Charles S. Smith papers: circa 1875-1923
Summary Information
Title: Charles S. Smith papers
Creator: Smith, Charles Spencer, 1852-1923
Inclusive dates: circa 1875-1923
Extent: 6 microfilms
Extent: 4 linear feet
Extent: 1 oversize folder (Ac)
Abstract:
A bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and founder of the denomination's Sunday School Union
Call number: 85413 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Karen Mason, 1982 Melissa Johnson and Ann Flowers, 1990 (for microfilming)

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The accession (donor no. 6803) was received from Frances Windham, July 1982.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box/reel no.,Charles Spencer Smith Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Arrangement

The Charles Spencer Smith papers are available in both the original paper records and in a microfilm edition. This finding aid includes complete contents list for both the paper (by box) and microfilm editions (by reel.) The Smith papers have been arranged in ten series:

  1. Microfilm Edition
    • Biographical Information [Reel 1]
    • Correspondence [Reel 1]
    • Stenographer's Notepads of Correspondence, etc. [Reel 1-2]
    • Speeches, Sermons, and Writings [Reel 2-3]
    • Methodist Ecumenical Conference, London [Reel 4]
    • African Methodist Episcopal Church [Reel 4-5]
    • Clippings, Miscellaneous and Topical Files [Reel 5-6]
    • Christine Shoecraft Smith [Reel 6]
    • Charles Spencer Smith, Jr. [Reel 6]
    • Books (non-Smith) [Reel 6]
    • Photographs [Reel 6]
  1. Paper Records
    • Biographical Information [Box 1]
    • Correspondence [Box 1]
    • Stenographer's Notepads of Correspondence, etc. [Box 1]
    • Speeches, Sermons, and Writings [Boxes 1-2]
    • Methodist Ecumenical Conference, London [Box 2]
    • African Methodist Episcopal Church [Boxes 2-3]
    • Clippings, Miscellaneous and Topical Files [Box 3]
    • Christine Shoecraft Smith [Box 4]
    • Charles Spencer Smith, Jr. [Box 4]
    • Books (non-Smith) [Box 4]
    • Photographs [Box 4]

Biography

Charles Spencer Smith, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and founder of the denomination's Sunday School Union, was born in Colborne, Canada, on March 16, 1852, son of Catharine and Nehemiah Henry Smith, and died on February 1, 1923. His home was Detroit, Michigan.

Although best known for his activities in the A.M.E. Church, Smith had a varied career. He received his education in the public schools of Canada and moved to the United States after the Civil War. From 1869 through 1871 he taught school under the Freedman's Bureau in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama. Smith was ordained to the ministry of the A.M.E. Church in 1872 and was elected to the House of Representatives of the Alabama State Legislature in 1874, serving until 1876. He studied at Central Tennessee College (later Walden University) in Nashville and received an M.D. from Meharry Medical college in Nashville in 1880.

Smith served briefly as a pastor in the 1870's, and in the 1880's became more actively involved in the A.M.E. Church. In 1882 he proposed that a Sunday School similar to that of the Methodist Episcopal Church be established in the A.M.E. Church. The plan was adopted by the Bishops' Council, and Smith was appointed corresponding secretary and treasurer of the new Sunday School Union, a position he held until 1900. Smith also edited the Union's journals The Child's Recorder and Our Sunday School Review.

In May 1900, Smith was elected the twenty-eighth bishop of the A.M.E. Church. He was first assigned to the Twelfth Episcopal District, which included Canadian and South American conferences, as well as Bermuda and the Windward Islands. He was also put in charge of the Louisiana conference. In 1904, Smith was assigned to the Thirteenth Episcopal District, comprising the South African conferences, but he left there in 1905 following a controversy over financial affairs and other matters within the church. He then took charge of the work in West Africa. Smith was assigned to the Sixth Episcopal District (Georgia) in 1908, the Tenth Episcopal District (Texas) in 1912, and the Fifteenth Episcopal District (Michigan, Canada, and Bermuda) in 1916. Bishop Smith retired in 1920 from active conference supervision and was appointed church historiographer. He was the author of numerous pamphlets and wrote a book Glimpses of Africa (1895), in which he drew on his experiences during a trip to the west and southwest coasts of Africa in 1894. In the final years of his life, Smith wrote a history of the A.M.E. Church.

