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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Hugh H. Smythe and Mabel M. Smythe papers

Repository: Library of Congress. Manuscript Division

Collection Description (CRHP): See the oral history interview with Mabel Smythe in the Consultantships and Other Positions series. She was a research assistant with the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the 1940s and 1950s.

Collection Description (Extant): The papers of Hugh Heyne Smythe (1913-1977) and Mabel Hancock Murphy Smythe (1918- ) span the years circa 1895-1997, with the bulk of the items concentrated in the period between 1960 and 1990. The collection focuses on the work of Hugh H. Smythe, a sociologist and diplomat, and Mabel M. Smythe, an economist and diplomat, and consists of nine series: Correspondence, Foreign Service File, Academic File, Consultantships and Other Positions, Conferences, Writings, Subject File, Miscellany, and Addition. Included in the papers are correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, lectures, speeches, writings, newspaper and magazine clippings, and other material pertaining to the Smythes' careers.

The Subject File is composed entirely of material relating to African and African-American topics, the majority of which pertain to organizations promoting educational and cultural exchanges, assistance in health and education, and scholarly research. Of particular interest are the files of the African-American Institute, the African-American Scholars Council, and Operation Crossroads Africa. The latter organization, founded by James H. Robinson with the assistance of the Smythes, served as a model for the Peace Corps.
Hugh and Mabel Smythe also contributed to the civil rights movement through their scholarly endeavors. They worked for the abolition of de jure as well as de facto discrimination and for the establishment of equal opportunities for African Americans and other minority groups. Teaching in Japan in the early 1950s expanded their worldview regarding the individual in the context of society and culture, and the issue of multiculturalism arose throughout their professional careers.

The Miscellany series consists of material relating primarily to the private lives of the Smythes, including appointment calendars, awards and honors, biographical information, high school and college material, military service records, newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and files on various family members. Files relating to career moves document efforts by African Americans to enter the professions prior to enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. The series also includes speeches, writings, photographs, and other material of W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes for whom Hugh Smythe worked as a research assistant in the 1940s. Photographs are arranged throughout the collection according to subject.

Access Copy Note: Restrictions apply governing the use, photoduplication, or publication of items in this collection. Consult a reference librarian in the Manuscript Division for information concerning these restrictions.

Date(s): 1895-1997

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: MSS57505

Extent: 36,500 items ; 105 containers plus 1 classified ; 42 linear feet

Finding Aid URL:

Language: English

Interviewees: Mabel Smythe

Rights (Extant): The status of copyright in the unpublished writings of Hugh H. and Mabel M. Smythe in these papers and in other collections of papers in the custody of the Library of Congress is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.).


African American civil rights workers
African American diplomats
African American economists
African American women civil rights workers
African-American Institute
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund




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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

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   September 26, 2018
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