Joe Smith Papers, 1890-1962  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Smith, Joe, 1872-1962
Title
Joe Smith Papers
Dates
1890-1962 (inclusive)
Quantity
10.90 cubic feet (25 boxes)
Collection Number
0252 (Accession No. 0252-001)
Summary
Farmer, Populist politician, and journalist in Eastern Washington and Seattle
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Joe Smith was a wheat farmer, a political activist for Populist and Progressive causes, and a prominent newspaper reporter. Although successful as a journalist, Smith never won any of his several bids for public office.

Smith was born in Missouri in 1872. His family moved to Endicott, Washington, in 1883 to homestead. His father, Lillis F. Smith, slowly expanded his landholdings and became one of the larger wheat farmers in the Palouse. In 1889, at the age of 16, Joe Smith began keeping a meticulously detailed diary while working on his father's farm. Smith was sent back to the family home in 1889. While there, he attended Missouri State University (now the University of Missouri) from 1890 to 1892. Although Smith's activities during this period were principally confined to the University and his studies there, he did make one train trip through the West; at which time he recorded his impressions of such western towns as Kansas City, Ogden, and Salt Lake City. Following a major fire on the Missouri State campus in 1892, Smith returned to Endicott. It would be several years before he completed his formal education, and then it would be taken at the Washington Agricultral College of Washington State University in Pullman. During these years, he still worked on the farm occasionally, even through a severe agricultural depression.

Smith began writing for the Spokane Spokesman-Herald and smaller Eastern Washington papers in the mid 1890s. The agricultural depression of the 1890s drove Smith to join the Populist Party. He served as a Populist precinct committeeman and campaign worker, as well as writing newspaper stories friendly to the Populists. His diaries thus describe in detail politics in the Palouse country during the 1890s.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Smith volunteered for the Army. He also agreed to cover the war for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He saw action in 17 battles in the Philippines during the war and the subsequent Philippine Insurrection of 1899. Smith entered the Army as a sergeant major, and left in 1899 as a first lieutenant.

The articles published in the P-I established Smith's reputation as an excellent journalist. Smith settled in Seattle when he returned from the Philippines and married Emma Fonner in 1899. He worked for a myriad of papers; the P-I, Seattle Times, Seattle Star, and Seattle Union Record all hired Smith at one point or another. He covered Seattle politics and also reported on every session of the state legislature in Olympia from 1901 to 1919. He also covered most gubernatorial campaigns for this period. In addition, Smith edited and published a horticultural catalog, Joe's Seed Bulletin, for more than 40 years beginning in the 1910s. Smith, however, failed in his 1917 attempt to start his own weekly paper, called Joemma Jottings, in tiny Longbranch, Washington.

Joe Smith was also a political activist. He worked in the movement for passing the initiative and referendum laws. He served as chairman of the Direct Legislation Committee in 1907 and then as Secretary-Treasurer of the Seattle Direct Legislation League for several years starting in 1908. Also in 1908, he was secretary of the LaFollette Presidential Committee. He supported a number of other Progressive causes, including strengthening the power of Seattle City Light. Smith was one of the founders of the Seattle Municipal League, a powerful civic reform group created in 1910. When Mayor Hiram Gill expanded Seattle's "vice district" Smith played a very active role in the Municipal League's successful effort to recall Gill in 1911. Gill's replacement, Mayor George Dilling, picked Smith as his personal secretary. Smith and Dilling, however, soon had a falling out. Smith quit and then ran, unsuccessfully, for City Council in 1911. Smith joined the Progressive Party when it split off from the Republicans in 1912. He helped run Theodore Roosevelt's campaign in Seattle.

There is a gap in the Smith Papers from 1920 until the mid 1930s. During this time, Smith continued to work as a reporter and as editor of Joe's Seed Bulletin. In addition, Smith had switched political parties, becoming a Democrat, at some point during this period. In 1936 Smith ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature. In 1940 he sought, but did not obtain, the Democratic nomination for governor. Smith went into semi-retirement in 1941. He wrote a few articles in the 1940s and 1950s, mostly opinion pieces and reminiscences. He also began an autobiography but never finished it. Joe Smith died in 1962.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Smith's diaries are the single largest portion of the accession. There are 280 volumes in all; they cover 1889-97, 1911, and 1946. The diaries describe in detail agricultural practices and Populist politics in the Palouse. The diary for 1911 contains material on Mayor Gill's recall and Mayor Dilling's administration. The years 1897-1910, 1919-20, and 1941 are documented by notebooks rather than diaries. Some notebook entries are similar to Smith's diary entries--very descriptive and well thought out. However, most entries in the notebooks are brief and sometimes cryptic notes that Smith took on the progress of various bills in the state legislature and during interviews with state legislators. The notebooks also contain notes on Seattle politics and on interviews Smith conducted on non-political subjects.

