The Papers of Dent Smith 1897-1985
Creator: Dent Smith, 1897-1985
Extent: 2 file drawers, 6 cubic feet, approximately 4,600 letters, 60 reports and manuscripts, 14 photographs.
Repository: The Bertram Zuckerman Garden Archives, Fairchild Tropical Garden Research Center, Fairchild Tropical Garden, 11935 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33156-4296.
Abstract: The papers of Dent Smith include copies of the correspondence between Dent Smith and over 200 internationally prominent palm botanists and horticulturists. Almost all the materials deal with the establishment and operation of the Palm Society. Dent Smith started the Palm Society in 1956. He conceived, developed, and supported the society throughout its first 30 years. The collection includes letters, manuscripts of Dent Smith’s writings, Palm Society minutes, planning documents, and financial records. While the dates include 1955-1986, most of the records are from 1955 through the mid-1960s.
Administrative Information: Arranged, for the most part, in folders by correspondent (either individual or organization), then by date, with copies of Dent Smith’s letters interfiled.
Acquisition information: The papers were donated to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden by Dent Smith.
Access: The Collection is open for research. Please consult the curator for access: Nancy Korber, 305-667-1651 x3424 or email@example.com
Usage Restrictions: Most of the photographs have previously been published and are covered by copyright restrictions of the Palm Society.
Preferred Citation: Courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Archive. Dent Smith Collection.
Biography: Dent Smith was born in Staunton, Virginia in 1897. During his early years he moved frequently, and according to his own recollections, received a brief and what Smith called a “thoroughly useless formal education.” At 16 he left college in his junior year to take a number of jobs until he enlisted in the army at age 18. He served several years, mostly on the Mexican border, before he was discharged in 1919. He took various jobs and eventually made his way to Mexico where he worked as an oilfield scout and married his first wife, Guadalupe Hopper y Martinez in 1921. After several more jobs, he moved to southern California.
Up to this point, Dent Smith had led a rather itinerant life, seeking little formal education, job stability, or financial reward. But in 1925 he made another move that seems to have signaled a change in his life. He worked for five years as a bond salesman on Wall Street in New York City. Eventually, he started his own investment securities firm (Dent Smith and Company). In spite of the failing economy, he realized considerable success, and was able to retire at the age of 42. For a brief period, he founded and ran the magazine Encore (1942-1945). In 1949 he moved to Daytona Beach, Florida where he began his involvement with palms, and founded the International Palm Society.
For the first several years Dent Smith was the primary figure in the society’s development, serving as president, editor of Principes , and in other capacities. Even to his death in 1985, he served as an active member of the society and was consulted for advise on its operations.
Dent Smith received numerous honors for his involvement and support of palm culture, including an honorary Doctorate of Science from Florida Institute of Technology and the Founders Medal from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. His published writings are extensive, including total authorship of the six issues of the Palm Society Bulletin, and more than 70 articles, most published in Principes.
Dent Smith died in 1985 after a long battle with cancer. He was preceeded in death by his first wife and their two children: Garrard Leonard Dent Smith, who was killed in action in the Korean War in 1950 and a daugher, Jesse Dent Smith Clark who died of multiple myeloma. He was succeeded by his second wife, Doris.
Processing: Collection and finding aid developed by Nancy Korber, 2008. Biographical details supplied by Mary Jane Ray, daughter-in-law (September 2009).
Collection Scope and Content Note: The collection of Dent Smith includes correspondence between Smith and dozens of internationally prominent palm biologists. Although dates encompass 1955-1986, most of the correspondence dates between 1956 and 1975. In addition to over 4,600 letters, the collection includes about 60 reports and manuscripts, and 14 photographs. Almost all the materials concern the business of the Palm Society and palm culture in general. The collection includes extensive correspondence between Dent Smith and David Barry, Jr., Mardy E. Darian, Kenneth C. Foster, Walter Henricks Hodge, Jerome P. Keuper, Margaret and Arthur Langlois, William D. Manley, Otto Martens, Harold E. Moore, Jr., Nixon Smiley, and Lucita Wait.
