William E. Smith Student Diaries Collection Edit


Finding Aid Author
Cody Sprunger
Finding Aid Date
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of Description


  • 1942 – 1957 (Creation)


  • 33 Cubic Feet (Whole)
  • 33 Boxes (Whole)
  • 993 Items (Whole)


  • Preferred Citation

    Researchers are requested to use the following citation in all footnote and bibliographic references:

    William E. Smith Student Diaries Collection, The Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, Miami University Libraries, Oxford, OH

  • Biographical / Historical

    In 1942, Miami University President Alfred H. Upham established a committee to document the University’s involvement in the Second World War. He appointed Dr. William E. Smith, a history professor, to chair the committee. In this role, Smith was charged with collecting documents and other contextual items that would later be used to write a war history for the University. Smith had a personal affinity toward diaries and personal letters, and viewed them as indispensable artifacts in capturing first-hand reactions and opinions during the war period. This thinking prompted Smith to assign his students the task of keeping personal diaries as a way to record the happenings of both the war and university life from their own perspectives. Smith continued the assignment every semester until 1957.

  • Scope and Contents

    This collection includes over 990 diaries written by over 800 individual undergraduate and graduate students of Dr. William E. Smith in the Department of History between 1942 and 1957. The project originated as a means for Dr. Smith and the university to document student perceptions and campus life during World War II, but continued following the war’s end. The contents of the diaries provide commentary on practically every subject relating to World War II, current events, and university life between 1942 and 1957. Included in this collection are 16 diaries written by students from the University of Cincinnati who participated in an evening history course taught by Dr. Smith. Some diaries were written with complete anononymity, while others remain closed to the public for a specified period of time at the request of the author.

  • Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in the following series and subseries:

    Series I: Miami University Student Diaries, 1942-1957

    Subseries I: Student Diaries, 1942-1943

    Subseries II: Student Diaries, 1943-1944

    Subseries III: Student Diaries, 1944-1945

    Subseries IV: Student Diaries, 1945-1946

    Subseries V: Student Diaries, 1946-1947

    Subseries VI: Student Diaries, 1947-1948

    Subseries VII: Student Diaries, 1948-1949

    Subseries VIII: Student Diaries, 1949-1950

    Subseries IX: Student Diaries, 1950-1951

    Subseries X: Student Diaries, 1951-1952

    Subseries XI: Student Diaries, 1952-1953

    Subseries XII: Student Diaries, 1953-1954

    Subseries XIII: Student Diaries, 1954-1955

    Subseries XIV: Student Diaries, 1955-1956

    Subseries XV: Student Diaries, 1956-1957

    Series II: University of Cincinnati Student Diaries, 1944-1949

    Diaries are arranged following a [Last Name, First Name] scheme and are arranged alphabetically within subseries by the author's last name.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research. Item level restrictions are imposed for diaries that remain closed to the public for a specified period of time at the request of the author.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    This collection is under the rules and regulations of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, Miami University Libraries. The Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, Miami University Libraries, owns the property rights to this collection. Learn more about our policy here: https://spec.lib.miamioh.edu/home/permission/

  • Custodial History

    Recieved by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections as a donation.

  • Accruals

    No further additions are expected.

  • Processing Information

    Collection processing completed 2020-02-14 by Darby Edmondson, Austin Hall, and Cody Sprunger. Finding aid completed 2020-05-07 by Cody Sprunger.