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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Laura Gibson Smith papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1917-1983
Creator: Smith, Laura Gibson (1891-1973)
Extent: 10.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0069
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Casey, Iowa native who taught country school before marrying and homesteading in Wyoming in 1913. She taught school in the Philippines in the 1910s and 1920s.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 123) were donated by Cathy Wheatcraft in 1992.

Preferred Citation: Laura Gibson Smith papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason
Email: lib-women@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa

Laura Gibson was born in the 1891 in Casey, Iowa. She attended high school in Ames, graduating in 1909. After graduation, Laura Gibson taught at the country school. At the age of twenty she married Earle Sloan Smith, a reporter for the Ames Times, and attended Capital City Commercial College in Des Moines. During the second year of their marriage, both Earle and Laura Gibson Smith taught school in a small town in southern Iowa to help finance their educations.

Upon graduating from college in 1913, the couple homesteaded in Chugwater, Wyoming, filing a claim on 320 acres of land. In order to secure a patent, the couple had to maintain a residence on the acres. They lived there seven months of the year for three years, moving periodically back to Iowa to teach school in Fort Madison. Laura Gibson Smith gave birth to their son Bertel in 1915. The couple returned to Fort Madison, Iowa, in 1916, where Laura taught and Earle was principal of Jefferson High School.

Offered a teaching position in the Philippines, Earle Smith moved his family to Manila in 1917, where they remained for three years before coming back to the United States. In 1923 Earle Smith accepted another teaching position and the Smiths returned to Manila for another two years.

After taking a cruise around the world and visiting such places as Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Sumatra, Colombo, Port Sudan, Cairo, Genoa, and London, the couple moved back to Iowa. Earle Smith became Story County attorney and later joined the tax commission.

In 1936 Earle Smith developed a severe case of appendicitis and nearly died. The Smiths moved back to Wyoming, fixed up the old homestead and spent the summer there, later returning to Iowa.

Laura Gibson Smith died around 1973 in Des Moines.

The Laura Gibson Smith papers date from ca.1917 to 1983 and measure 10 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Journals, Writings, Earle Sloan Smith, and Photographs. Most of the collection is writings in the form of journals and stories, both fiction and non-fiction, reflecting Laura Gibson Smith's travels abroad. There is very little biographical information.

The Journals series is comprised of six journals written by Laura Gibson Smith dating from 1917-1918 and 1923-1925. The journals contain information regarding her travels abroad, as well as the years he spent living in the Philippines. She writes at length about the social, economic, political, and educational systems in the Philippines. Some of the journals were written during her world cruise aboard the ship "Trier."The last journal was written while she was living in Iowa in 1971.

Writings consists of six sub-series: Essays, Manuscripts, Notebooks, Notes, Short Stories, and Miscellaneous. Essays includes descriptions of a world cruise taken in 1925 and the cities visited, superstitions of the Filipino people, and a trip to Japan. A typed manuscript "Almost Pioneers" documents Laura Gibson Smiths experiences homesteading in Chugwater, Wyoming, from 1913 to 1916. Included is a description of her attempts at forming a women's club and a church, and participating in the election of 1916 in which women were allowed to vote for the first time. Also included are photographs of the Smith family and their home on the prairie. The manuscript was privately published in 1983.

Notebooks and Notes were written during Laura Gibson Smith's residence in the Philippines. Included are descriptions of the people and customs, and the daily life experiences she observed whileliving there. Short stories were probably written during Laura Gibson Smith's residence in the Philippines. Essays include a variety of short pieces, possibly used for teaching. The final sub-series, Miscellaneous, contains examples of Filipino students' writing in a first year English class.

The Earle Sloan Smith series consists of a few pieces of his writings and a short story, "Ten", probably written in the early 1920s. Also included is a newspaper article announcing his nomination for the office of Story County Attorney in 1926, apolitical flyer, and the semi-official returns for the Story County General Election.

Photographs of the Philippine Islands, Egypt, and Sumatra, taken in the late 1910s, and other miscellaneous photographs make up the final series.


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Browse by Series:
Series 1: JOURNALS
Series 2: WRITINGS
Series 3: EARLE SLOANE SMITH
Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS

  • Series 1: JOURNALS
  • Box 1:
  • April 16-January 3 - 1917-1918
  • September-November - 1923
  • September 14 [single entry] - 1924
  • January 6-July 4 - 1925
  • April 10 May 24 [includes map of Asia with cruise route noted] - 1925
  • January-December - 1971
  • Journals Undated
  • Series 2: WRITINGS
  • Box 2:
  • Essays
  • "Across the Pacific"
  • Description of cities visited on world cruise - 1925
  • "Dito"
  • "Over the Hills of Japan"
  • "Shopping in the P.I."
  • "Snapshot of Japan"
  • "A Storm at Sea"
  • "Superstitions"
  • "Walter A. Smith Makes a Fortune in Lumber in the Philippines"
  • Notebooks: essays
  • Notebooks: "Five Years in the Philippines"
  • "Notes on the Philippines"
  • Short Stories
  • "Anting-Anting" [3 versions]
  • "A Clever Carabao"
  • "Home Again"
  • "The Fish Which Go Out For a Bath!"
  • "Fish Which Walk and Sing"
  • "Listening In"
  • "My Kingdom For a Bath"
  • "Two Silver Pesoes"
  • Manuscript: "Almost Pioneers": Chapters 1-5 - 1983
  • Manuscript: "Almost Pioneers": Chapters 6-12 - 1983
  • Manuscript: "Almost Pioneers": Chapters 7-17 - 1983
  • "Almost Pioneers": Photographs
  • Miscellaneous
  • Series 3: EARLE SLOANE SMITH
  • Box 2:
  • Poems - 1917
  • Short Story: "Ten"
  • Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 2:
  • Philippine Islands, Egypt, Sumatra - 1900-1925