|Drawer||Folder||Contents / Dates|
|V-2||1||Correspondence with Paul Hamilton Allen 1911-1963, from Honduras. 11 letters, Dated: 1955-1956|
|2||American Horticultural Society, primarily from James R. Harlow, Executive Secretary. 18 letters, dated: 1956-1960|
|3||Miscellaneous A correspondents, including Mrs. George F. Adams, Senor Harmano Alain, Alexander, All Florida, Donald Alvord, Edgar Anderson, Norman L. Anderson, William Aplin, John D. Archbold, Margaret G. Ashe. 22 letters, dated: 1955-1965|
|4||F. Cecil Baker, Santa Lucea Grove, Stuart, FL. 14 letters, dated: 1956-1960|
|5||David Barry, Jr., 1897-1978. 224 letters, dated: 1955-1964|
|6||David Barry, Jr., 1897-1978. 182 letters, dated: 1965-1969|
|7||David Barry, Jr., 1897-1978. 141 letters, dated: 1970-1973|
|8||David Barry, Jr., 1897-1978. 92 letters, dated: 1974-1977|
|9||David Besst, David’s Nurseries, Maitland, FL. 12 letters, dated: 1981-1982|
|10||Mrs. Theodora B. Buhler (Teddie C. Buhler). 65 letters, dated: 1956-1980|
|11||Miscellaneous B correspondence, including Gene Barnes, Ethel Z. Bailey, Bruce Bartholomew, H. H. Bartlett, David M. Bates, H. E. auernschmidt, Mrs. T. R. Baumgartner, Mrs. Richard H. (Jacqueline) Baxter, Elwood Bear, Jeanne Bellamy, Mrs. Byron E. (Libby) Besse, W. L. Bidlingmayer, Robert L. Bishop, Walter Braun, Ben L. Brown, Kyle E. Brown, Sam J. Brown, Thomas R. Bullers, Brent Burris, Charles S. Bush, Eileen H. Butts. 80 letters, dated: 1955-1983|
|12||I. D. Clement, 28 letters, dated: 1955-1961|
|13||Cook, John R. “Jack” 14 letters, dated: 1971|
|14||Miscellaneous C correspondence, including Meredith F. Campbell, Peter Caulkin, Betty Chalk, Chicago Natural History Museum, Lloyd Cochrane, Gertrude W. Cole, Charles C. Cole, Alan D. Conger, J. Francis Cooper, Carl F. Cowgill, Malcolm N. Crabtree, Mrs. Francis V. Crane, Florida Cypress Gardens. 35 letters, dated: 1956-1977|
|15||Mardy E. Darian, 200 letters, dated 1964-1983|
|16||Nat J. DeLeon, Parrot Jungle, 54 letters, dated 1956-1972|
|17||Warren J. Dolby, Richmond, CA, 36 letters, dated 1956-1976|
|18||Paul A. Drummond, 6 letters, dated 1974-1982|
|19||Miscellaneous D correspondence, including B. E. Dahlgren, Richard M. Dash, T. Antony Davis, H. A. Delap, Richard Douglas, Armando Dugand, William F. Dunbar, William M. Dunson. 31 letters, dated: 1956-1983|
|20||Miscellaneous E correspondence, including Sulema Jones Etchison, A. Morgan Evans. 11 letters, dated: 1955-1974|
|21||Florida Institute of Technology: copy of Principes featuring “A Major Florida Palm Collection” by Nixon Smiley, 1975; letter listing all palms dated June 20, 1977|
|22||Kenneth C. Foster, 103 letters, dated: 1956-1978|
|23||Miscellaneous F correspondence, including R. H. Fackelman, Marian Bell Fairchild, R. G. Follis, Carl O. Foster, Jr., Mulford B. Foster, Racine Foster, Mrs. Walter P. (Roberta C.) Fuller, C. X. Furtado. 29 letters, dated: 1956-1980|
|24||Miscellaneous G correspondence, including: Donald Galli, E. Getchell, Eric V. Golby, Michael and Susan Graham, Celia Grant, Jane Gray, Ruth Greene, Burt Greenberg, James F. Griffin, Jr. G. L. Guy. 45 letters, dated: 1956-1981|
|25||Walter Henricks Hodge 1912- . 227 letters, dated: 1956-1984|
