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Henry Lee Smith Additional papers

 Collection — Box: 1-13
Identifier: 22-8F-371

Scope and Contents

The collection contains drafts and final copies of speeches and publications as well as M.A. and Ph.D. dissertations done under the direction of Henry Lee Smith. Also included in the collection are phonograph records for teaching spoken Japanese and a film of a symposium held in Henry Lee Smith's honor (February 2, 1974). There are a large number of reprints in the collection, many of which include handwritten notes to Smith from the authors. The collection includes primers and readers co-authored by Smith, many with accompanying teacher's editions and workbooks.


  • circa 1935-1972


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Henry Lee Smith Additional Papers, circa 1935-1972, are open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical Note

Henry Lee Smith was born in Morristown, New Jersey on July 11, 1913. He received an A.B. (1935), M.A. (1937), and Ph.D. (1938) from Princeton University, and an honorary degree, Litt.D. from Wagner College. Early in his academic career, Smith lectured in English at Barnard College, Columbia University (1938-1940) and Brown University (1940-1942).

In 1935, Henry Lee Smith received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Reserve Officer's Training Corps at Princeton University, and from 1942 to 1946, Smith was a major in the United States Army and served as Officer in Charge, Language Section, Information and Education Division, Army Service Forces. Prior to the war there were no foreign language materials for the bulk of the military and civilian personnel and Smith, along with linguists he recruited, produced language guides, phrase books and military and general purpose dictionaries in many different languages. Under Smiths' direction the linguists also developed what came to be known as the Army method of language instruction, emphasizing the use of phonograph records on which a native speaker recited the foreign words and allowed a pause for repetition by the student.

In 1945, Smith transferred to the Office of the Provost Marshal General and was assigned to duty at Ft. Getty, Rhode Island, and the at Ft. Eustis, Virginia, where he was responsible for selecting German prisoners of war for instruction in English and orientation in democratic principles. In 1946 Smith joined the U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., as assistant chief, Division of Training Services, later becoming assistant director of the Foreign Service Institute and continuing in that capacity until 1956.

Henry Lee Smith was a cofounder (1946) of the School of Language and Linguistics, Foreign Service Institute (later the School of Language Studies), under U.S. Department of State and served until 1956 as the school's first director. He was also associated with the institute's School of Languages as a professor of linguistics (1951-1956) and as dean (1955-1956). While with the Foreign Service Institute, Smith again utilized the Army method of language instruction, usually with a native speaker, to instruct Foreign Service officers and clerical personnel before overseas assignments.

Smith returned to teaching in 1956 as professor of linguistics and English at the University of Buffalo, and continued in that capacity until his death in 1972. Smith was the first chairman of the university's new Department of Anthropology and Linguistics (later Department of Anthropology) serving in that capacity until 1965. Smith was also acting director, Program in Linguistics, State University of New York at Buffalo from 1967 to 1968. In 1970 Smith participated in a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh.

At the time of his death (December 13, 1972), Smith was engaged in research in historical linguistics and semology, the relationship of syntactic patterns to meaning.


13.2 Linear Feet (12 cartons, 1 flat box)


The collection contains drafts and final copies of speeches and publications as well as M.A. and Ph.D. dissertations done under the direction of Henry Lee Smith. This collection supplements 22/8F/232, Henry Lee Smith Papers.


This collection is arranged in nine series:

  1. M.A. and Ph.D. Dissertations
  2. Speeches and Publications
  3. Working Papers
  4. Films and Phonograph Records
  5. Reprints
  6. Summer Institute of Linguistics
  7. Miscellaneous Materials by and about Henry Lee Smith
  8. Primers and Readers
  9. Additional Printed Materials

Acquisition Information

The papers in this collection were donated to the Archives by Mrs. Henry Lee Smith in November 1975 and include the final working papers which were retained by the Department of Linguistics in 1973. Additional materials from Henry Lee Smith's library that had been donated to the University Libraries were transferred to the Archives because of their close connection with Smith's life and work.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

  1. 22/8F/232, Henry Lee Smith Papers (circa 1935-1972)

Processing Information

Collection processed by Archives staff in 1976.


Finding Aid for the Henry Lee Smith Additional papers
Finding aid prepared by Archives staff; updated by Sheryl Saxby, May 2006.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
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