Gwynne P. Smith papers
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Gwynne P. Smith (1924-2010) was a Republican politician and community activist who served as a state representative in the Delaware General Assembly from 1974 to 1990, representing Delaware's 10th (1975-1982) and 7th (1983-1990) districts (Green Acres).
Gwynne Prosser Smith was born on June 6, 1924, to George and Gertrude Prosser in North Carolina. As a child, her family did a lot of camping, fishing and hiking, and she later worked as a junior counselor for YWCA summer day camps. These experiences in her youth started her life-long passion for the environment. In 1947, she married Dewey H. Smith, Jr, her husband for 63 years. They moved to Chicago, where Dewey Smith attended the University of Chicago, earning a doctorate in organic chemistry, and Gwynne Smith attended Sherwood Music School. In 1950, the Smiths moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where Dewey Smith found work as a research chemist.
After arriving in Delaware, Mrs. Smith began getting involved in her suburban neighborhood and community. In Newark, she helped establish the Brookside Preschool in 1953 and became coordinator of the women's emergency shelter groups for New Castle County in 1955 while working in Brookside Civil Defense. In 1958, when her family moved to Green Acres, a neighborhood in north Wilmington, she served on the Green Acres Civic Association and Green Acres Garden Club in 1958.
In the 1960s, Mrs. Smith's environmental activism increased. From 1968-1973, she served on the State Board of the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs as chair for environmental legislation. In 1969, she organized Delaware Citizens for Clean Air, serving as vice president and membership chair. Also in 1969, Mrs. Smith began a five-year tenure on the environmental committee of the League of Women Voters. She testified at numerous public hearings on clean air, coastal zone, and water resources, and helped consolidate support for the Coastal Zone Act, the Wetlands Act, the Delaware Environmental Protection Act, the Beachland Preservation Act, and other environmental legislation. With Tom Doherty, Mrs. Smith helped write the first piece of legislation in Delaware by citizen volunteers that was enacted into law, the Environmental Protection Act of 1970.
Mrs. Smith first entered politics in 1972, running for New Castle County Council, an election she lost. Two years later, she was elected a state representative to the Delaware General Assembly and served eight consecutive terms until 1990. While in office, Mrs. Smith served on the Governor's Select Committee on Energy Conservation, as chair of the House Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, as a member of the Joint Sunset Committee (on Agency Review), and as co-chair of the State Advisory Committee on Water Resources Management. As co-chair of the House Ad-hoc Grant-in-Aid Committee, she began a review of the entire legislative grant process. Mrs. Smith worked to verify state land boundaries and got money appropriated for statewide updates of the Delaware Geological Survey topographical maps. She sponsored the Bottle Bill, Drought Emergency Powers, Efficiency Lighting Standards in Public Buildings, Preservation of Natural Areas, and the Delaware Food Bank, Leaking Underground Storage Tank Bill, Natural Areas and Non-Game Check-off Bill, handicapped permits for people 85 or older, and other bills.
Mrs. Smith served on the Sea Grant Board of the College of Marine Affairs at the University of Delaware and frequently lectured at the University on the Coastal Zone Act and other environmental matters. In 1987, she received a grant and served on the Task Force on Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), which produced recommendations for action in Delaware classrooms that were accepted and supported by the State School Board. Her final committee assignments in the House were on Finance and Human Resources.
Mrs. Smith announced her retirement in 1990. After retiring from politics, Mrs. Smith served as legislative liaison on the board of the State Federation of Women's Clubs and, in 1991, served three years as an appointed member of the New Castle County Board of Elections. Mrs. Smith died on December 2, 2010.
A Legacy from Delaware Women. Sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Girl Scout Council and the Women's Center of Delaware Technical and Community College and the University of Delaware. Middle Atlantic Press, 1987.Smith, Gwynne P. "Biography." January, 2005.
The Gwynne P. Smith papers document the civic activities and legislative career of a woman committed to protecting the environment and improving the quality of life in Delaware. Consisting of 17.5 linear feet, her papers include logs, notes, correspondence, campaign records, voter registration lists, news clippings, state documents, draft legislation, legislative issue files, newsletters, brochures, realia, photographs, audio-visual materials and oversized maps.
The collection is arranged in nine series: I. Daily logs, II. Correspondence, III. Campaing materials, IV. Delaware General Assembly and political files, V. Legislation and issue files, VI. Activism and community involvement, VII. Press clippings, VIII. Memorabilia, and IX. Maps.
Notable records include Smith's "phone logs" of issue notes and calling networks that document both the grass roots organization behind Delaware Citizens for Clean Air and other groups in the early 1970s and her legislative career; the Green Acres Newsletter which also reflect community communication on social as well as civic issues; clipping files from Delaware newspapers; collected reports and other research materials related to clean air, water resources, Delaware's coast, and land use.
A good amount of the material relates to the Bottle Bill, which Mrs. Smith sponsored, and the Coastal Zone Act, which she successfully defended many times. She worked with Russ Peterson on many issues and her files include correspondence with other Delaware politicians and leaders. Her political files include not only her campaign materials, but papers related to Republican Party leadership in the state and elected women officials.
