Special Collections and Archives

Roy Harmon Smith and Family papers

Roy Harmon Smith and Family, Papers, 1920-1988

Finding Aid

Prepared by Rhonda Rinehart, September 9, 2003
1 record storage box, and one LP box, 1.3 cubic feet, 11th floor

Biographical Note

Born in Staunton, Virginia in 1879, Roy Harmon Smith developed an early interest in machines and mechanical engineering. At age 16 he became the youngest graduate from the Miller Manual Labor School near Staunton, launching what became a long and successful career in machine operations and development. Smith held over twenty patents for improvements and design for machinery used in the making of nuts and bolts, and in 1949 he received the highest award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. However, it was Smith's move to Kent, Ohio in 1914 as general manager of the Falls Rivet Company that led to his long-standing business affiliations and civic ties within the community. When the Falls Rivet Company merged with Lamson & Sessions Company in 1921, he held various titles within the company including vice president, director, president, and later honorary board member, also serving on the board of the American Tool and Machine Company. The community-minded Smith served on Kent City Council, eventually becoming a candidate and winning the election for Kent city mayor in 1930. Smith was also instrumental in establishing the recreational park in Kent, and the park's shelterhouse now bears his name. Kent State University also recognized Smith's important contributions to the community, university, and to the world of business and industry by awarding him with an honorary doctoral degree in engineering in 1954. After Smith's death in 1963, the University dedicated the newly-constructed physics building to him on April 19, 1969, naming it Smith Hall.

Scope and Content

This collection contains items given to the Special Collections and Archives department by Roy H. Smith's granddaughter, Martha Bemis Rogers. The collection includes copies of U.S. Patent Office papers for Smith's more than twenty mechanical engineering patents as well as letters written by Smith to his daughter, Laura Jessie Smith while serving as a technical consultant in Europe with the U.S. Foreign Economic Administration in 1945. In addition, glass slides and an accompanying 1955 sound recording detailing Smith's life and career are prominent items in this collection. The remainder of the collection consists largely of Smith, Munro, and Bemis genealogy records, and school memorabilia of Smith's daughter, Laura Jessie Smith Bemis.


Box 1

Folder -- Contents

Roy H. Smith

  1. Smith family genealogy notes, 1943
  2. Smith family genealogy notes, 1943
  3. Booklet depicting history of Lamson & Sessions Co. with references to Roy H. Smith, 1965
  4. Research paper written by Smith's great-grandson, Zimri Luce Smith, Jr., 1989. [Includes list and copies of patents held by Smith].
  5. Roy H. Smith correspondence to Laura Jessie Smith, 1941
  6. Photograph "Gathering oats in field back of 451 Park Ave.," [no date]
  7. Photograph "Looking west from 451 Park Ave.," [no date]
  8. Munro family genealogy record [Jessie Munro Smith, Roy's wife]
  9. Nicol family genealogy record [Jessie Munro Smith]
  10. Nisbet family genealogy record [Jessie Munro Smith]
  11. Angus family genealogy record [Jessie Munro Smith]
  12. Obituary notice of Roy H. Smith, 1963
  13. Obituary notices of son Alexander Smith, 1988
  14. Photocopy of obituary notices of son Roy Smith, Jr., 1968 and Alexander Munro, 1907
  15. Obituary notice of wife Jessie Smith, 1958
  16. Record album, "This is Your Life, Roy H. Smith," 1955 [in LP box]
  17. Cassette copy, "This is Your Life, Roy H. Smith," 1955

Laura Jessie Smith [Bemis]

  1. Kent Central High School class pin, 1920-1922
  2. Photograph, Kent Central High School men's trolley league, 1921
  3. Photographs, Kent Central High School class of 1922 [includes parade and photos of women's basketball teams]
  4. School and organization logos
  5. Bemis family genealogy record
  6. Gentry family genealogy record [Bemis]
  7. Pointer family genealogy record [Bemis]
  8. Watkins family genealogy record [Bemis]
  9. Tait family genealogy record [Bemis]
  10. Kent Central High School Memory Book [scrapbook], 1920

Box of glass slides [descriptions based on accompanying sound recording; see items 16 & 17 above]

  1. Introduction, Longfellow quote
  2. Smith portrait, no date
  3. Smith as a boy, no date
  4. Smith's birthplace in Staunton, VA [Smith standing in front], no date
  5. Smith in 1896 shortly after graduation from Miller School in Albemarle county, at age 16
  6. Depiction of Smith moving North
  7. Smith as a student at Brown University, no date
  8. Smith after graduation, no date
  9. Smith after graduation, no date
  10. Depiction of Smith coming to National Screw & Tack Co. of Cleveland to repair machine
  11. Depiction of Smith as co-founder of Falls Rivet Co.
  12. Depiction of Smith entering U.S. Army as a major in the Ordnance Department
  13. Portrait of Smith as U.S. Army major, no date
  14. Portrait of Smith as U.S. Army major, no date
  15. Depiction of Smith as a "Lamson Man"
  16. Smith's wife, Jessie Duncan Munro, no date
  17. Smith family gathering for Roy & Jessie Smith's 50th wedding anniversary
  18. Smith with sons Roy, Jr. and Alex, 1921
  19. Smith with unidentified daughter, no date
  20. Smith fishing, no date
  21. Smith fishing, no date
  22. Smith fishing, no date
  23. Smith in the Rocky Mountains, 1928
  24. Depiction of Smith as "Man of many parts"
  25. Political promotional piece for Smith as Kent city mayor, 1930
  26. Depiction of financial difficulties at Lamson & Sessions
  27. Lamson & Sessions expansion, Birmingham plant
  28. Depiction of difficult financial times, black picture
  29. Depiction of upswing in business, 1932-1939
  30. Depiction of Smith providing the "guiding light" to Lamson & Sessions Co.
  31. Depiction of Smith as mechanical engineer and inventor
  32. Coal punch nut machine designed by Smith, before 1910
  33. Bolt header designed by Smith
  34. Nut punching machine designed by Smith, in 1920s
  35. Machine designed by Smith to prepare nuts to start easier on bolts
  36. Nut finishing machine developed during WWII by Smith
  37. Automatic machine for rolling ends on studs simultaneously
  38. Smith commissioned as Colonel by U.S. Army, 1945
  39. Likeness of Smith made from photograph during trip to Europe with U.S. Foreign Economic Administration
  40. Smith presented with certificate by U.S. Army for patriotic civilian service
  41. Smith presented with certificate by Colonel with George Case, Jr. and Roy Smith, Jr. looking on
  42. Smith receives highest award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1949
  43. Kent Chamber of Commerce presenting Smith with Certificate of Appreciation for years of service, 1952
  44. Interpretation of Kent State University and city of Kent
  45. Smith presented with honorary degree as Dr. of Engineering by president Bowman, 1954
  46. Portrait of Smith, no date