|26||Miscellaneous H correspondence, including Claire Hargert, Walter J. Harman, Clyde Harris, Reba F. Harris, C. W. S. Hartley, Alex D. Hawkes, Randall Henderson, Gunter F. Herman, Betty Herman, Efraim Hernandez X., William Hertrich, Arthur M. Hill, Jr., Gordon D. Hintz, Roy Hirth, Harold F. Hollis, Richard A. Howard, DeArmond Hull, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. 70 letters, dated 1956-1982|
|27||Internal Revenue Service: 10 letters, dated: 1956-1957|
|28||Miscellaneous I correspondence, including C. E. Ingalls, Internal Revenue Service. 5 letters, dated: 1955-1956|
|29||Edwin Johnston. 18 letters, dated: 1955-1956|
|30||Miscellaneous J correspondence, including Nell Montgomery Jennings, Father Ferome, Franklin Pitcher Johnson, Adolph C. Jordahn, 27 letters, dated: 1956-1985|
|31||Jerome P. Keuper. 122 letters, dated 1967-1984|
|32||Stanley C. Kiem, Fairchild Tropical Garden. 72 letters, dated: 1955-1981|
|33||Eugene D. Kitzke, S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 26 letters, dated: 1956-1962|
|34||Miscellaneous K correspondence, including M. P. Keister, Ward Kendall, Nolan W. Kiner, Girard E. Kinzie, Douglas M. Knapp, Isabelle B. Krome, Russell B. Kurtz. 26 letters, dated: 1956-1983|
|35||Margaret and Arthur Langlois. 82 letters, dated: 1955-1983|
|36||George H. M. Lawrence, Director, Bailey Hortorium. 36 letters, dated: 1955-1963|
|37||R. Bruce Ledin, University of Florida. 41 letters, dated: 1956-1958|
|38||Miscellaneous L correspondence, including C. H. Lankester, Alexis V. Lapteff, Wilbur LeGardeur, Walter R. Lindsay, H. R. Loomis, Elmer J. Lorenz, T. R. N. Lothian, Jerome F. Lowenstein, Joel F. Lubar, Irwine Lyle. 47 letters, dated: 1955-1984|
|39||William D. Manley, Atlanta, GA: 119 letters, dated: 1961-1969|
|40||William D. Manley, Atlanta, GA: 84 letters, dated: 1970-1981|
Manuscripts, many with no dates or titles. 25 manuscripts, including:
|42||Otto Martens, Monrovia, CA: 104 letters, dated: 1964-1974|
|43||Edwin W. Moore, San Diego, CA: 49 letters, dated: 1956-1965|
|44||Harold E. Moore, Jr., Cornell University: 123 letters, dated: 1955-1959|
|45||Harold E. Moore, Jr., Cornell University: 110 letters, dated: 1960-1964|
|46||Harold E. Moore, Jr., Cornell University: 117 letters, dated: 1968-1973|
|47||Harold E. Moore, Jr., Cornell University: 105 letters, dated: 1974-1980|
|48||Robert Nelson: 77 letters, dated: 1960-1964|
|49||Miscellaneous M correspondence, including J. Marnier-Lapostolle, H. O. Martin, Stewart Mathews, Frank R. May, Mrs. C. R. (Fay M.) Mayes, ,Jim Menge, Edwin A. Menninger, Joe W. Michael, Les H. Miller, Mrs. Albert J. (Peggy) Mills, Jim Mintken, David R. Moomaw, William M. Morton, Russell C. Mott, Walter J. Murray, Tamar Myers. 42 letters, dated: 1956-1984|
|50||Billings M. McArthur: 18 letters, dated: 1963-1976|
|51||James C. McCurrach, 56 letters, dated: 1957-1961|
|52||Miscellaneous Mc correspondence, including Lynn McKamey, E. J. McCallum. 4 letters, dated: 1956-1983|
|53||Bob Nelson: 77 letters, dated: 1960-1964|
|54||Miscellaneous N correspondence, including William Nachtrab, Raymond Neck, Don Nichols, H. L. Buster Nies. 15 letters, dated: 1956-1972|
|55||Palm Society Bulletin: 6 issues, dated: 1956. Originals are in bound volume in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Library.|
|56||Palm Society: 72 letters and reports related to the work of the palm society, dated: 1955-1982|
