James Bryant Smith collection
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James Bryant Smith collection

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Auburn Avenue Research Library
Creator: Smith, Florence, 1922-2001
Creator: Smith, James Bryant, 1917-1993
Title: James Bryant Smith collection
Dates: 1942-1980
Quantity: 9.0 Linear feet 9 linear ft. (18 document boxes, 5 oversized boxes)
Abstract:This collection contains papers and artifacts from the life of Tuskegee Airman James Bryant Smith. A variety of materials and formats are included, from documents and photographs to three-dimensional objects. The bulk of the materials relate to Smith's time in the U. S. Army during World War II and the Korean War, including correspondence with his wife, military publications, and standard military-issued items. Two smaller series of documents represent the personal lives of James and Florence Smith apart from the military, and they include a wide range of financial, volunteer, and religious materials.
Identification: aarl009-010

Biographical/Historical Note

James Bryant Smith was born on July 8, 1917 in Columbus, Ohio. He attended both Ohio State University and Central Michigan University, and he was a member of the Alpha Rho Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. In 1942, at the age of 25, Smith enlisted in the United States Army. Upon his successful completion of basic training, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and trained as a Tuskegee Airman at Tuskegee Air Field.

In 1942, Smith married Florence Evelyn Jordan in Ohio. Florence was born on November 11, 1922 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia to James Monroe Jordan and Aurilla Harper. When Florence was a teenager, her mother remarried Robert C.E. Gutherie. Florence Smith received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work at Ohio State University. According to letters exchanged by the couple, they were engaged in January 1942 and married several months later in May. In January 1943, the couple left Ohio for Tuskegee, Alabama, and their first child, James, was born in April. In 1944, she contributed to the war effort through her employment at the Curtiss-Wright Corporation's airplane division in Columbus, Ohio. During the early part of James Smith’s military career, Florence continued to reside in Columbus with their growing family. Over the years, James and Florence had two additional sons: David D. Smith and Mark B. Smith.

As a Tuskegee Airman, Smith trained as a fighter pilot with the 1155th Single Engine Flying Training Squadron (S.E.F.T.S.) at the Tuskegee Air Field in Alabama. Smith remained a career serviceman after World War II ended and received orders to serve in various training capacities in Hawaii and Colorado. When the Korean War broke out, he once again served active duty and was a Prisoner of War for three months in 1950 (July 26 - October 20). From 1963-1966, James Smith was heavily involved with the Davy Crockett Nuclear Weapons System.

James Smith retired from the Army with the rank of Colonel, he taught art and psychology courses and was a boxing judge for the American Amateur Boxing Association. He and Florence Jordan Smith volunteered as docents at the Columbus Museum of Art. Florence Smith was particularly active in volunteering her time to local organizations. As President of the Columbus Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction, she helped guide local teens to make better life decisions. She was also involved with the Columbus Chapter of the International Program, which sponsored social workers from other countries to live with host families and work in the United States. In 2001, her volunteer efforts were recognized by the President of the United States when she was awarded the Jefferson Award for Volunteer Service.

On February 1, 1993, Smith died in his home in Columbus, Ohio. As a retired serviceman, Smith was eligible for interment at Arlington National Cemetery and is buried at Site 3242 in Section 64. Florence survived him by eight years and died on December 21, 2001 in Sacramento, California.


Scope and Content Note

This collection contains personal papers and artifacts saved by James Bryant Smith throughout his life. The largest series consists of correspondence between Smith and his wife, Florence Evelyn Jordan Smith, throughout his service during and immediately following World War II. Also dating from his time in the military are three series of military papers, publications, and artifacts. As a Tuskegee Airman, most of the military correspondence and paperwork corresponds to weapons reports and checklists, along with lesson plans and homework from infantry school. Closely related are the military publications, many of which are aircraft, weapons, or radio operation manuals. Several oversized boxes of artifacts include Smith’s military-issued uniform and a variety of small items, such as a hairnet, a pocket knife, and insignia.

Although the majority of the collection relates to Smith's service as a Tuskegee Airman, three series of materials pertain to his and Florence’s personal lives. Florence was an active volunteer in several Columbus, Ohio organizations, but only her work for the Columbus Area International Program is included in the collection. All of the couple's surviving bank and insurance paperwork is filed under Smith's personal papers, separate from his military records. Most of the photographs included in the collection do not feature Smith or his wife, but rather what are presumed to be his grandchildren.


Arrangement

The collection is arranged by series.

Series 1: Correspondence Series 2: James Bryant Smith Papers Series 3: Florence Smith Papers Series 4: Photographs and Artwork Series 5: Military Papers Series 6: Military Printed Materials and Publications Series 7: Artifacts and Ephemera


Index Terms

African American air pilots.
Columbus International Program.
Exchange of persons programs--Ohio--Columbus
Korean War, 1950-1953--Participation, African American
Schofield Barracks (Hawaii)
Tuskegee Army Air Field (Ala.)
United States. Army Air Forces. -- African American troops
United States. Army. Infantry Division, 25th.
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, African American

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

AARL purchased this collection in 2010.


