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N. Clark Smith papers

Call Number: RH MS 947


The N. Clark Smith papers are those of a Kansas resident who performed as part of a traveling musical group, worked as band director at a number of schools, and composed and published a number of musical pieces.


  • Creation: 1897 - 1926


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of N. Clark Smith

Nathaniel Clark Smith was born in July 31, 1877 in Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1905, Smith received his Bachelor of Music from Chicago Musical College. During the Spanish American War Smith served as bandmaster of the 8th Illinois Regiment Band. Smith, along with his brother-in-law L. W. Lawson, joined the M.B. Curtis All-Star African American Minstrels in 1899; the group traveled worldwide to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Circa 1902, Smith became Tuskegee University's band director; he then worked as bandmaster at Western University (Kansas City, Kansas) from 1913-1915. Then, until 1922, Smith taught at Kansas City's Lincoln High School.

Besides touring and teaching, Smith wrote and copyrighted a number of songs. One of these, "Negro Folk Suite," won the 1930 Wanamaker Prize and was performed by the St. Louis Symphony in January 1933. Smith was also a businessman; with J. Berni Barbour, in 1903 in Chicago he began the first black music publishing company.

Smith married Laura A. Lawson. Nathaniel Clark Smith died October 8, 1935.


.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The N. Clark Smith papers date from 1897 to 1926 and are arranged in a single series of papers. They consist mainly of correspondence between Smith and the Library of Congress Copyright Office and between Smith and his wife Laura regarding his travel in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Most letters are accompanied by envelopes, which appear immediately behind the letter. Folder arrangement is alphabetical.

Physical Location

RH MS 947

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Bookworm and Silverfish, 1992

Guide to the N. Clark Smith Collection
N. Clark Smith papers
Finding aid prepared by mbw, 2007; Finding aid encoded by mbw, 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in <language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Support for the processing of this Collection was provided by the Dana and Sue Anderson African American Collecting Program Endowment Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
N. Clark Smith Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 947, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States