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Responding & Organizing Against Racism at Smith

A workshop for Otelia Cromwell Day 2019

Resources in the Smith College Archives

Subject Files

  • Black Students (contains general information about black students at Smith)
  • Blackface (contains images and texts found in CA collection. Discretion advised)
  • “Pearls and Cashmere” Spring 2012 (relating to Anne Spurzem ’85 letter)
  • “Mobilizing Smith” Spring 2012 (more in-depth responses to Spurzem and Parsons House)
  • NYC Alumnae Panel, Fall 2014 (Wendy Kamimer ’75 and the “N-word”)


Using the dates on the document prepared by the BSA in the “NYC Alumnae Panel” file, students can identify Sophian articles reporting on various racially motivated incidents on campus.

Student Organization Files

  • African Students Organization, 1988-1993
  • Al-Iman Association, 1990-2010
  • Association of Asian Students, 1986-1995
  • Black Student Alliance (BSA), 1968-
  • Chinese Inter-Regional Student Cultural Organization (CISCO), 2013
  • Celebration, 1991-2008
  • Concerned Students of All Colors (CSAC) 1987-89
  • South Asian Students of Smith (EKTA), 1987-
  • Indigenous Americans of Smith, 1995
  • Korean American Students of Smith (KASS), 1985-
  • Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance, 1974-
  • Multi-ethnic Interracial Smith College (MISC), 2012-
  • Nosotras, 1983-
  • Queer Action Coalition, n.d.
  • Smith African & Caribbean Students Association (SACSA), 2007-
  • Society Organized Against Racism (SOAR), 1982-
  • South African Students Organization (SASO), 1994-
  • Students Grassroots Organizing Group, Spring 2002,
  • Transcending Gender, 2011-
  • Unity Organization, 1990-

Demonstrations Files

  • College Hall Occupation 1986 (divestiture from South African investments)
  • College Hall Occupation, 1990 (multicultural organization space)
  • Blackface Incident Fall 2007 “Rehab party”
  • Q&A: Transwomen Belong at Smith College, 2014

Office of the President Files

Office of Multicultural Affairs/Diversity Files

Files from this office relate to the establishment of:

  • Mwangi Cultural Center
  • Bridge Program
  • I.S. 201 program
  • Unity Organization

Alumnae Oral History Project, 2010-present

A number of oral history interviews with Smith Alumnae discuss issues of race at Smith. Search the link using the keyword ‘race’ to identify individual oral histories exploring this topic.

Nosotras Oral History Project “Latinas @Smith—Nosotras Testimonios,” 2011

Includes oral history interviews with Latina women from the Classes of 2012-2014. Transcripts of the oral histories and project records are also included. Interviews are filed with the College Archives Audio-Visual Collection.

Weaving Voices Intergenerational Archives Project, 2012

A collection of email messages, memos, correspondence, oral history interviews and transcripts, project files, and collected material relating to Smith College student reaction to the Anne Spurzem ’86 letter to the Sophian that prompted the “Pearls & Cashmere” and “Mobilizing Smith” campaigns. Hate notes found in Parsons House prompted student responses documented in the material. All-Campus Meeting letter; minutes of the Intergenerational Dialogue held in Helen Hills Hills Chapel are among the primary source materials in the collection.

Smith Centennial Study Oral History Project, 1975

An oral history project sponsored by the College as part of its 100th anniversary celebration. Interviewees discuss a variety of issues, including race and the reactions to minority students at Smith. A subject file, containing clippings from interviews is available. Identification of the interviewees is possible via the transcript clippings.

Interviewees of interest:

  • Joyce Finley Garrett ’53
  • Sumiko Fujiwara Enbutsu ‘60
  • Adelaide Cromwell [Gulliver] ’40
  • Victoria Garcia ‘70
  • Louise Hall ’68
  • Setsuko Ohare Haruta ‘64
  • Euphemia Lofton Haynes ’1914
  • Kayolo Saito Kodama ‘59
  • Leontine Palmer Jackson ’69
  • Miyoko Sasaki ‘59

Smith College Medal Committee files

In 1962, the Alumnae Association began awarding the Smith College Medal. As the years progressed, a number of women of color received this honor. Biographical files of medalists are available and open for research.

Smith College Medal Recipients (partial listing)

  • Adelaide Cromwell [Gulliver] ’40, SCM 1971
  • Lillian B. Witten Mosee ‘1919, SCM 1974
  • Glenda Copes Reed ’66, SCM 1982
  • Elizabeth McCard Shipley ’28, SCM 1990
  • Jane C. Wright ’42, SCM 1968
  • Elizabeth J. Kanikeolani Low ‘1917, SCM 1970
  • Thelma Golden ’87, SCM 1997
  • Pearl Yau Toy ’69, SCM 1991

Alumnae Biographical Files, 1879-

The College Archives had a collection of Alumnae Biographical Files that are part of the Class Records. It appears these files were originally maintained by the Alumnae Association, and over the years the contents of the files have been contributed by the alumnae, family and friends. While a large majority of Smith alumnae are represented, not all have files. An in-house database is available to search names.

Otelia Cromwell

Biographical information about Otelia Cromwell can be found in:

  • Class of 1900 records, Alumnae Biographical files
  • Office of the Registrar, Transcripts, Class of 1900 A-Z
  • Honorary Degree files
  • Special Events, 75th anniversary files

Otelia Cromwell Day

Information about the formation of Otelia Cromwell Day can be found in:

Religious Organizations, 1892-

Founded as the Smith College Association for Christian Work (SCACW) in 1892, it was developed to ‘promote a broad and intelligent activity in the cause of humanity…’ in a variety of ways. As the organization aged, it changed its name to Smith College Religious Association, but remained committed to administering to the spiritual and social needs of all faiths. Some of the file titles listed below are indicative of the work of the group relating to race and bias.

  • African Scholarships, 1941-2002
  • Hillel Foundation, 1942-present
  • Race Relations—InterRace Committee 1939-1951

Smith College Websites

Special Collections Exhibit Files

Blackface Exhibit Controversy, Summer 1996, Box 36.8 
Contains photocopies of the physical exhibit; reaction pieces concerning the exhibit by Library administration; original comments by SSW students. Oversize materials are in map cases. See files in box.

THIS IS NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LISTING. You may find more connections as your work continues.