The Smith collection Edit


MSS 212 large


  • 1962 – 2012 (Creation)


  • 2 Linear Feet (Whole)
    1 boxes
  • 75 Linear Feet (Whole)
    75 boxes



  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The material is stored offsite. Please request materials 3 days ahead of your visit.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

  • Preferred Citation

    Item, Folder number and/or title, Box number, The Smith Collection, MSS 212, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Acquired in installments from Harry Smith: 1978 (?), 1992 (?) 2011.

  • Processing Information

    Processed by Michael Rodriquez, updated summer 2011 by Ray Barker, and completed by Leslie M. Behm with much assistance from Marshall Brooks, former employee of The Smith and bibliographer of the press, and Katie Angeli, Special Collections student in April 2012.

  • Biographical / Historical

    Harry Smith began The Smith in 1964 as an ambitious and irreverent literary magazine based in New York City. Soon, Smith became recognized as a “mover and shaker” in the burgeoning small press scene of the 1960s and 1970s.

    The Smith went on to establish itself as a pioneering small press book publisher, issuing over 70 titles in a period spanning five decades. Harry Smith’s magazine and press featured among others: James T. Farrell—author of the American classic Studs Lonigan, a writer whose literary reputation it did much to reinvigorate—Menke Katz, Stanley Nelson, H.L. Van Brunt, Sidney Bernard, Stephen Dwoskin, Gene Fowler,Dick Higgins, Jana Harris, Terry Kennedy, Richard Kostelanetz, Seymour Krim, Richard Nason, Alicia Ostriker, Donald Phelps, Ed Sanders, Karen Swenson, Leslie Whitten, Richard (Ward) Morris, and numerous others from everywhere across the literary spectrum, even including such mainstream figures as Erica Jong. Harry Smith was a founding editor along with Anaïs Nin, Buckminster Fuller, Hugh Fox, Ishmael Reed, Joyce Carol Oates, Len Fulton, et al. of the annual Pushcart Pushcart Prize for small press writing. The logo of the press was the silhouette of an anvil, considered to be the “symbol of all creation.” The press’s defiant motto was: “Anything goes as long as it’s good.”

    Harry Smith’s Newsletter (On the State of the Culture) provided an in-depth, and not always friendly, look into the New York literary world—especially that of its book publishing industry. Smith hailed as “a new and remarkable phenomenon. He’s a literary muckraker” by such places as the Toronto Daily Star, the Newsletter’s reporting also documented America’s alternative media (e.g., small presses and little magazines) in close and lively detail.

    Harry Smith was born in October 15,1936 in Queens, New York, New York and died November 23, 2012 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine after a long illness, and was the son of a banker. He married Marion Camilla Petschek (a psychologist) in 1959; they had three children. Marion died in 1995.

    Smith was educated at Brown University receiving an A.B. in 1957. Between then and starting the press, he did graduate work and worked as a reporter, photographer, and editor for two central Massachusetts newspapers, the Southbridge Evening News and the Worcester Telegram. He later worked for a trade publication and edited a legal newspaper in New York City.

    Harry Smith was a prolific poet who has published a number of books and whose poetry has appeared in: Bitterroot, Discourse, Dust, East Village Other, For Now, Ghost Dance, The Literary Review, Kansas Quarterly, Nostoc, Penumbra, Poet Lore, Small Press Review, Trace, University Review, UT Review, Wormwood Review, and The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual. In addition, his work has appeared widely under a number of pseudonyms.

    Smith received the 1976 Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from PEN for “his poetry, his commitment to human values, and his achievements as an editor.”

    Harry Smith resided in Maine with his second wife, Clare Melley Smith, a playwright. He died in Portland, Maine on November 23, 2012 of complications from treatment for lung cancer.

  • Scope and Contents

    The Smith Collection brings together all of the publications published under the editorial purview of Harry Smith, including books by a single author and serials. Materials relating to the influential small press advocate organization and the nation’s first small press trade association, COSMEP (Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers), of which Harry Smith was a founder and served twice as Chair, are also to be found here. In addition to publishing hundreds of poets and writers for the first time and advocating non-conformist views both within and without the literary community, The Smith publications helped give rise to a number of future literary figures of significance. Papers in this collection contain correspondence related to, and manuscripts submitted for, issues of The Smith (a literary magazine devoted to poetry and fiction), The Scene (Off-Off Broadway plays), The New York Smith and Newsart (freewheeling literary arts newspapers), Pulpsmith (a pulp poetry and fiction quarterly), The Newsletter (One the State of the Culture) (which featured muckraking reportage), as well as to the book publishing arm of The Smith. (Notably, few literary small presses have published in such a wide variety of formats.) COSMEP materials relate to the founding of the organization in the late 1960s, and run through its merger with Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) in the mid-1990s. Papers of H. Lloyd Van Brunt, poet and a managing editor of The Smith—the press published at least four of Van Brunt’s books—are also included.

  • Arrangement

    The archive is arranged into seven series: Series I contains professional and personal correspondence. Series II contains financial and administration records... Series III includes material pertaining to all Smith publications: The Smith, Smith Special Issues, Pulpsmith, Scene, Newsletter, Newsart and individual poetry and fiction published under the Smith name. Series IV consists of all manuscripts received by The Smith. Series V contains the Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers (COSMEP). Series VI includes Van Brunt Series VII includes Realia, Computer Media, Audiocassettes, Videocassettes, Miscellaneous Items

  • General

    Conservation 2012 Wallace Conservation Lab, MSU Libraries.

  • Related Materials

    The Brown University Library also has a collection of Harry Smith's material. The finding aid for the collection is available electronically.