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Elden T. Smith Collection - MS 95
The Elden T. Smith Collection (1939-1975, 1991, 2001 scattered) is comprised of ½ cubic foot of correspondence, printed materials and photographs belonging to Smith when he was a faculty member/administrator at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) from 1940-1961, specializing in Speech and Drama. The correspondence between Elden Smith and Irish visiting scholar/dramatist Lennox Robinson is a major highlight of this collection as well as various volumes of Robinson's writings inscribed by him to Smith.
This collection was transferred from University Archives. There are no restrictions on its use for research purposes. The finding aid was prepared by Eric Honneffer in July 2005.
Elden T. Smith has been fondly remembered at BGSU as the professor who "discovered" actress Eva Marie Saint when she was an elementary education major at the university. Dr. Smith, director of the 1943 campus production of "Personal Appearance" needed a girl for the play who "looked like an actress". Elden Smith's wife Betty was Eva Marie Saint's adviser at the Delta Gamma Sorority and encouraged her to audition. She won the part and switched her major to Theater.
Elden T. Smith was born in January 1910 and graduated from Elyria High School in 1928. He received his undergraduate degree in Speech in 1932 from Ohio Wesleyan and a Masters in Drama and Theater from Western Reserve in 1933. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Western Reserve in 1948.
Prior to coming to BGSU in 1940 as an instructor in the Speech Department, Dr. Smith produced, directed and managed commercial Marionette shows for Duncan-Mabley Inc. During the 1940's and into the mid-1950's he served as the director of the university's Theater Department, was chair of the Speech Department and by 1947 would be named full professor. From 1946-1947 he was on leave from BGSU working under a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship from the National Theater Conference directing plays at Western Reserve.
In 1955 Dr. Smith was appointed Director of Student Life and Services at BGSU and in 1961 became Dean of Students. He and his wife Betty were also active advisors to Greek organizations. On May 19, 1961, Elden T. Smith assumed the position of Provost at Ohio Wesleyan and would become President there from 1962-1968.
Dr. Smith currently resides in Seminole, Florida.
This small 1/2 cubic foot collection includes mostly correspondence, printed materials and photographs belonging to Elden T. Smith while he was employed at BGSU from 1940-1961.
Correspondence between Elden T. Smith and Irish visiting scholar/dramatist Lennox Robinson may appeal to literature, drama scholars and others interested in Irish theater management in general. (Robinson managed the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland.) The letters are mostly a good nature exchange of daily news, comments and reminiscences about Robinson's visit to BGSU in 1947 and subsequent BGSU theater productions. Other correspondence focuses upon Elden T. Smith's hiring at BGSU in 1940 and his move toward administrative positions at BGSU in 1955.
Literary manuscripts include a copy of a script used by Betty Smith in a BGSU 1947 production of "The Plough and the Stars" by Sean O'Casey. The play was directed by Lennox Robinson. He inscribed and signed this copy which includes annotations.
Elden T. Smith's 1975 manuscript recounting the establishment of Phi Delta Theta at BGSU is also included among the literary productions. A 1942 article about BGSU President Frank Prout by Elden T. Smith can be found in an issue of The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta within printed materials in the collection.
Other notable printed materials include a few playbills from various BGSU theater productions presented from 1947-1955; Lennox Robinson's booklet "Pictures in a Theatre" about the Abbey Theatre; four volumes by Robinson signed and inscribed to Elden T. Smith; a biography about Lennox Robinson and a small selection of news clippings relevant to Elden T. Smith and various BGSU theater productions. Two articles (1958 and 2001) are the only documents in the collection concerning actress Eva Marie Saint.
Approximately one half dozen photographs in the collection include one of the Smiths and others at a football game at Ohio Weslyan (c.1943), the Smith and others at the installation of the BGSU Chapter of Theta Alpha Phi (dramatics honorary) and various Lennox Robinson-related photographs.
The collection ends with a reel-to-reel tape recording of Elden T. Smith's "This is Your Life" presentation at the Huron Playhouse in August 1955.
ELDEN T. SMITH - BGSU LETTERS
October 16, 1939-May 7, 1948 (scattered)
Includes letters regarding Elden T. Smith's hiring at BGSU in 1940 and the Summer School of Speech in 1941. A letter written to a colleague in 1948 about a possible change of career is also in this group.
LENNOX ROBINSON LETTERS TO ELDEN T. SMITH
1947, January 30, 1948-April 2, 1956, n.d.
Most of the letters were sent to Elden T. Smith when Lennox Robinson returned to Dublin, Ireland after a 1947 visit to BGSU. A number of these are not dated but seem to be from the late 1940's and into the 1950's. A couple of carbons of Mr. Smith's replies include insights into his move toward administrative posts at BGSU and contained interest in BGSU theater productions.
LENNOX ROBINSON LETTERS TO BETTY SMITH
November 1947, n.d.
These are congratulatory notes given to Betty Smith from Lennox Robinson whenever she appeared in his BGSU production of "The Plough and the Stars" in 1947. One undated letter is from Mrs. Lennox Robinson (Dolly Smith).
SCRIPT OF "THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS" BY SEAN O'CASEY
Inscribed, signed and annotated by Lennox Robinson for Betty Smith whenever she used this copy in the production of the same name.
"PHI DELTA THETA AT BGSU BY ELDEN T. SMITH
September 18, 1975
History of this fraternity written by Elden T. Smith for the 25th anniversary of its chartering.
1940-1942, 1953-1954, 1955-1957, 1959-1960
Elden T. Smith's contracts with BGSU.
"SUMMER SCHOOL OF SPEECH"
THE SCROLL OF PHI DELTA THETA
This periodical contains an article written by Elden T. Smith about BGSU President Frank Prout.
Four playbills feature productions performed at BGSU theater.
"PICTURES IN A THEATRE"
Booklet by Lennox Robinson
Four works are by Lennox Robinson and are signed and inscribed by him to Elden T. Smith. A fifth work is a biography about Lennox Robinson written by Michael J. O'Neill.
Imprinted "Sara Allgood" (Irish actress) - two cards
These newsclippings are arranged chronologically and focus upon Elden T. Smith's career and various dramatic productions at BGSU. Two newsclippings are included about Eva Marie Saint.
ELDEN T. SMITH PHOTOGRAPHS
The photographs include one of the Smith and others at a football game at Ohio Wesleyan (c.1943). Another photograph includes the Smith and others at the installation of the BGSU Chapter of Theta Alpha Phi (c.1945). A third photograph is of Elden T. Smith, President McDonald and others at the Huron Playhouse (1952).
LENNOX ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHS
January 6, 1948; n.d.; c.1940
One photograph features Lennox Robinson and colleagues receiving honorary degrees from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland (1-6-1948). Another photograph shows Lennox Robinson in his study. A third photograph shows a house in Ireland that Lennox Robinson had once owned. Neither of the last photographs is dated but appears to be c.1940.
MAGNETIC TAPE (REEL TO REEL)
The recording was made of Elden T. Smith's "This is Your Life" Presentation at the Huron Playhouse.
- Correspondence - Elden T. Smith hired at BGSU, 10/16/1939-5/7/1948 (scattered)
- Correspondence - Lennox Robinson writing to the Smiths, 1947; 1/30/1948-4/2/1956; n.d.
- Correspondence - Sent to Betty Smith, 11/1947; n.d.
- "The Plough and the Stars" script of the play by Sean O'Casey (Betty Smith's copy when she appeared as Bessie Burgess in the BGSU production directed by Lennon Robinson. He inscribed and signed this copy), 11/1947
- "Phi Delta Theta at BGSU" manuscript by Elden T. Smith, 9/18/1975
- Elden T. Smith academic year contracts, 1940-1941; 1941-1942; 1953-1954; 1955-1956; 1956-1957; 1959-1960
- "Summer School of Speech" brochure (BGSU), 4/1940
- "A University Builder" article written by Eldon T. Smith about BGSU President Frank Prout which appeared in The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta, vol. LXVII, #2, 11/1942
- BGSU Playbills (4), 1947-1955
- "Pictures in a Theatre" booklet by Lennox Robinson n.d.; c.1940
- Two Christmas cards imprinted "Sara Allgood", n.d.; c.1940
- Newsclippings about Elden T. Smith and his first play "Room Service" at BGSU, 1940
- Newclippings about Elden T. Smith and BGSU plays
(list of BG News articles about Elden T. Smith - 1940-1991 scattered), 11/1947-5/1949; 8/1955
- Newsclipping about Eva Marie Saint, 1/19/1958
News release about Eva Marie Saint, 10/2001
- Books by Lennox Robinson
Eight Short Stories (inscribed to E. Smith by author), 1919
Lady Gregory's Journals 1916-1930 (editor) 1947
Palette and Plough (inscribed to E. Smith by author), 1948
I Sometimes Think (inscribed to E. Smith by author), 1956
Book - Lennox Robinson by Michael J. O'Neill, 1964
- Photographs of Elden T. Smith, Paul Jones, Frank Prout and others at BGSU/Ohio Wesleyan football game, c.1943
- Photographs of Elden T. Smith et.al. photographs at at the installation of BGSU's Chapter of Theta Alpha Phi, c. 1945
- Photographs of Elden T. Smith, President McDonald and others at the Huron Playhouse, 1952
- Photographs of Lennox Robinson and others receiving honorary degree from what appears to be at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, 1/6/1943
- Photographs of Lennox Robinson at his desk, n.d., c.1940
Lennox Robinson house, n.d., c.1940
- Magnetic tape (reel to reel) recording of Elden T. Smith's "This is Your Life" presentation at the Huron Playhouse, 8/1955
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