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Guide to the Winifred Smith Papers, 1904-1959

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Collection Summary

Repository: Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries
Creator: Smith, Winifred, b. 1879
Title: Winifred Smith Papers
Dates: 1904-1959
Quantity: 3.8 cubic ft (15 boxes)
Abstract: Materials relating to Smith's life and work in the Drama Department of Vassar College.
Forms of Materials: Correspondence, manuscripts, publications, articles, and course materials.

Biographical Note

Winifred Smith (1897-1967) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was the daughter of Henry Preserved Smith, a leading Biblical scholar, and the sister of Preserved Smith, noted historian of the Reformation. After graduating from Vassar in 1904 and spending a year as a tutor at Mt. Holyoke College, and a year of student at the Sorbonne, Winifred Smith earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1912.

In 1911 Miss Smith came to Vassar as an instructor in English, rising to the rank of professor. In 1916 she started a theatrical museum at Vassar and, with Emmeline Moore, a Shakespeare Garden to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. Winifred Smith's scholarly interest was in dramatic literature. She wrote books on The Commedia dell-Arte and Italian Actors in the Renaissance and numerous articles and reviews for periodicals such as The Nation and The Dial. She also translated many futurist plays from the French and Italian. When the Division of Drama was organized in 1938, she became its chairman, working closely with Hallie Flanagan Davis during the years of the Experimental Theatre.

Professor Smith was also active in the suffrage movement and participated in local civic activities, including the Community Theatre, the Women's City and County Club, and the Citizens Better Housing League. She was the first president of the Dutchess County local of the American Federation of Teachers. She was interested in such social issues as disarmament and child labor.

Her retirement in 1947 was marked by an only slightly slower pace in a career outstanding for her willingness to act on a broad range of social concerns and scholarly interests. In a faculty memorial minute, Winifred Smith was named "one of Vassar's great teachers" and "one of its great rebels." She had an adopted daughter, Ann Veronka, who graduated from Vassar in 1938.

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Scope and Content Note

Papers include letters received regarding her books, fellowships, teaching and research opportunities, and other professional concerns; manuscripts on life at Vassar College, review of Vassar theater presentation, articles on plays and literature, and a lecture on the "Usefulness of Brains;" copies of her publications; Vassar reading lists and assignments; and a copy of a Vassar senior thesis by Mary Arnold Sykes, 1946. Also includes a card file of descriptions of college as well as local productions and notes on Vassar classes and curricula.

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Access and Use


This collection is open for research according to the regulations of the Vassar College Archives and Special Collections Library without any additional restrictions.

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Subject Headings


  • Sykes, Mary Arnold.


  • Vassar College--Faculty.
  • Vassar College--Students.


  • Literature--Research.
  • Books and reading.
  • Drama--Study and teaching.
  • English language--Study and teaching.
  • Literature--Study and teaching.
  • Women college teachers.
  • Women college students--New York (State)--Poughkeepsie.
  • Women's colleges--New York (State)--Poughkeepsie.
  • Women--Social conditions.
  • Women--Suffrage.

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Encoding Information

Encoded by Elizabeth Clarke, April 2007.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Winifred Smith Papers, Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries.

Processing Information

Original processing date unknown. Updated in September 2007 by Maya Peraza-Baker.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Priscilla Smith Robertson (VC 1930) and other donors. Card file transfered from VC Drama Department in 2007 (M2007-015)

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Series List

Series I. Correspondence (Boxes 15)

Series II. Biographical Materials (Box 15)

Series III. Manuscripts and Published Works of Winifred Smith (Box 15)

Series IV. Vassar Related Materials (Box 15)

Series V. Drama Card File (Boxes 1-14)

Container List


Folder 15.1 Winifred Smith to Parents, 1892-1918
Folder 15.2 Winifred Smith to Parents, Jan-Mar 1921
Folder 15.3 Winifred Smith to Parents, April 1921
Folder 15.4 Winifred Smith to Parents, May-June 1921
Folder 15.5 Winifred Smith to Parents, July 1921
Folder 15.6 Winifred Smith to Parents, Aug-Dec 1921
Folder 15.7 Winifred Smith to Parents, 1922
Folder 15.8 Winifred Smith to Parents, Jan-May 1923
Folder 15.9 Winifred Smith to Parents, June-Dec 1923
Folder 15.10 Winifred Smith to Parents, 1924-1925
Folder 15.11 Winifred Smith to Parents, 1937
Folder 15.12 Winifred Smith to Parents, n.d. and fragments
Folder 15.13 Winifred Smith to Agnes [a cousin], 1892
Folder 15.14 Winifred Smith to others, 1894-1949
Folder 15.15 Correspondence to Winifred Smith, 1904-1929
Folder 15.16 Correspondence to Winifred Smith, 1930-1959
Folder 15.16a Correspondence to Winifred Smith, 1944 oversized
Folder 15.17 Correspondence to Winifred Smith, n.d.
Folder 15.18 Correspondence re: Associated Alumnae Fellowship, 1908-1910
Folder 15.19 Correspondence from others to others, 1916-1929

