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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 433

Papers of Corinna Lindon Smith, 1851-1966


Correspondence, drafts, clippings, etc., of Corinna Putnam Smith, lecturer and civic reformer.


  • Creation: 1851-1966

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Corinna Lindon Smith is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


12.51 linear feet ((30 file boxes) plus 6 folio folders, 6 folio+ folders, 5 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 87 photograph folders)

Series I, Personal and biographical, #1-270, includes genealogy charts, papers relating to her siblings, clippings about Smith, her engagement calendars, and other personal documents. A large part of this series consists of the correspondence of Smith and her parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and other relatives. There are also several folders of nineteenth-century letters of Smith's mother's family, the Shepards.

Series II, Work, #271-430, is divided into three subseries: World War I, Indian Affairs, and Narcotics.

Subseries II A, World War I, consists of correspondence, reports, travel passes, and other documents relating to Smith's relief efforts. The subseries includes materials relating to her work with the "Children of the Frontier," and her field work, research, and writings about the devastation and post-war reconstruction of French industry. Correspondents include Herbert Anslinger, A.J. Chesley, Oliver Lafarge, and Savoie Lottinville. Materials relating to her study of Arabic and her writings about the Middle East and Islam are in Series III (#529-611).

Subseries II B, Indian Affairs, includes correspondence, newsletters, documents, and clippings about Smith's long career as an advocate of civil rights for Native Americans: her work with public health programs for Native Americans (especially with regard to tuberculosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever), and with the Association for American Indian Affairs. Other topics include Indian home care, litigation over water rights, and civil rights legislation.

Subseries II C, Narcotics. In the 1940s, Smith was active in efforts to stop narcotics abuse. She served as the advisor on narcotics to the Public Welfare Division of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. This subseries is comprised of correspondence, reports, and clippings on legislation against narcotics use, the regulation of opium production in other countries, anti-drug abuse education, and the cure and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

Series III, Writings and speeches, #431-638, consists primarily of drafts by Smith, many written for her autobiography, Interesting People, and others for a book, never published, tentatively called Allah in Moslem Life. There are also a few folders of speeches and some short stories and plays. Also in this series are drafts by Joseph Lindon Smith, reviews of Smith's books, correspondence with publishers, and notebooks and journals Smith kept during her world travels, which she used as sources for her books.

Series IV, Correspondence, #639-813, includes 70 years of Smith's correspondence, both business and personal. Business correspondence, which includes invoices, financial letters, and formal correspondence between Smith and acquaintances is followed by correspondence with particular friends, including Nicholas Roosevelt, Isabella Gardner, and August Jacacci, which is arranged in alphabetical order. The series concludes with correspondence, arranged in chronological order, with other friends. Correspondence in other series pertains only to the subjects of those series (e.g., family correspondence in Series I, work-related correspondence in Series II, and correspondence with publishers and editors in Series III).


Corinna Haven (Putnam) Smith was born on September 27, 1876, in New York City, the daughter of George Haven Putnam (the son of George Palmer Putnam, founder of the publishing firm of G.P. Putnam's Sons) and Rebecca Kettel (Shepard) Putnam. She had four sisters: Dorothy Lesley, Ellen, Ethel ("Tuff") Frothingham, and Bertha Haven. The Putnam family, which had long-standing roots in New England, socialized with many famous and influential people, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, O. Henry, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), and Thomas Hardy. Smith's paternal aunt was the well-known physician and suffragist, Mary Putnam Jacobi.

After the death of Rebecca Putnam of typhoid fever in 1895, George Haven Putnam remarried in 1899. His second wife was Emily James, a former dean of Barnard College; Smith's half-brother, Palmer Coslett Putnam, was born from this marriage.

Smith entered Bryn Mawr College in 1893. Although she was bright, she was not inclined toward academics and left college before graduating. Her sister Bertha graduated from Bryn Mawr, earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and subsequently became a well-known scholar of medieval British law and a professor at Mount Holyoke College.

After her mother's death, Smith assumed the management of the Putnam household while also working long hours for the William McKinley/Theodore Roosevelt Republican Presidential campaign of 1896. During this period, she attended sophisticated house parties and began to frequent nightclubs. Concerned about his high-spirited daughter's well-being, George Haven Putnam took her on a European tour in 1897.

She met the artist Joseph Lindon Smith in Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1898; they were married September 18, 1899. In November of that year, Smith, Joseph Lindon Smith, and his parents traveled to Egypt, where Joseph Lindon Smith painted art treasures recovered during archaeological digs. The Smiths spent much of their fifty-one-year marriage living abroad, especially in Egypt. Fascinated by Middle Eastern culture, Smith began studying classical Arabic in 1901, eventually becoming fluent in the language. Although a staunch Christian, she was a serious student of Islam, passing a stringent oral exam conducted in Arabic by Muslim religious leaders on Islam and the Koran.

The Smiths had three daughters: Rebecca (born 1902), Frances (also known as Bina, born 1903), and Lois Lindon (also known as Bois, born 1911). The family led a cosmopolitan life and their high-profile social milieu included such personalities as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Isabella Stewart Gardner, John Singer Sargent, and Amelia Earhart, who married Smith's cousin, George Palmer Putnam. Smith and Joseph Lindon Smith entertained frequently, and their summer house, "Loon Point," on Dublin Lake in New Hampshire, included an open-air theatre for the many spectacular plays and pageants they sponsored. In addition, the family occupied a house in Boston.