Smith married Kate Josephine Black in March 1876. They had one child who survived, Susan Elnora Smith, who later married John W. Evans. Kate Smith died in 1885. In December 1888, Smith married Christine Shoecraft, a school teacher. They had a son, Charles Spencer Smith, Jr.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The papers of Charles Spencer Smith measure 4 linear feet and date from ca. 1875 to 1923. The correspondence, sermons, speeches, articles, and printed material in the collection relate primarily to Smith's work in the African Methodist Episcopal Church as secretary and treasurer of the Sunday School Union, and as a bishop. Of particular value is a manuscript history of the A.M.E. Church in the 1840's and 1850's written by Bishop Daniel A. Payne, D.D., LL.D, and edited by Smith. These manuscript chapters from A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church point out that Smith may have eliminated some of the original manuscript's detail to make Payne's work more concise. Smith himself wrote A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Vol. 2, which was printed by the Book Concern of the A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia, in 1922. This volume covers the history of the church during the years 1856-1922 and was intended as a sequel to Bishop Payne's work. The Bentley Library has reprints of both of these volumes.

Biographical information has been placed at the beginning of the collection. It is followed by Smith's correspondence; his speeches, articles, sermons, pamphlets, and other writings; and material pertaining to the Methodist Ecumenical Conferences he attended in London in 1901 and 1921. Then there are materials relating to the A.M.E. Church, both printed and manuscript, followed by newspaper clippings, memorabilia, and topical files. Papers of Christine Shoecraft Smith and Charles S. Smith, Jr. follow. Books (non-Smith) and photographs have been placed at the end of the collection.

The correspondence and writings of Smith pertain to the A.M.E. Church, to his visits to Africa, settlement of Liberia by American Blacks, the education of Blacks, and related topics. Minutes of annual conferences of the A.M.E. Church in districts served by Smith are included with the printed material.

In addition to Smith's papers, the collection contains papers of his wife, Christine Shoecraft Smith, and of their son, Charles Spencer Smith, Jr. Christine Smith's papers consist of condolence cards and letters upon the death of her husband, two autograph books, and copies of selected pages of a scrapbook which has been returned to the donor. The papers of C. S. Smith, Jr., consist of correspondence, notebooks, and technical material compiled by Smith while he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Due to the rare and fragile nature of many of the materials in the collection, everything has been microfilmed except for the non-Smith books. The aforementioned book by Smith, Glimpses of Africa, and scattered issues of The Child's Recorder and Our Sunday School Review for the years 1889-1891 had been microfilmed previously. The microfilm is the only copy the Bentley Library has of these publications.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Africa.
  • African Americans.
  • African Americans -- Michigan.
  • Clergy -- United States.
  • Education -- United States.
  • World War, 1914-1918.
  • African Americans.
  • African Americans -- Michigan.
  • Baldwin (Mich.)
  • Bermuda Islands.
  • Church buildings.
  • Dominican Republic.
  • Georgetown (Guyana)
  • Idlewild (Mich.)
  • Resorts -- Michigan.
  • Photographs.
  • Sermons.
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • Smith, Charles Spencer, 1852-1923.
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : c Chicago, Ill.)
  • Smith, Charles Spencer, 1852-1923.
  • Smith, Charles S., Jr. (Charles Spencer)
  • Smith, Christine Shoecraft.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Microfilm Edition [subgrp]
 
Biographical information [series]
Roll   1  
Biographical information
Roll   1  
Personal miscellanea
 
Correspondence [series]
Roll   1  
1879-1900

(scattered)

Roll   1  
1900

(letters of congratulation upon his election as A.M.E. bishop)

Roll   1  
1901-1904
Roll   1  
1905-1906
Roll   1  
1907-1909
Roll   1  
1910-1916
Roll   1  
1917-1919
Roll   1  
1920
Roll   1  
Correspondence record 1916-1918

(function unclear)

 
Stenographer's notepads of correspondence and other writings 1921-1923 [series] (2 folders)
Roll   1  
May 1894-August 1894
Roll   1  
July-August 1914
Roll   1  
May-June 1915
Roll   1  
October 17, 1921-February 2, 1922
Roll   2  
February 2, 1922-May 20, 1922
Roll   2  
May 20, 1922-January 1923
 
Speeches, sermons, and writings [series]
Roll   2  
Political speech 1880
Roll   2  
Lecture: "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" (re race relations) 1898

(2 versions)

 
Sermons
Roll   2  
1877
Roll   2  
1880
Roll   2  
1881
Roll   2  
Undated (3 folders)
 
Speeches and other writings
Roll   2  
1875-1906

(scattered)

Roll   3  
1913-1921
Roll   3  
Miscellaneous writings undated (6 folders)
Roll   3  
Fragmentary writings
Roll   3  
Announcements of speeches and lectures
Roll   3  
Pamphlets 1881-1920
 
Methodist Ecumenical Conference, London [series]
Roll   4  
1901
Roll   4  
1921
 
African Methodist Episcopal Church [series]
Roll   4  
"History of the A.M.E. Church", by Daniel A. Payne, later edited by Charles S. Smith (manuscript)
Roll   4  
Histories (general)
Roll   4  
Bethel A.M.E. Church 1919
 