Restrictions

Conditions Governing Use note

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Container List

 

Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-1970

This series includes correspondence between James Bryant Smith and his wife Florence, the bulk of which was written during his army service in the 1940s. Folders have been arranged chronologically.

Box

Fldr

11Correspondence, 1942
2Correspondence, 1943 January-March
3-4Correspondence, 1943 March
5Correspondence, 1943 April
6-7Correspondence, 1943 May

Box

Fldr

21-2Correspondence, 1943 June
3-4Correspondence, 1943 July
5-6Correspondence, 1943 August

Box

Fldr

31-2Correspondence, 1943 September
3-4Correspondence, 1943 October
5Correspondence, 1943 December
6Correspondence, 1944 January

Box

Fldr

41-2Correspondence, 1944 January
3-4Correspondence, 1944 February
5Correspondence, 1944 March-April
6-7Correspondence, 1944 May

Box

Fldr

51-2Correspondence, 1944 June
3Correspondence, 1944 July
4Correspondence, 1944 August
5-6Correspondence, 1944 September

Box

Fldr

61-2Correspondence, 1944 October
3-4Correspondence, 1944 November
5Correspondence, 1944 December
6Correspondence, 1945 January-February
7Correspondence, 1945 March-July

Box

Fldr

71Correspondence, 1946 October-December
2Correspondence, 1948-1949
3Correspondence, 1949 October-November
4-5Correspondence, 1949 November
6Correspondence, 1950-1964
7Correspondence, undated
 

Series 2: James Bryant Smith Papers

A significant portion of papers saved by Smith do not relate to his military service, and they have been compiled under the general heading of personal papers. This series contains a wide range of documents, including correspondence from banks and insurance companies, religious materials, and receipts. Folders have been arranged alphabetically.

Box

Fldr

81American Express Company, 1958-1959
2Automobile Insurance Policies, 1952-1964, Undated
3"A White Folks' War?", Undated
4Bank Account Statements, 1958-1964
5Blank Paper, Undated
6Bishop National Bank Checkbook, Undated
7Christian Science Society, 1945-1964
8City of Columbus Water and Sewer Bill, 1963
9Course Description, Undated
10Envelopes, 1961-1964, Undated
11Great American Insurance Company, 1964
12Journal Entries, Undated
13Life Insurance Policies, 1953-1965
14Manheim, Germany, 1958-1959

Box

Fldr

91Miscellaneous, Undated
2Newspaper Clippings, 1956-1967
3Notebooks (1 of 2), Undated
4Notebooks (2 of 2), 1953-1959
5Notes, Undated
6Panohio Mortgages, Inc., 1962
7Real Estate Purchases, 1962-1964
8Receipts (1 of 3), 1959-1960
9Receipts (2 of 3), 1960
10Receipts (3 of 3), 1960-1962
11Spiegel, 1944

Box

Fldr

101The City National Bank and Trust Company (1 of 2), 1961-1962
2The City National Bank and Trust Company (2 of 2), 1962-1964
3The Huntingdon National Bank, 1961-1962
4Veterans Administration, 1961-1962
5Warranty Information, 1958
 

Series 3: Florence Smith Papers

A small segment of the collection relates to Florence Smith's volunteer activities with the Columbus Area International Program, an international exchange program for professional organizations in the Columbus area. One folder contains her personal financial and identification records, which were kept separate from her husband's records (located in Series II). Folders have been arranged alphabetically.

Box

Fldr

106Columbus Area International Program, Host Families, 1978-1981
7Columbus Area International Program, Minutes, Memos, and By-Laws (1 of 2), 1975-1980
8Columbus Area International Program, Minutes, Memos, and By-Laws (2 of 2), 1973-1981
9Columbus Area International Program, Participant Profiles, 1974-1981
10Columbus Area International Program, Promotional Material, 1978-1980
11Columbus Area International Program, Revenue and Expense Reports, 1980
12Florence Smith's Financial Records, Undated
 

Series 4: Photographs

This series contains James Bryant and Florence Smith's personal photographs. Several date from Smith's military service, but the majority document family gatherings. Folders have been arranged alphabetically by photographs' subjects.

Artifact

1Paintings on canvas, 4.0 items

Box

Fldr

111Booker T. Washington
2-3Family
4Family and Columbus Area International Program
5Florence Smith
6James Bryant Smith
7James Bryant and Florence Smith
8Kehlsteinhaus Lifttunel
9Negatives
10Unknown Army Officer
 

Series 5: Military Papers

The bulk of this series contains documents from Smith's service in the 25th Infantry Division Association, based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. The majority of the contents are lesson plans and homework assignments regarding various infantry weapons, correspondence from officers and fellow soldiers, and forms for weapons testing. There are also miscellaneous items that Smith saved, from travel guides and measurement tools to receipts and checkbooks. Folders have been arranged alphabetically.

