Nora Archibald Smith papers, 1878-2009
Collection Scope and Content
The Nora Archibald Smith papers document Smith’s life as an author and school administrator. The collection includes scrapbooks of her writings in publications such as Kindergarten Review, The Outlook, Primary School Popular Educator and New England Magazine. The collection contains correspondence to Kate Douglas Wiggin collected by Smith while writing her biography of Wiggin; correspondence with her publisher, Houghton, Mifflin and Company; and Smith’s private correspondence. This collection also includes many newspaper clippings that inspired Smith’s stories. Photographic portraits of Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith and their friends are also included.
Nora Archibald Smith (1859-1934) was an early childhood educator, school administrator and writer. She was the sister of Kate Douglas Wiggin, known best for her novel Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Both girls were born in Philadelphia to Robert Noah Smith and Helen Elizabeth (Dyer) Smith. Their father died shortly after Nora’s birth and their mother then moved the family to Portland, Maine. She soon married Dr. Albion Bradbury and the family moved into his house in Hollis, Maine. It was in this farmhouse, called “Quillcote,” that both Nora and Kate grew up, and to which they would later retire. In 1873, while Kate attended finishing school in Andover, Massachusetts, Dr. Bradbury moved the family to California. Nora Archibald Smith graduated from Santa Barbara College, which she referred to as “an impermanent institution which never before had conferred similar honors (and never did again)” (Smith, 1925).
Smith taught in the public schools of Mexico for one year, and Tucson, Arizona for two while her sister opened the first free kindergarten west of the Rocky Mountains on Silver Street in San Francisco, California. In 1880 they founded the California Kindergarten Training School together. Nora Archibald Smith then went on to become the superintendent of the free kindergarten on Silver Street and, later, to take over the running of the California Kindergarten Training School in 1889. Smith was president of the California Froebel Society, an executive member of the committee of the International Kindergarten Association, and the vice-president (1891-1892) of the kindergarten department of the National Education Association. Nora Archibald Smith collaborated with her sister to write or edit fifteen books. Smith also authored many serial stories and academic journal articles.