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Howard W. Smith Papers

Identifier: MSS 8731

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the files and working papers of Howard Worth Smith who represented Virginia in Congress for some thirty-five years as representative from the Eighth Congressional District. Included are correspondence received and carbon copies of replies, clippings, printed government and other publications, copies of printed bills, reports, press releases, speeches, notes, memoranda, financial records, tape and disc recordings, drawings, and other materials. The papers cover the years 1933 to 1966 when Smith retired from Congress.

The collection is now contained in 274 Hollinger storage boxes (ca. 5"x15"x10"), one oversize box; additionally, there are eighteen looseleaf and scrapbooks, and forty-four architectural drawings. The collection fills approximately 150 shelf feet.

Smith's influence in Congress came chiefly from his early appointment to the Rules Committee. In 1955, he became its chairman, an exceedingly powerful position as the committee can determine the "length and manner of debate" on any measure moving from a committee to the floor of the House. "Although it was initially designed as a traffic committee to ease and expedite the flow of legislation in the House, the Rules Committee by postponing or refusing to grant a bill a rule bottled up measures which did not win the approval of its conservative majority." (J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, H arry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics, 1945-1966 [Charlottesville, 1968], 71.

Other research interests which may be studied in the collection, according to Mr. Robert Metzdorf, are: "political history of Virginia, relations of the Virginia and Southern Democrats to the rest of the Democratic Party, labor unions and labor laws, lobbying, investigation of Un-Americian activities, alien registration, the Smith Act and subversion, history of the District of Columbia 1930-1966 [and legislation in Congress pertaining to it as Smith sat on the District Committee], conservation and water pollution, Selective Service and other war-time legislation, the Supreme Court and State's rights, memorials to Jefferson and Madison, the history of workmen's compensation, reappointment and the federal courts, civil rights, the Rules Committee and its role in the legislative process, the history of foreign aid, federal aid to education, the history of immigration, relation between the legislative and executive branches, the history of conservatism in the United States, 1930-1966." To these notes may be added the study of unique northern Virginia politics, patronage, and the continuing work of a Congressman in relation to his colleagues and in particular to his constituents. There does not appear to be much material in the collection which shows Smith's relation to Senator Harry Byrd in the political sense, although there is interesting correspondence. Naturally, the collection will be the basis for any biography of Judge Smith, an important historical task which, hopefully, will be undertaken soon.;query=;#bioghist_1.1


  • Creation: 1933 - 1966

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Biographical / Historical

Howard Worth Smith was born in Broad Run, Fauquier County, Virginia, on 2 February 1883. He attended the public schools there and was graduated from Bethel Military Academy, Warrenton, Va., in 1901. In 1903, he received his law degree from the University of Virginia, and entered the practice of law in Alexandria where he remained for the next eighteen years. He served as Commonwealth's attorney (1918-1922), judge of the corporation court (1922-1928), and judge of the 16th circuit court (1928-1930).

In 1931, he was elected to Congress from the Eighth Congressional District, and remained in office for thirty-five years. He served as chairman, Committee on Rules (Eighty-fourth through Eighty-ninth Congresses) and sponsor of the Smith Act of 1940. Smith was defeated for renomination in the Democratic primary in 1966.

Judge Smith resumed the practice of law in Alexandria, Va., where he died October 3, 1976. He was buried in Georgetown Cemetery, Broad Run, Va.;query=;#bioghist_1.1


187 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Series I: Bills Introduced in Congress by Judge Smith Boxes 1-12 In general, this series comprises a chronological arrangement by Congress, and an alphabetical series of topics within each Congress. The folders usually contain a copy of the printed bill plus pertinent correspondence, notes, and other helpful material.

Series II: Miscellaneous Legislation Boxes 13-111 This series comprises a chronological series by Congress with an alphabetical arrangement of topics within each Congress. There is generally one folder for each topic, but occasionally there are more. The folders contain correspondence, notes, printed materials, copies of the printed bill, and anything Judge Smith or his staff found pertinent. When material identified as belonging to an earlier Congress appears under a later one, it has been left where it was found on the presumption that the legislation may have carried over or that it was placed there for good reason. Note especially the sub-series on Civil rights in boxes 100-111.

Series III: Miscellaneous Correspondence Boxes 112-187 Boxes 112-187 Again, the arrangement in this series is by Congress, and within the Congress, the arrangement is alphabetical. The series begins with the 84th Congress. The topics range from the Democratic National Committee to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Series IV: Private Bills Boxes 188, 189 Bills introduced by Smith "for the relief of" constituents or other private individuals.