Sunday School Union
Roll   4  
Minutes 1886, 1894
Roll   4  
General 1884-1903
Roll   4  
Connectional SS Union printed material
 
General Conference
Roll   4  
1900
Roll   4  
1920
 
South Africa
Roll   4  
1904-1908
Roll   4  
Cape Colony Conference Minutes November 1905
 
Bishops' Council
Roll   4  
1904
Roll   4  
1919
Roll   4  
Smith's communications to Bishops 1904-1905, 1915-1916
Roll   4  
Commission on After-War Problems, Papers 1919
 
Printed material

(Conference minutes, etc.)

Roll   4  
General Conference undated, 1884, 1901, 1920
 
United States
 
Georgia
Roll   4  
Georgia Annual Conference 1909
Roll   5  
Atlanta Georgia Annual Conference 1909
Roll   5  
North Georgia Annual Conference 1911
 
Louisiana
Roll   5  
Louisiana Annual Conference 1901-1903
Roll   5  
North Louisiana Annual Conference 1901, 1902
Roll   5  
Michigan

(Michigan materials have been transferred to the library's printed collection)

 
Texas
Roll   5  
Tenth Episcopal District Annual Conference 1912-1915
Roll   5  
Texas Annual Conference 1913-1915
Roll   5  
Central Texas Annual Conference 1914, 1915
Roll   5  
Northeast Texas Annual Conference 1914
Roll   5  
Southwest Texas Annual Conference 1914, 1915
Roll   5  
West Texas Annual Conference, 1914
 
Foreign
Roll   5  
Bermuda Annual Conference 1916, 1917
Roll   5  
Jamaica Annual Conference 1918
Roll   5  
Nova Scotia Annual Conference 1900, 1901, 1916-1918
Roll   5  
Ontario Annual Conference 1915-1918
 
Clippings and Miscellaneous [series]
Roll   5  
British Methodist Episcopal Church 1877
Roll   5  
A.M.E. miscellanea
Roll   5  
Printed miscellanea
 
Newspaper clippings circa 1875-1923
Roll   5  
Dated clippings
Roll   5  
Undated clippings
Roll   5  
Oversize clippings
Roll   5  
Memorabilia (2 folders)
 
Topical file
Roll   5  
Paul Quinn College
Roll   5  
Morris Brown College 1908-1910
Roll   5  
The Bugle Blast 1896
Roll   5  
Voice of Missions 1904, 1923
Roll   5  
Examination papers (doctrinal questions)
Roll   6  
Miscellanea
 
Christine Shoecraft Smith [series]
Roll   6  
Letters and cards of condolence upon death of CSS 1923 (3 folders)
Roll   6  
Scrapbook

(copies of selected pages)

Roll   6  
Autograph books
 
Charles S. Smith, Jr. [series]
Roll   6  
Personal correspondence and writings 1918-1919
Roll   6  
Official correspondence 1918-1919
Roll   6  
Army notebooks
 
Technical papers
Roll   6  
1917-1918
Roll   6  
1919, undated
 
Books (non-Smith) [series]
Roll   6  
Coleman, Lucretia H. Newman: Poor Ben: a Story of Real Life 1890
Roll   6  
Gaines, Wesley J., D.D.: African Methodism in the South; or Twenty-Five Years of Freedom 1890
 
Photographs [series]
Roll   6  
Portraits of C.S. Smith
Roll   6  
C.S. Smith as part of a larger group
Roll   6  
Family members and unidentified individuals
Roll   6  
Church buildings and missions
Roll   6  
Idlewild, Michigan and Baldwin, Michigan

(African American resort communities)

Roll   6  
Miscellaneous
 
Paper Records [subgrp]
 
Biographical information [series]
Box   1  
Biographical information
Box   1  
Personal miscellanea
 
Correspondence [series]
Box   1  
1879-1900

(scattered)

Box   1  
1900

(letters of congratulation upon his election as A.M.E. bishop)

Box   1  
1901-1904
Box   1  
1905-1906
Box   1  
1907-1909
Box   1  
1910-1916
Box   1  
1917-1919
Box   1  
1920
Box   1  
Correspondence record 1916-1918

(function unclear)

 
Stenographer's notepads of correspondence and other writings [series]
Box   1  
1921-1923
Box   1  
May 1894-August 1894
Box   1  
July-August 1914
Box   1  
May-June 1915
Box   1  
October 17, 1921-February 2, 1922
Box   1  
February 2, 1922-May 20, 1922
Box   1  
May 20, 1922 - January 1923
 