The collection as a whole is significant in documenting the story of a Delaware woman whose participation in suburban life and community organizations sequed into political leadership as she championed environmental stewardship through state legislation. Gwynne Smith's story mirrors the emergence of American women in politics and the growth of the environmental movement in the late 1960s-1970s. The partnership of grass roots environmental groups with state government led to Smith's co-authorship, with other citizen volunteers, Delaware's Environmental Protection Act and the landmark Coastal Zone Act, which served as a model for national environmental legislation.
Records in this collection were originally organized into rough topical areas, with little internal arrangement. Materials were processed "in place," and during processing, all efforts were made to keep like-records together as they were initially received.
- Boxes 1-16: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
- Boxes 17-20: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (3 inch)
- Box 21: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC oversize mapcases
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC Media Videocassettes, MSS 0528
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC Media Audiocassettes, MSS 0528
Gift of Gwynne P. Smith, March 2005
Surveyed by L.R. Johnson Melvin, 2005. Processed by John Caldwell and Evan Butler, August 2017. Encoded by John Caldwell, September 2017.
- Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs
- Delaware Citizens for Clean Air
- Delaware. Environmental Protection Act
- Delaware. Coastal Zone Act
- Delaware. Bottle Bill
- Delaware. Task Force on Higher Order Thinking Skills
- Political campaigns
- Political participation
- Delaware. General Assembly. House of Representatives
- Women legislators--United States
- Environmental law
- Coastal zone management--Delaware
- Community activists
- Suburban life--United States--History--20th century
- Suburbs--Delaware--New Castle County
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 September 18
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of the collection is open for research. Access to Series III, Folders 60 and 65 is restricted. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, http://library.udel.edu/spec/askspec/ for assistance.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
Activity logs kept by Gwynne Smith, used to record meetings and meeting notes, phone calls, and other daily activities. Handwritten and arranged in chronological order beginning in the 1970s and continuing until 1994.
Correspondence between Mrs. Smith and friends, constituents, politicians, civic organizations, and Republican Party officials. Series includes both official and personal correspondence. Arranged chronologically.
Campaign materials for all of Representative Smith's General Assembly campaigns between 1974 and 1988 as well as her 1972 County Council campaign. Includes brochures, direct mail, district maps, registered voter lists, supporter contact information, voter turnout data, correspondence and other documentation related to her campaigns. Arranged chronologically.
Records include Delaware General Assembly legislative calendars and digests, roll call votes, state publications, and general issue files relating to Representative Smith's committee and constituent services work during her term in office. This series also includes Republican Party leadership and administration information, national Republican Party literature, files on former Delaware Governor Russell Peterson and speeches written and given by Rep. Smith. Arranged chronologically.
Records relating to HB 77, the Delaware "Bottle Bill," its numerous amendments and various versions introduced over several General Assembly sessions. Includes research on bottle bills around the country, the environmental impact of littering and use of non-recyclable bottles. These records document advocacy activities, including public information campaigns, press clips, direct mail campaigns, and legislative lobbying. Arranged chronologically.
Records relating to the Delaware Coastal Zone Act, Coastal Zone Advisory Committee, and various amendments to the original bill. Includes research on the environmental impact of the industrial development of the Delaware Shore area, including the development of coal and oil shipping facilities off of the coast of Delaware. Documents advocacy activities in the form of public information campaigns, press clips, direct mail campaigns, and legislative lobbying. Arranged chronologically.
Records relating to numerous environmental legislative efforts and policy issues outside of the Coastal Zone Act and Bottle Bill. Includes draft legislation, research, and other materials related to environmental issues in Delaware and around the country. Arranged chronologically.
Legislation and issues files concerning a variety of non-environmental legislation over Representative Smith's tenure in the General Assembly. Issues include tax reform, education reform, Delaware state boundary legislation, energy issues, eminent domain, and dog control legislation. Arranged alphabetically by issue area, then chronologically.
Records relating to Mrs. Smith's role in Delaware civic organizations, primarily in the greater Wilmington area, including her involvement in the General Federation of Woman's Clubs, Wilmington Garden Club, and Green Acres Civic Association. Also included are publications and newsletters from environmental groups such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, and others. Arranged alphabetically by issue area, then chronologically.
Clippings from the 1960s through the 1990s. Most clippings are from local newspapers such as the Delaware News Journal. Clippings track important local and national news trends related to environmental issues, Republican Party politics, Delaware politics, and issues of importance to Representative Smith. Arranged chronologically.
Includes Delaware political ephemera (campaign stickers, buttons and bumper stickers), photographs, awards, invitations and information related to the Presidential Inauguration of Ronald Reagan. Also includes some biographical information written by Rep. Smith.
Map removed from Folder 184.
Map removed from Folder 184.
Map removed from Folder 46.
Map removed from Folder 46.
Map removed from Folder 74.