Smith's father-in-law, Henry Francis Smith, handled all financial transactions for his son and daughter-in-law, who had to ask for money from him each time they needed it. This and other factors impelled Smith to look for work, and in 1909 she signed up with a lecture bureau and began her career as a professional speaker, lecturing on Egyptian archaeology, Islam, and literati such as Henry James and Thomas Hardy.

During World War I, she and her husband worked with the Comité Franco-Américain pour la Protection des Enfants de la Frontier (Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier), which provided assistance to impoverished French children and their families and was headquartered in Paris. The committee's president was Auguste Jacacci, who became a life-long friend of the Smiths. In 1916, the Smiths traveled to France to visit the front and aid people devastated by the war. They returned to France in 1917, spending most of that trip visiting General John J. Pershing and his troops in the American war zone. Joseph Lindon Smith stayed in France until the end of the war, while Smith immersed herself in public lecturing in the United States on behalf of the war effort, French children's relief work, and the Red Cross. In November 1918, just before the armistice was declared, she returned to France and rejoined her husband.

Rebecca Smith graduated from high school in 1920, and that year Smith took her to France. At the request of Colonel Prangez, the head of the Bureau for the Reconstruction of Industry in France, Smith undertook a three-week tour of France and Germany to assess the damage suffered by over 200 factories in the two countries. As a result of this expedition, she wrote Rising Above the Ruins in France, which was published in 1920.

Smith returned to the United States and, after recuperating from the stress of wartime, began working with Native Americans. She joined the Executive Committee of the Eastern Association (later known as the Association on American Indian Affairs) in 1924; two years later, the General Federation of Women's Clubs appointed her its national chair of Indian Welfare.

The Smiths resumed their world travels in the 1920s, and spent much of the next two-and-a-half decades in the Middle East, based primarily at the Harvard Camp excavations near Giza in Egypt, but also journeying to Israel, Turkey, Iran, and other countries. Joseph Lindon Smith's career drawing and painting ancient artifacts took the couple to far-flung locales, including Japan, Java, and Southeast Asia. After a long, prolific, and distinguished career, Joseph Lindon Smith died in Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1950. After his death, Smith adopted his middle name, calling herself Corinna Lindon Smith.

Although suffering from frequent illnesses, Smith spent the next fifteen years energetically working for diverse causes, including Native American rights, public health programs, narcotics control, and the rehabilitation of former female prisoners. Her interest in ancient civilizations never flagged, and she maintained her membership in a number of organizations promoting the study of Middle Eastern history and art, including the American Research Center in Egypt. As the grande dame of Dublin, she remained active in the community life of her beloved town until her death in 1965.

Smith was the author of two books: Rising Above the Ruins in France: An Account of the Progress Made Since the Armistice in the Devastated Regions in Reestablishing Industrial Activities and the Normal Life of the People (with Caroline R. Hill, New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920) and Interesting People: Eighty Years With the Great and Near Great (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962), and edited Tombs, Temples, and Ancient Art by Joseph Lindon Smith (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956).


Corinna Putnam Smith's papers consist primarily of work-related materials, drafts of her writings, and correspondence. They are divided into five series:

  1. Series I. Personal and biographical
  2. Series II. Work
  3. ___Subseries A. World War I
  4. ___Subseries B. Indian Affairs
  5. ___Subseries C. Narcotics
  6. III. Writings and speeches
  7. IV. Correspondence

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 77-M147, 78-M231, 84-M50, 93-M24

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Jessie Hale, Corinna Putnam Smith's granddaughter, in September 1977. Addenda were received from her, via the Dublin (N.H.) Historical Society, in February 1993. Some of the materials that had been transferred to the Archives of American Art were returned to the Schlesinger Library in June 1978 and April 1984.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the papers of Smith's aunt, Mary Putnam Jacobi, 1851-1974 (A-26).


  1. Box 1: 1-68
  2. Box 2: 69-102
  3. Box 3: 103-141
  4. Box 4: 142v-173
  5. Box 5: 174-203
  6. Box 6: 204-229
  7. Box 7: 230-256
  8. Box 8: 257-285
  9. Box 9: 286-311
  10. Box 10: 312-347
  11. Box 11: 348-377
  12. Box 12: 378-400
  13. Box 13: 401-422
  14. Box 14: 423-455
  15. Box 15: 456-475
  16. Box 16: 476-493
  17. Box 17: 494-512
  18. Box 18: 513-534
  19. Box 19: 535-552
  20. Box 20: 553-571
  21. Box 21: 572-589
  22. Box 22: 590-612
  23. Box 23: 613-642
  24. Box 24: 643-668
  25. Box 25: 669-692
  26. Box 26: 693-719
  27. Box 27: 720-742
  28. Box 28: 743-770
  29. Box 29: 771-791
  30. Box 30: 792-811

Processing Information

Processed: November 1995

By: Siobhán Houston and Susan von Salis

Smith, Corinna Lindon, 1876-1965. Papers of Corinna Lindon Smith, 1851-1966: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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