The correspondence series contains additional material on Seattle and Washington politics. The letters cover the period from 1892 to 1957. Incoming and outgoing letters have been interfiled and arranged chronologically. This accession also contains a number of Smith's writings and publications. The writings are mostly newspaper articles, drafts of his autobiography, and reminiscences. His newspaper articles are on both political and agricultural topics. The accession also has small subject series that document the activities of Seattle City Light, the public power campaign in Washington during the 1930s and 1940s, and Smith's campaigns for public office. It also contains Smith's financial records and several photographs.

All material relating to the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection is kept in a separate subgroup. These include some correspondence, Smith's diary from 1898, his reports, his published articles, muster rolls for Smith's company, and a transcript of a court martial.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

The repository has copies of Joe's Seed Bulletin from the 1950s, as well as a few issues of Joemma Jottings from 1917. It also holds a copy of Smith's posthumously published memoir of his childhood in Endicott, Washington: Joe Smith, Bunch Grass Pioneer (Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1986).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The creator's literary rights have not been transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Personal PapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Biographical Features
General Correspondence
See the Name Index to Correspondence for an alphabetical list of correspondents and the folders in which they appear.
Box/Folder
1/2-22
Correspondence
1892-1909
2/1-23
Correspondence
1909-1918
3/1-19
Correspondence
1918-1942
4/1-3
Correspondence
1943-1957
4/4
Undated and Incomplete Letters
undated
Box/Folder
4/5
Financial Records
undated
4/6
Legal Documents
undated
4/7
Court Papers
undated
box:oversize
23/1
Certificates
1891-1898
Box/Folder
4/8
Certificates
1898-1899
4/9
Resolutions
undated
4/10
Notes
undated
Diaries
Box/Folder
5/1-26
Diaries
46 items
1890-1891
6/1-24
Diaries
46 items
1891-1892
7/1-27
Diaries
61 items
1892-1896
8/1-31
Diaries
90 items
1896
9/1-17
Diaries
47 items
1896-1897
9/18
Diaries
1911, 1946
Notebooks
Box/Folder
9/19-28
Notebooks
17 items
1892-1904
10/1-2
Notebooks
14 items
1906, 1910
10/3
Notebooks
1919
10/4
Notebooks
1919, 1920
10/5
Notebooks
1941
10/6
Notebooks
4 items
undated
10/7-8
Loose-leaf
1898-1906
10/9
Loose-leaf
1901
10/10-11
Loose-leaf
1901-1909
10/12-13
Loose-leaf
1906
10/14-15
Loose-leaf
1907-1909
Box/Folder
10/16
Publications
undated
Speeches and Writings
Box/Folder
11/1
[Untitled Speech]
June 4, 1896
11/2
"Military Essay"
1896
11/3
Fragments
undated
11/4
"The Army Correspondent"
February 4, 1904
11/5
"The Glory of the Daffodil"
1928
11/6
"Reminiscences of a Newspaper Reporter"
June 15, 1936
11/7-23
"Joe's Dope" (Autobiography) Chapter 1-13
undated
11/24-27
"Bunch Grass Pioneer," Version A, Chapters 1-4
undated
12/1-2
"Bunch Grass Pioneer," Version B
undated
12/3
"The Life and Misbehavior of Claude Smith"
1960
12/4
Biographical Odds and Ends
undated
12/5-6
"Pullman, Fifty Years Ago"
undated
12/7
"Seattle, Fifty Years Ago," Version A
November 14, 1949
12/8-9
"Seattle, Fifty Years Ago," Version B
1949
12/10-13
"Joe's Radio Memos"
October 19, 1956-February 1957
12/14
"The Trail of the Serpent: A Little History of the Supreme Court"
undated
12/15
"The Ballad of Yukon Jake"
undated
12/16-17
"Statesmen I Have Met"
undated
12/18
Elberton
undated
12/19
Palouse Country
undated
12/20
Campaigning
undated
12/21-22
Economics
undated
12/23
Toast
1899
12/23
"The War" (Poem)
undated
12/24
Political
1895-1906
13/1-2
Political
1903-1910
13/3
Work for Young Republicans
undated
13/4-7
Political
1911-1912
13/8
37th District Representative/State Legislature
1936
13/9
Political
1937-1939
13/10
Speeches for Gubernatorial Campaign
1940
13/11
Political
1940
13/12
"The Measure of Wendel Wilke"
1940
13/13
City Light Issue
1940-1941
13/14
Mayoralty Campaign Finance Question
1941
13/15-19
Miscellany
undated
22
Duplicates
undated
Box/Folder
13/20
Speeches and Writings of Others
undated
21
Notecards
undated
Subject Series
Box/Folder
14/1-7
Seattle City Light
14/8-9
Electric Power
1936-1942
14/10
Joe Smith Campaign
1910
14/11
Joe Smith Campaign for Representative 37th District State
undated
14/11
Legislature
undated
box:oversize
23/2
Pigott Printing Co.
1917
Box/Folder
14/12-13
Pigott Printing Co.
1917-1921
Ephemera
Box/Folder
16/1-2
Miscellaneous
undated
16/3
Campaign Miscellany
undated
16/4
Puget Sound Power and Light - Annual Reports
1934-1941
box:oversize
23/3
The Seattle Mail and Herald
January 17, 1903
Box/Folder
16/5-10
Political
1904-1908
17/1-16
Political
1910-1942, undated
box:oversize
23/4-5
Political
1904-1917, 1940-1950
Box/Folder
17/17
Reports - Washington.Emergency Relief Administration
1933
Publications
Box/Folder
17/18
The Dilettante
1900
17/19
Direct Trader
1917
17/20
Joemma Jottings
1917
17/21-22
Joemma Bulletin
1923-1926
17/23-24
Joe's Bulb Bulletin
1927-1929
17/23-24
Joe's Seed Bulletin
1940-1941
17/25
Joe's Bulletin
1954
18/1
Seattle Composing Stick
undated
18/2-5
Washington State Publications & Legislation
1933-1943
Box/Folder
19-20
Clippings
1899-1962
21
Campaign Cards
undated

Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
24/1-3
General Correspondence
October 25-December 3, 1898
24/4-7
Diary
undated
24/4-8
Notes-Philippine Insurrection
undated
24/9-10
Notebooks
undated
24/11-13, 25/1-2
Reports
1898-1899
box:oversize
23/6
Transcripts-Charges Against Col. Fife, First Washington Volunteers
1898
Box/Folder
25/4-6
Rosters
undated
25/7-9
Muster Rolls
undated
box:oversize
23/6
Rosters
undated
23/6
Muster Rolls
undated
Box/Folder
25/10
Lists
undated
Speeches and Writings
Box/Folder
25/11
"Old Buck" and "Buck Harlan" (Philippine Insurrection)
undated
25/12
"The Corporal of the Third Squad"
undated
25/13-18, 26/1-9
"The Story of the First Washington Volunteers"
undated
26/10
"Christmas at Manila a Year Ago"
1899
26/11
"The Corporal of the Third Squad"
undated
26/11
"The Battle of February Fifth, A Personal Narrative"
undated
26/12
"Dauntless Washington Troops Fight To the Death ( Post Intelligencer)"
1899
Box/Folder
26/13
Speeches and Writings of Others
undated
26/14-15
Ephemera
undated
Memorabilia
Box/Folder
26/16
Purple Heart
undated
26/16
Banner
undated
26/17
Miscellaneous
undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Agriculture--Palouse River Valley (Idaho and Wash.)
  • Journalists--Washington (State)
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Political activists--Washington (State)
  • Populism--Palouse River Valley (Idaho and Wash.)
  • Progressivism (United States politics)
  • Spanish-American War, 1898--Journalists
  • War correspondents--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Wheat farmers--Palouse River Valley (Idaho and Wash.)
  • Personal Names :
  • Dilling, George W
  • Gill, Hiram
  • Smith, Joe, 1872-1962--Archives
  • Corporate Names :
  • Populist Party (Wash.)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Palouse (Wash.)--Politics and government
  • Philippines--History--Revolution, 1896-1898--Journalists
  • Seattle (Wash.)--Politics and government
  • Washington (State)--Politics and government
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs
  • Titles within the Collection :
  • Joe's seed bulletin