Box

Fldr

12125th Infantry Division Association, 1963
235th Infantry Regiment, 1955-1963
3Cacti Chapter Membership and Recommendations, 1960-1963
4Cacti Chapter Minutes and Receipts, 1955-1964, Undated
5Computers Records, 1965, Undated
6Davy Crockett Platoon Papers - Operations, 1963, Undated
7Davy Crockett Platoon Papers - Training, 1963-1965
8Davy Crockett Weapons Program, 1961-1966
9Fire Direction Center, Undated
10Firing Tables, 1963
11Frankford Arsenal Manual, 1963

Box

Fldr

131Handbooks and Pamphlets, 1944-1980, Undated
2Infantry Papers, 1955-1964, Undated
3Infantry School Homework Assignments, 1954-1965, Undated
4Insignia Papers, 1961-1962
5Inspection Checklists, 1963-1965
6Inventory of Household Goods, Undated
7Lesson Plans, 1965, Undated
8Maps, 1964-1965
9Measurement Guides, 1952, Undated
10Military Correspondence, 1958-1963
11Notebook, Undated

Box

Fldr

141-2Notes, Handwritten, Undated
3Nuclear Weapons Surety Group, 1965
4Observation of Fire Forms, 1962
5Personnel, 1961-1966
6Receipts, 1944-1965, Undated
7Schofield Barracks, 1960-1964
8Special Orders/Requests, 1943-1963, Undated
9Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the US Army (SAEDA), Undated
10Telegram, September 8, 1950
11Training Memorandum, Number 350-9, 1966, Undated
12Travel Guides, 1962, Undated
13Work Orders, 1954-1961, Undated

Box

19Cacti Chapter Checkbook
 

Series 6: Military Printed Materials and Publications

This series contains items published by the United States Military, mostly concerning airplane and weapon systems. Publications have been arranged alphabetically.

Box

Fldr

151A Guide for Davy Crockett Technical Proficiency Inspection, 1964
2Aircraft Electrical Systems, 1945
3Aircraft Inspection, B-17 Series, 1944
4Aircraft Inspection, B-17 Series Aircraft, 1945
5Aircraft Woodwork, 1942
6Airplane Inspection Guide and Airplane Power, 1942-1943
7Ammunition General, 1956 June
8Cavalier, 1965 December
9CBR Monitor Handbook, Undated
10Chemical and Biological Weapons and Nuclear Warfare, 1963
11Chemical Corps Reference Handbook, 1963

Box

Fldr

161Davy Crockett Weapons System, 1963-1964
2Extension Course Catalog, 1965
3Heavy Weapons Company Infantry Regiment, 1949
4Manual for Courts-Martial (1951)

Box

Fldr

171Manual for Courts-Martial (1951), Cumulative Pocket Part, 1953
2Manual for Courts-Martial (1951), Cumulative Pocket Part, 1959

Drawer

42Maps

Box

Fldr

173Military Justice Handbook, 1962
4Pilot Training Manual for the Flying Fortress B-17, Undated
5Problems for Davy Crockett Computer, 1965
6Problems for Davy Crockett, Officers Candidates, 1965
7Problems for the 4.2-Inch Mortar, 1965
8Radiotelephone Procedure and Communication Security, 1965
9Radiotelephone Procedure, Workbooklet, 1965
10Repair Parts and Special Tools List, M28 and M29, 1964
11Spoken Thai, Basic Course, 1945
12Technical Manual Aircraft Electrical Systems, 1942
13Technical Manual, Radiosets SCR 536A-C, 1943
14Technical Proficiency Inspections, 1963

Box

Fldr

181 The Flight of the Southern Cross, 1929
2Topographic Symbols, 1952
3United States Army Infantry School, 1965
4United States Navy Patter, Flight Maneuvers for Primary Training, 1942
5Use of Radio Controlled Airplane Targets, 1944
6Writing Handbook, 1969
 

Series 7: Artifacts and Ephemera

Numerous items commonly issued to soldiers by the United States Military were saved by Smith and have been placed in oversized boxes. These boxes include both clothing, such as jackets and socks, as well as everyday items like pocket knives and lip balm.

Box

Fldr

191Belt Buckle
2Calculator Set & Protractor
3Can Opener
4Collapsible Cup
5Eyeshields
6Felt Squares
7"First at Vicksburg" Emblem
8Folding Pocket Knife
9-10Foot Powder
11Hairnet
12Kennedy Lapel Pin
13Leather Strip
14Lighter, Cacti Symbol
15Lighter, Engraved
16Matchbooks
17-18Military Insignia
19Muslin Bandage
20Pencils
21Protective Lip Balm (2)
22Ration Coupons
23Small Pen Light with Light Bulb
24Stamps
25Staple Remover
26Troop Leading Materials
Reel to Reel Tapes (2)
Wooden Tent Stakes (3)
Military Hat
Felt Bandage
Suspenders
Knife Holder
Camouflage Netting
Oven Mitt
Plastic Ruler
Pair of Socks
Razor in Case

Box

20Green netting with ribbons

Box

21Operation Map
First National Bank of Hawaii checkbook
Graphical firing scale for weapons system

Box

22Green felt cap
Camouflage Helmet cover
Beige underwear
Navy Pennants with H and 13 (2)
Green netted laundry bag
Flag, American
Flag, red, white, blue with 17 stars

Box

23Rain jacket
Pair of rain pants
Army uniform jacket, light green
Army uniform jacket, dark green

Oversize

OV1Paintings (2)

Drawer

57Painting