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William Carlson Smith papers

Identifier: Ax 364

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, research files, manuscripts by Smith and by others, speeches, correspondence, course material, biographical and family files, and photographs. Included is: both incoming and outgonig correspondence with friends, family, and colleagues about a variety of research and personal topics; notes, drafts, and reviews of manuscripts by Smith; drafts and copies of articles and speeches by Smith; manuscripts by others and a variety of documents on race and immigrant research; teaching material such as lecture notes and student papers; a small amount of biographical papers; diaries covering Smith's early career, travel, and missionary work; and photographs.


  • 1899-1974


Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

William Carlson Smith was born in 1883, and graduated in 1907 from Grand Island College, Grand Island, Nebraska, where he majored in arts and letters. Smith held various positions in his early career: high school principal, teacher, Red Cross worker, field worker, and probation officer. Smith did educational work in Assam, India, with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society from 1912-1915.

Following his return to the U.S., Smith continued his studies at the University of Southern California and the University of Chicago, majoring in sociology. He went on to hold positions in the sociology departments of various universities.

In the 1920s, Smith worked as a researcher on the "Survey of Race Relations," a Canadian-American project that investigated "relations between Orientals and whites on the Pacific Coast" (Tentative Findings of the Survey of Race Relations. Stanford University: 1925). The survey collected demographic and economic data regarding Japanese and Chinese immigrants and their children, and gave particular attention to the impact of race and immigration related legislation, such as the "anti-alien land" laws. This research formed part of the basis for Smith's book, Americans in the Making.

During his tenure at Texas Christian University (1929-1933), Smith became actively involved in a drive to investigate the University's administrative policies through the American Association of University Professors. Smith and his followers charged that nepotism and favoritism combined with poor management of funds had compromised the University to the extent that faculty had no job security, and were often dismissed without cause.

Perhaps Smith's most important work was his 1953 book, The Stepchild, which was the culmination of fifteen years of research and study. Smith did much of the research in Oregon while at Linfield College. Other fields investigated by Smith were immigration and second generation Asian-Americans.


13.5 linear feet (9 containers) : 9 records storage boxes

Language of Materials



William Carlson Smith was an educator and sociologist who was a major research contributor to a 1925 survey of race relations. Collection contains manuscripts by Smith and by others, speeches, correspondence, course material, biographical and family files, and photographs.


The collection was received in multiple accessions over a span of eleven years between 1963-1974. Anticipating continued accruals, staff originally arranged the collection by accession. In 2023, arrangement was revised to integrate all accruals into a single descriptive structure.

Collection is organized into the following series:

1. Correspondence 2. Manuscripts 3. Teaching material 4. Diaries 5. Biographical material

Within each series, there is only minimal arrangement, and order as defined at the time of accession was maintained. As such, some material may be organized choronoglically while other material is arranged alphabetically, and still other material is simply grouped together based on how it was used or identified by the donor.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William Carlson Smith, 1963.

Related Materials

Related material can be found in the following collection:

William C. Smith papers, Ax 311 This collection contains the documents assembled by Smith and Robert Ezra Park for a survey of race relations on the Pacific Coast and in Hawaii, 1924-1927, and used by Smith in Americans in the Making.

Guide to the William Carlson Smith Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team and Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA