Scope and Contents
The papers consist of personal letters written by Reed Smith to his brother, Harlan Smith (sometimes addressed as Smitty), between the years of 1940 and 1947. There are also letters written to Reed Smith’s parents, Elizabeth May Wiggins and Ray Patton Smith. There is a mixture of handwritten and typed letters, as well as postcards, the majority of which are not photograph cards. The letters cover Reed Smith’s time as a conscientious objector during World War II and abroad in France and Poland working with the AFSC after the war. The contents of the letters include a reflection on the use of militaristic war songs in remembrance ceremonies (November 11, 1944), reactions to the dropping of the atom bomb (August 12, 1945), arguments against the Civilian Public Service (CPS) and Selective Service programs (September 23, 1945), a detailed description of an army training camp in Alabama (October 20, 1945), an essay by Joe Havens about an experiment in radical service (October 20, 1945), and information and statistics about Quaker Transport in France (July 1946). The letters are written in English, with occasional short paragraphs in Polish, French, and German. In addition to the letters, there is a short family history written by Reed Smith.
Reed Smith was born on February 26, 1920 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth May Wiggins and Ray Patton Smith. His family was heavily involved with the Lutheran church in town. Smith attended Oberlin College, where he studied political science. Oberlin was a very politically active campus when Smith arrived in 1939, and he became involved in the Peace Society there. In 1941, Smith served in Osborne, Kansas, as a member of an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Peace Caravan. Soon after returning, Smith was drafted into the army, but registered as a Conscientious Objector (CO). He served at many different CO camps throughout the course of World War II, including two stints doing forestry work in Maryland, work at a state mental institution in New Jersey, and work in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. During this time, Smith was selected for international relations training at Swarthmore College, but the program was terminated soon after he arrived, so he returned to domestic CO camps. After being discharged from Civilian Public Service (CPS) in December of 1945, Smith joined an AFSC team to aid reconstruction work in Europe. After three months training at Pendle Hill, Smith travelled to France, Germany, and Poland with the AFSC, taking part in an Anglo-American Quaker Transport Team stationed just outside Warsaw, Poland. Smith went back to Oberlin to finish his degree after returning from Europe in 1947. He then went on to complete an MA in political science from Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), an MA in Russian and a Ph.D. in political science, both from Columbia University. He married Marjorie Allen, whom he met while at Penn State. Smith’s professional career was spent teaching, both while in the process of completing his post-graduate degrees and later at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
Ayoub, Christine, ed. Memories of the Quaker Past. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation, 2014.