Biographical Materials

Folder 15.19 Miscellaneous biographical materials
Folder 15.20 Memorial minute for Winifred Smith, read at Vassar College Faculty Meeting, 10 April 1968
Folder 15.21 Deed for 3 Randolph Avenue, Poughkeepsie, 1913
Folder 15.22 Photographs
Folder 15.23 Clippings - Biographical
Folder 15.24 Clippings - Obituaries, 1967
Folder 15.25 V.C. Press releases re: Winifred Smith, 1941-1967
Folder 15.26 Ephemera from Winifred Smith's European trips
Folder 15.27 Miscellaneous items

Manuscripts and Published Works of Winifred Smith

Folder 15.27a Antigone, 1918
Folder 15.28 The Arabian Nights, 1911
Folder 15.29 Bernard Shaw and His Critics, 1892-1938, 1941
Folder 15.30 Cocteau's Infernal Machines, n.d.
Folder 15.31 Creon , Acts II-V, n.d.
Folder 15.32 Four Greek heroines in Modern Dress, n.d.
Folder 15.33 Havelock the Dane, n.d.
Folder 15.34 The Humorous Duke of As You Like It, 1915
Folder 15.35 Kurt, n.d.
Folder 15.36 Mystics in the Modern Theatre, 1942
Folder 15.37 Nazi Drama and Its Roots, n.d.
Folder 15.38 Our Natacha, by Casona. Translated by Winifred Smith, 1936
Folder 15.39 The Problem Play and Comedy, n.d.
Folder 15.40 Right You Are! (If You Think So), n.d.
Folder 15.41 Six Characters in Search of an Author, by Pirandello. Translated of Italian stage directions by Winifred Smith, n.d.
Folder 15.42 Six Characters...translated of Preface by Winifred Smith, n.d.
Folder 15.43 Six Characters... translated of Preface by Winifred Smith, n.d.
Folder 15.44 "The Usefulness of Brains" [Phi Beta Kappa Lecture] with commentary on speech in Vassar Miscellany and Vassar Chronicle, 1952
Folder 15.45 When I Entered Vassar..., n.d.
Folder 15.46 Printed publications of Winifred Smith
Folder 15.47 Printed publications of Winifred Smith
Folder 15.48 Printed publications of Winifred Smith
Folder 15.49 Printed publications of Winifred Smith
Folder 15.50 Reviews of and references to Winifred Smith's "The Commedia dell' Arte," 1912
Folder 15.51 Book reviews by Winifred Smith
Folder 15.52 Book reviews by Winifred Smith
Folder 15.53 "Erasmus, Enemy of Pedantry," by Preserved Smith, brother of Winifred Smith, n.d.

Vassar Related Materials

Folder 15.54 Reading lists and assignments, 1940-1944
Folder 15.55 Teaching notes
Folder 15.56 Senior thesis, by Mary Arnold Sykes (VC 1946), 1946

Drama Card File

Box 1 "Russian Drama"
Box 1-2 "U.S.A. & its drama, Melodrama, 18th & 19th c. Federal Theatre, Irish Theatre"
Box 2-3 "German Drama, Modern"
Box 3-4 "Shaw and background"
Box 4 "Scandinavian, Spanish, Dutch, Czech, Irish Drama & G.B.S. Life"
Box 4-5 [Shaw, Italian Literature and Theater]
Box 5 "French Drama, Medieval 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th c."
Box 5-6 "French Drama - Modern"
Box 6-7 "English Drama - Modern"
Box 7 "Greek Drama, Comedy, Tragedy, Criticism"
Box 8 "Italian Drama (1500-1600), Actors, Theatres, Scenery, Masks"
Box 8-9 "American Drama (l-w)"
Box 9-10 "19th & 20th c. Theatre, Movies"
Box 10 "Modern Drama, Background, science, philosophy, psychology, social life"
Box 10-11 "Modern Drama (Don Juan), Theories, Style, Background (aesthetic), Poetry"
Box 11-12 "19th Century Drama (early through Strindberg)"
Box 12-13 "American Drama (a-k)"
Box 13 "Italian Drama, Modern"
Box 13-14 "Modern Plays, Bibliography, Theme, Pageantry groups, Marionettes, Capeks - Molnar, Munk & Dutch, Holberg"
Box 14 "Aesthetics & Poetics, Epic, Comedy - Burlesque, Tragedy (classical), Pantamine"

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