Russell Morrison Smith ’41

Russell Morrison Smith ’41, retired archivist with the Library of Congress, died peacefully at Goodwin House, Alexandria, Va., on April 21, 2012. He was 93 years old. He was born on Nov. 3, 1918, at Mutoto Station, Belgian Congo, to missionaries Plumer and Katie Smith 1907. At age five, he was sent to live with relatives in Missouri. At age seven he joined his older brother Newton at Stuart Robinson School near Blackey, Ky. Aunt Lizzie Russell was matron of boys there, and Smith remembered her care for him to the end of his life. At 15, he was treated for polio at Warm Springs, Ga., but lost much strength from his left leg and right arm. He rejoined Newton at Davidson, earning a B.A. in English in 1941. He taught high school for a few years, and worked as a reporter in Charlottesville and Richmond. He married Margie Rice of Richmond in 1950, and decided to take a more respectable career. He worked in the library and studied history at the University of Virginia, writing a master’s thesis about Cdr. Robert Shufeldt’s 1882 opening of Korea to the West. Three sons were born during his studies at U.Va. On the way to enroll for a Ph.D. at Princeton in 1956, he was invited to interview for a job with the Library of Congress’ Presidential Papers Collection. He accepted the job and did not go to Princeton. In 1957 the family moved to Alexandria, Va., where he and Margie would live until 1999. Smith led the team that transformed the Presidential Papers Collection, which was in shoe boxes when they began, into a true resource for scholars, cataloged, indexed, and microfilmed, covering the presidents from Washington to Coolidge. He did similar work with the Great Americans Collection. On retiring in 1980, he served as treasurer for ALIVE, an interfaith charity, and tutored junior high students. He and Margie served Westminster Presbyterian Church as teachers, deacons, and elders. In 2001, he and Margie moved to Goodwin House. Margie died in July 2009. Smith was preceded in death by parents, Plumer and Katie Smith; brother, John Newton Smith ’38 (Elanor); and sisters, Betty Anne Smith and Ruth Smith Gilmer (survived by husband John). Smith is survived by his sons, Russell Jr., 8110 Colony Point Rd., Apt. J, Springfield, VA 22152-4110, Theron (Lori), and John; grandchildren, Marshall (Gretchen), Jacob (Ashley), Rachel, and Dale; and great-grandchildren, Claire, Scott, and Kate.