Series V: Speeches, Articles, Recordings, Etc. Boxes 190-193; [oversize box] This series contains offprints of articles by and about Smith, copies of the Congressional Record containing Smith's speeches in "Congress, and other publications containing interviews with, or articles by Smith. Drafts and texts of speeches by Smith are found. The materials are arranged by Congress. There are a number of tape and disc recordings of speeches by Smith, or interviews of him.

Series VI: Campaign Record Boxes 194-210 In this series are found campaign literature, clippings, returns, correspondence with workers and supporters, lists of votes, expense accounts, research files on hi sopponents and their remarks, and folders on areas in Smith's district. Also present are folders on other Virginia elections, and some materials on national elections. The file is organized chronologically by the campaign beginnings with 1938, but materials are sparce until 1950.

Series VII: Endorsement and Patronage Correspondence Boxes 211-213 This correspondence is filed chronologically by the Congress, and alphabetically within the Congress, and covers the 83rd to 89th Congresses.

Series VIII: Correspondence re Petitions; Qualified Voters Boxes 214-217 Arranged by area within his district. Last two boxes contain mailing lists of qualified voters.

Series IX: National Labor Relations Board Files Boxes 219-229 An alphabetical file of materials generated by the Special Committee of the House headed by Smith which investigated the NLRB, 1939-1942. Three scrapbooks, listed at the end of the listings of boxes in this inventory, contain pertinent newspaper clippings and cartoons. For Smith's continuing interest in labor legislation, one should consult Series 1 and 2.

Series X: Strasbourg Conference Records Boxes 230, 231 Smith attended the conference held in Strasbourg in 1951 to discuss problems common to Europe and North America as a member of the U.S. delegation. most of the records in this series are printed reports and debates, but there are a few clippings and letters.

Series XI: Virginia Post Office Correspondence Boxes 232-254 This series contains an alphabetical arrangement by the name of the post office of correspondence concerning postmasterships, location of new post offices and the like. Much patronage material appears here.

Series XII: Service Academies Correspondence Boxes 255-264 A chronological series with folders for each academy for each year beginning with 1945, re appointments.

Series XIII: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission Records Boxes 265-270 This series contains, in no particular order, records of the work of the Commission appointed to determine a suitable memorial to Thomas Jefferson in Washington, D.C. There are minutes of the meetings of the commission, blue prints, correspondence, printed materials, etc. One should also note the existance of the architectural drawings submitted in competition for the design award. These are listed separately at the end of the listings of the contents of the boxes of the main collection.

Series XIV: Miscellaneous Files Boxes 271-274 Miscellaneous files, and clippings and articles about Smith.

Series XV: Scrapbooks This is a series of books, 1938-1966, filled with clippings about Smith and his career, organized chronologically, with some miscellaenous books at the end.

Series XVI: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Architectural Competition Drawings

Other Finding Aids;query=;#bioghist_1.1

Custodial History

When Judge Smith was ready to leave his congressional offices, he called upon the National Archives and Records Service to clean out his files, and pack the materials; this is a service offered to Congressmen by NARS. NARS boxed up all the materials, and moved them across the Potomac to the Federal Records Center in Alexandria early in 1967.

Shortly thereafter, Judge Smith agreed to open his papers to the researchers of the Institute for Social Science Research, and the papers were moved a few blocks from the Federal Records Center to the third floor of Judge Smith's son's law office building where space was made available to the Institute.

The Institute staff worked through the material and removed from the boxes those papers which interested them particularly. These papers they placed in eight filing cabinets in the offices, and a card index file was prepared to assist in locating the materials. The remainder of the papers were kept in the NARS boxes and were stacked about the walls of the rooms. The collection was appraised at this time, and Mr. Robert Metzdorf's notes on the contents give a good summary of its research value.

It took the Institute fifteen or sixteen months to complete its work in the files. They made notes, and copied all materials which they found pertinent their research. By agreement with Judge Smith, the Institute has the right of prior publication of any material from the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to the University of Virginia Library on October 18, 1967 by Judge Smith.

Processing Information

The papers have, in general, been kept in the order in which they were received from the Institute for Social Science Research. Because of the removal of a portion of the collection from the NARS boxes, it was not always possible for the Library staff to determine exactly what the original order of the collection had been. We have moved certain blocks of materials that seemed to belong together to create series within the collection, but very little moving of individual file folders has taken place. Thus, the researcher will find that there are minor inconsistencies in the chronological or alphabetical order in certain portions of the series.

This finding aid was created for the purpose of access to Series XVI, and exists in addition to the the guide found at:;query=;.

Howard W. Smith Papers finding aid
Originally processed by: Special Collections Staff This finding aid: Joseph Azizi
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States