Charles Abram Smith was born in England circa 1883. He grew up in a Jewish orphanage in Ohio, most likely the Jewish Orphan Asylum in Cleveland. In his adult years Smith practiced dentistry in Detroit. At some point in his life he was initiated into Freemasonry.
Smith was an influential figure within the Michigan Republican Party. Formally, he did not occupy central positions in the Party. In 1928-1929, he served as a Chair of Wayne County Republican Progressive League Committee on Election of Delegates, then in the mid-1940s he served as a Wayne County Chief Deputy Clerk. However, he advised many influential politicians, judges, lawyers, and business people in the state. In these circles, Smith was known as "Doc." As the contents of the collection attest, a number of prominent public officials sought Smith's support and relied on his advice and guidance. Smith's regular correspondents included Michigan Governor Fred W. Green, Green's Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party Howard C. Lawrence, among others. Smith was especially close with U.S. Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg. Letters found in the collection reflect on a warm and respectful relationship between the two men.
Smith was involved in many philanthropic causes. He supported the Boy's Welfare Department of Jewish Social Services of Detroit, Jewish Orphan Home of Cleveland, Ohio (also known as the Jewish Orphan Asylum and later renamed the Bellefaire Jewish Orphan Home). Smith took personal interest in individuals. His papers contain files with correspondence regarding children and their progress at the orphanage. Another example is Smith's involvement in trying to obtain executive clemency for two Michigan men convicted for murder in the first degree.
Smith moved to California toward the end of his life.