|57||Palm Society Bylaws: 17 versions, with notes and amendments, dated: 1955-1976|
|58||Palm Society Rosters: 5 rosters, dated: 1955 & 1956|
|59||Palmologue (column in Principes written by Dent Smith): file contains letters, drafts and manuscripts of column. 9 letters, 12 manuscripts|
|60||Palmologue – Photos: 14 pictures published in Principes, v.19, 1975.|
|61||Miscellaneous P correspondence, including H. A. Paden, Francis H. Greer, Heriberto Parra E., Mrs. H. J. Peacock, Jr., Roy J. Pence, Gayland M. Penny, Rodolfo E. G. Pichi-Sermolli, Frank Piers, Mrs. E. G. (Ann) Piper, Robert E. Pomeranz, Patricio Ponce de Leon, John Popenoe, O. J. Priebe, George R. Proctor. 66 letters, dated: 1955-1985.|
|62||F. C. Quintana: 5 letters, dated: 1956|
|63||Miscellaneous R correspondence, including Frank J. Radosta, R. S. Rao, Mike Rayburn, Robert W. Read, William Rheinfelder, William J. Robbins, F. W. Roewekamp, J. D. Rowell, Walter Ford Rogers, Jr., Rood Landscape Co., F. J. Routon, Hartley Rowe, Velva E. Rudd, Jerzy Rzedowski,: 43 letters, dated: 1956-1983|
|64||Toshihiko Satake, Hiroshimaken, Japan: 18 letters, dated: 1956-1966|
|65||Robert Schnabel, 38 letters, dated: 1959-1969|
|66||Nixon Smiley: chapter of unpublished Dent Smith autobiography entitled “Gringo,” 182 letters, dated: 1956-1985|
|67||Dent Smith: 2 manuscripts of articles, bonds from State of Arkansas|
|68||Jim Smith, Smith’s Nursery, Oakland Park, FL: 58 letters, dated: 1956-1975|
|69||R. N. Smith: 35 letters, dated: 1965-1971|
|70||Melvin W. Sneed: 19 letters, dated: 1972-1980|
|71||Watana Sumawong, Bankok, Thailand: 17 letters, dated: 1971-1974|
|72||Miscellaneous S correspondence, including: Stuart Sarjeant, Ruth Schatz, Sharon Scheer, Bill Seaborn, R. J. Seibert, Michael Shapiro, T. J. Sheehan, Marion R. Sheehan, Shenandoah Publishing House, Alan H. Shoemaker, Vincent Sims, Arch Smith, Robert N. Smith, Jr., Betty Smith, Gordon S. Smith, Phoebe Snow, Jim Specht, Betty Stevenson, William S. Stewart, Wesley W. Stout, V. T. Stoutemyer, Pauleen Sullivan, 87 letters, dated: 1956-1985|
|73||P. B. (Philip Barry) Tomlinson, 1932- : 31 letters, dated: 1956-1966|
|74||Miscellaneous T correspondence, including: James A. Talley, Hank Taylor, F. A. Tetley, Jr. H. Teuscher, Loren C. Thompson, Jack Tomsky, Tropical Homemaker, John Turner, Mrs. Leslie Turner: 21 letters, dated: 1956-1982|
|75||Lucita Wait, 1903-1995: 226 letters, dated 1953-1959|
|76||Lucita Wait, 1903-1995: 155 letters, dated 1960-1962|
|77||Lucita Wait, 1903-1995: 231 letters, dated: 1963-1983|
|78||Miscellaneous W correspondence, including: William “Ted” Waas, Egbert H. Walker, Mrs. Cecil S. Waugh, Paul R. Weissich, Erdman West, Bert Wheeler, Beverly Wheelock, Lawrence F. White, Hein Wicht, Henry Wick, Merrill Wilcox, Albert A. Will, Jr., Ken Willeford, Allen Williams, Robert G. Wilson, Karl W. Braun, Harold F. Winters, Harold Wright. 43 letters, dated: 1955-1983|
|79||Miscellaneous XYZ correspondence, including Kan Yashiroda, Harrison G. Yocum, U. A. Young, Ing. Mario Zamora C. 39 letters, dated: 1956-1976|
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs on this page property of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Please contact the Archivist for permission to use or reproduce photographs.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
tel. 305/667-1651, ext. 3424