Speeches, sermons, and writings [series]
Box   1  
Political speech 1880
Box   1  
Lecture: "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" (re race relations) 1898 (2 versions)
 
Sermons
Box   1  
1877
Box   1  
1880
Box   1  
1881
Box   1  
Undated (3 folders)
 
Speeches and other writings
Box   1  
1875-1906
Box   1  
1913-1921
Box   2  
Miscellaneous writings undated (6 folders)
Box   2  
Fragmentary writings
Box   2  
Announcements of speeches and lectures
Box   2  
Pamphlets 1881-1920
 
Methodist Ecumenical Conference, London [series]
Box   2  
1901
Box   2  
1921
 
African Methodist Episcopal Church [series]
Box   2  
"History of the A.M.E. Church", by Daniel A. Payne, later edited by Charles S. Smith (manuscript)
Box   3  
Histories (general)
Box   3  
Bethel A.M.E. Church 1919
 
Sunday School Union
Box   3  
Minutes 1886, 1894
Box   3  
General 1884-1903
Box   3  
Connectional SS Union printed material
 
General Conference
Box   3  
1900
Box   3  
1920
 
South Africa
Box   3  
1904-1908
Box   3  
Cape Colony Conference Minutes November 1905
 
Bishops' Council
Box   3  
1904
Box   3  
1919
Box   3  
Smith's communications to Bishops 1904-1905, 1915-1916
Box   3  
Commission on After-War Problems, Papers 1919
 
Printed material

(Conference minutes, etc.)

Box   3  
General Conference undated, 1884, 1901, 1920
 
United States
 
Georgia
Box   3  
Sixth Episcopal District 1907, 1909-1911
Box   3  
Georgia Annual Conference 1909
Box   3  
North Georgia Annual Conference 1911
 
Louisiana
Box   3  
Louisiana Annual Conference 1901-1903
Box   3  
North Louisiana Annual Conference 1901, 1902
Box   3  
Michigan

(Michigan materials have been transferred to the library's printed collection)

 
Texas
Box   3  
Tenth Episcopal District Annual Conference 1912-1915
Box   3  
Texas Annual Conference 1913-1915
Box   3  
Central Texas Annual Conference 1914, 1915
Box   3  
Northeast Texas Annual Conference 1914
Box   3  
Southwest Texas Annual Conference 1914, 1915
Box   3  
West Texas Annual Conference 1914
 
Foreign
Box   3  
Bermuda Annual Conference 1916, 1917
Box   3  
Jamaica Annual Conference 1918
Box   3  
Nova Scotia Annual Conference 1900, 1901, 1916-1918
Box   3  
Ontario Annual Conference 1915-1918
 
Clippings and Miscellaneous [series]
Box   3  
British Methodist Episcopal Church 1877
Box   3  
A.M.E. miscellanea
Box   3  
Printed miscellanea
 
Newspaper clippings circa 1875-1923
Box   3  
Dated clippings
Box   3  
Undated clippings
Box   3  
Oversize clippings
Box   3  
Memorabilia (2 folders)
 
Topical file
Box   3  
Paul Quinn College
Box   3  
Morris Brown College 1908-1910
Box   3  
The Bugle Blast 1896
Box   3  
Voice of Missions 1904, 1923
Box   3  
Examination papers (doctrinal questions)
Box   3  
Miscellanea
 
Christine Shoecraft Smith [series]
Box   4  
Letters and cards of condolence upon death of CSS 1923 (3 folders)
Box   4  
Scrapbook

(copies of selected pages)

Box   4  
Autograph books
 
Charles S. Smith, Jr. [series]
Box   4  
Personal correspondence and writings 1918-1919
Box   4  
Official correspondence 1918-1919
Box   4  
Army notebooks
 
Technical papers
Box   4  
1917-1918
Box   4  
1919, undated
 
Books (non-Smith) [series]
Box   4  
Coleman, Lucretia H. Newman: Poor Ben: A Story of Real Life, 1890
Box   4  
Gaines, Wesley J., D.D.: African Methodism in the South; or Twenty-Five Years of Freedom, 1890
Box   4  
Johnson, Edward A., LL.B.: A School History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1890 with a Short Introduction as to the Origin of the Race; also a Short Sketch of Liberia, 1891
Box   4  
Payne, Daniel A., D.D., LL.D.: A Treatise on Domestic Education, 1885
 
Photographs [series]
Box   4  
Portraits of C.S. Smith
Box   4  
C.S. Smith as part of a larger group
Box   4  
Family members and unidentified individuals
Box   4  
Church buildings and missions
Box   4  
Idlewild, Michigan and Baldwin, Michigan

(African American resort communities)

Box   4  
Miscellaneous