your Kisses, Mr. Smith, 1978, Jack Smith's L.A., 1980, How to Win a Pullet Surprise, 1982, Cats, Dogs, and Other Strangers at My Door, 1984, Alive in La La Land, 1989; a compilation of his columns, Eternally Yours, was published posthumously in 1996.
    Smith married Denise Bresson in 1939 and they had two sons, Curtis B. Smith and Douglas F. Smith. They lived for many years in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles as well as in Baja, California.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection consists of the following series:
    1. Correspondence Series I (Boxes C1-C39) are arranged alphabetically by author. This series includes letters from many famous and noteworthy people and also letters from other readers. Please note that Jack Smith filed these letters separately, but the cataloger has combined the letters for easier access. Smith used and quoted many of these letters in his columns. This series also includes Christmas cards and Get Well cards and condolence cards sent to the Smith family after Jack Smith's death. Also included are business and personal letters and cards to Denise Smith, as well as condolence cards sent to the Smith family upon the death of Denise Smith. Please note that Jack Smith was in the habit of jotting down comments and responses on the letters he received from readers, therefore, many of the letters also contain autograph or typewritten notes by Jack Smith written on or attached to the original letter.
    2. Correspondence Series II (Boxes C40-C42) are arranged alphabetically by author. This series includes letters written to and from Jack and Denise Smith as well as other friends and family during World War II.
    3. Correspondence Series III (Boxes C43-C46) are grouped alphabetically by author. This series includes letters, notes, and copies of checks regarding donations to the Jack Smith Memorial Fund. Also included are notes written by Denise Smith regarding the paperwork and administration of the memorial fund.
    4. Oversize Correspondence (Box C47) are grouped alphabetically by author. This series includes letters and attachments from readers and family to Jack and Denise Smith that are printed on legal size paper.
    5. Subject Files Series I (Boxes S1-S45) includes files kept by Jack Smith over many years and is divided into two large groups: the files stored in the garage, covering the late 1960s - 1990 (Boxes S1-S33) and the files stored in the house, covering 1991-1996 (Boxes S34-S45). Please also note these files are not always in alphabetical order because, as much as possible, Smith's original order was retained. Because of this, these files also contain manuscripts and letters by readers and Jack Smith, photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.
    6. Manuscripts by Jack Smith and Various Authors (Boxes M1-M19) are arranged alphabetically by author and then by title and date. This series includes manuscripts by various authors as well Jack Smith. This series also includes notebooks that Jack Smith kept with miscellaneous notes for columns and meetings. Post-it notes from Denise, Curtis, and Douglas Smith were on drafts of Eternally Yours. These notes were removed from the manuscripts and placed on acid free paper. Most of the post-it notes either covered or pointed to handwritten notes on the page. Cataloger made notes on the acid free paper with the page number and reference if the note was pointing directly to something.
    7. Ephemera (Boxes E1-E71) This series includes Jack Smith's collection of printed material including newspaper and magazine clippings of articles by himself and others, magazines, programs, newsletters, financial documents, and photographs, etc.
    Financial Documents are foldered by year and then alphabetically if it contains a span of years. This box includes tax returns; letters from the Smith's accountant, E. Evans Banbury; letters from the IRS; and letters from organizations that the Smiths made donations to; as well as letters from other publications that published Jack Smith. Also included are letters from the Los Angeles Times or Times Mirror regarding finances and employment.
    Brochures, Flyers, and News Releases includes information from parks, museums, music centers as well as information regarding gadgets.
    Oversize Ephemera
    Magazines - Some of the magazines are damaged in the corners. The magazines were housed in Jack Smith's garage and it appears that mice may have eaten the spines and corners.
    Programs - Book Documents section includes correspondence and information regarding book signings in addition to legal contracts regarding royalties and rights. This section also includes some promotional materials. Programs section includes some invitations if attached to the program.
    Strengths of the collection: The collection has several strong subject points for the purpose of research including journalism and the writing process and the history of Los Angeles. There are many letters written during World War II that discuss life in America as well as abroad, especially Iwo Jima.
    Note: A more extensive version of this finding is available in the repository.


    The collection is arranged in the following series: Correspondence, Subject Files, Manuscripts, and Ephemera.
    Correspondence is divided into three subseries; the first contains the majority of correspondence between Smith and readers and many noteworthy persons. The second series includes letters written to and from Jack and Denise Smith as well as other friends and family during World War II. The third series includes correspondence regarding donations to the Jack Smith Memorial Fund.
    The Subject Files represent files kept by Jack Smith over many years and are divided into two large groups, those files stored in the house and those stored in the garage. Smith's original order has been retained as much as possible.
    Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by author and then by title and date, and include items by Smith and others. The Ephemera series includes newspaper and magazine clippings of articles by Smith and others, magazines, programs, newsletters, financial documents, photographs, audio and video cassettes, computer disks, awards and certificates.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Smith, Jack, 1916-1996 -- Archives.
    Los Angeles Times (Firm).
    Bird watching.
    Journalists -- California.
    World War, 1939-1945. -- Personal Narratives.
    Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula)
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century.
    Letters (Correspondence) -- United States -- 20th Century.
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th Century.
    Ephemera -- United States -- 20th Century.
    Family Papers -- United States -- 20th Century.