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Chard Powers Smith papers

 Collection
Call Number: YCAL MSS 324

Scope and Contents

The papers contain writings, correspondence, personal papers, photographs, and family papers of twentieth-century American writer Chard Powers Smith, who wrote in several genres including poetry, historical fiction, and literary analysis. The collection documents his career through drafts of his writings and through correspondence that reveals his personal and professional relationships with fellow writers, publishers, and literary organizations. The papers also contain information about his family, documenting not only his relationships with family members but also the lives of his parents and grandparents in nineteenth-century Watertown, New York. Smith’s experiences during World War I and his travels in Europe in the 1920s are documented through correspondence, autobiographical writings, photographs, and scrapbooks. His involvement in the Distributist and Agrarian movements of the 1930s is evidenced by correspondence, writings, and printed ephemera, and the collection also documents his involvement with the Society of Friends, or Quakers, particularly from the 1950s through the end of his life.

Dates

  • 1759 - 1978
  • Majority of material found within 1910 - 1977

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Cold Storage (Photographic negatives): Restricted fragile material. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Chard Powers Smith Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Chard Powers Smith and Eunice Clark Smith, 1950-1989.

Arrangement

Organized into six series: I. Correspondence (1901-1978). II. Writings (circa 1922-1956, undated). III. Personal Papers (1759-1977). IV. Family Papers (1852-1965, undated). V. Subject Files and Printed Material (circa 1920s-1960s). VI. Photographs (circa 1870s-1960s).

Extent

92.5 Linear Feet (225 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.smithcp

Overview

The papers contain writings, correspondence, personal papers, photographs, and family papers of twentieth-century American writer Chard Powers Smith. The collection documents his career through drafts of his writings and through correspondence that reveals his personal and professional relationships with fellow writers, publishers, and literary organizations. The papers also contain information about his family, documenting not only his relationships with family members but also the lives of his parents and grandparents in nineteenth-century Watertown, New York. Smith's experiences during World War I and his travels in Europe in the 1920s are documented through correspondence, autobiographical writings, photographs, and scrapbooks. His involvement with the Distributist and Agrarian movements of the 1930s is evidenced by correspondence, writings, and printed ephemera, and the collection also documents his involvement with the Society of Friends, or Quakers, particularly from the 1950s through the end of his life.

Chard Powers Smith (1894-1977)

The writer Chard Powers Smith was born in Watertown, New York, and educated at the Pawling School and Yale University, class of 1916. Following service as a captain in the U.S. Army Field Artillery during World War I, he received a law degree from Harvard in 1921, but early abandoned the practice of law to make his living as a writer. A regular at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, throughout his career, he published in a variety of genres. His best known works include Artillery of Time, a historical novel; Where the Light Falls, a biography/memoir of the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson; and The Housatonic: Puritan River, part of the Rivers of America series.

Smith was born into comfortable circumstances in upstate New York, his parents’ marriage having joined two of Watertown’s most prominent families. His father, Edward North Smith, practiced law in partnership with his father, and was later a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Fifth District. His mother, Alice Lamon Powers, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, died in childbirth when Smith was eleven. Smith maintained a home in an old mill in nearby Sackets Harbor for many years, and based much of his writing on family and local history.

Like many writers of his generation, Smith traveled and lived in Europe intermittently in the 1920s, and moved in American expatriate social and literary circles. He studied at Oxford in 1921, and in that year also married Olive Cary Macdonald; she died of complications from pregnancy in 1924 while the two were living in Italy. In addition to inspiring his own volume of poetry, Along the Wind, Smith’s first marriage was purported to be a source for Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot;” Smith maintained a bitter grudge about the story all his life.

In 1929 Smith married Marion Antoinette (“Nanette”) Chester. The couple lived in Connecticut and had two children, Chard Powers Smith, Jr., and Marion Kendall Smith. Smith and his second wife divorced in 1957, and in the same year he married Eunice Waters Clark, a professor of French. After spending the last two decades of his life in Arlington, Vermont, Smith died in a nursing home in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1977.

Family Tree

Leonard Powers (1795-1884) m.1815 Diadema Caldwell
--Diadema Powers m.1845 Salmasius Bordwell
--Isaac Proctor Powers (“Ike” ) (1826-1908) m.1858 Lorinda Lamon (circa 1838-1921)
----Charles Lamon Powers (1870-1871)
----Alice Lamon Powers Smith (1872-1906)

Savillian Smith (b.1807) m.1836 Louisa Chafee
--Hannibal Smith (1839-1899) m.1866 Amelia Marsh
----Edward North Smith (1868-1943)
----William Hannibal Smith
----Elizabeth Chard Smith m. Frank Gallup
----Amelia Lydia Smith
----Eli Marsh Smith

Edward North Smith m.1894 Alice Lamon Powers; m.1923 Marion Ward
--Chard Powers Smith (1894-1977)
.......m.1921 Olive Cary Macdonald (circa 1888-1924)
.......m.1929 Marion Antoinette Chester (“Nanette”); divorced 1957
------------Chard Powers Smith, Jr. (“Cepe”) (born 1931) m.1953 Mary Elizabeth Carey (“Dusty")
----------------------Arthur Tremaine Smith ("Trem")
----------------------Carey Smith
----------------------Sarah Smith
------------Marion Kendall Smith (“Kendall”) m.1959 William Clinton Stanley
-----------------------Eamon Stanley
-----------------------Sam Stanley
.......m.1957 Eunice Waters Clark

Sources of information include: Monroe, Joel H. Through Eleven Decades of History: Watertown, a History from 1800 to 1912 with Illustrations and Many Incidents (Watertown: Hungerford-Holbrook Co., 1912), and Haddock, John A. The Growth of a Century: as Illustrated in the History of Jefferson County, New York, from 1793-1894 (Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., 1894).

Processing Information

The bulk of this collection was arranged and rehoused by the library in the 1960s and 1970s, and this arrangement was for the most part preserved during final processing in 2008. Changes to the arrangement included moving correspondence by Smith's family members to each other from the Correspondence series into the Family Papers series, and integrating previously restricted material into the collection.

Material in this collection formerly had the call numbers ZA Smith, C.P.; Uncat.ZA File.188; and Uncat.ZA MS.116.
Title
Guide to the Chard Powers Smith Papers
Status
Under Revision
Author
by Andrea Benefiel and Ellen Doon
Date
2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

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