White Cloud Smith [RG4248.AM]

HISTORY NEBRASKA MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID

RG4248.AM:  White Cloud Smith, 1879-1975

Papers:  1918-1960
Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Actor, musician, teacher, lecturer
Size:  0.25 cu.ft.; 1 box

BACKGROUND NOTE

According to his obituary, White Cloud Smith was born in a covered wagon between North Platte and McCook, Nebraska, in November 1879.  Other sources give his year of birth as 1877, and his place of birth as a sod house near North Platte.  He was named by his mother, who was part Pawnee Indian, either for the first thing she noticed after his birth or for the lightness of his skin.

White Cloud Smith’s musical talent was probably a skill he inherited from his father, Capt. John T. Smith, leader of Nebraska’s First Regimental Band.  White Cloud began his performing career at age fourteen as a trumpet player with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West concern and circus band.  As a member of the band, Smith appeared at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

After attending Nebraska Wesleyan and the University of Nebraska, where he majored in law, Smith studied drama and traveled with the Chautauquas then appearing in Nebraska.  Eventually he became a “one-man show” spending thirty-five years as a performer/lecturer.  Smith was known nationally for performing a three-act, six character play about Davy Crockett in which he played all six parts.  In the 1930’s, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Tennessee for his role in promoting the legend of Davy Crockett.

Forced to cancel his traveling shows as gas rationing took effect during World War II, Smith, in 1949, at age seventy, accepted the job of superintending schools at the Nebraska Penitentiary.  Five years later he became a guide at the State Capitol.  He held this position until he retired at age eighty-three.  White Cloud Smith died in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 1, 1975.  He was survived by his wife, Hazel, and one daughter.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

This collection consists of manuscript material arranged in three series:  1) Performance Materials, 1918, 1934, and n.d.; 2) Newspaper Clippings, 1934-1939, and 1958-1960; and 3) Miscellany, 1933-1960.  This collection relates to the career of White Cloud Smith as actor, lecturer, and monologist.

The performance Materials of Series 1 includes scripts, monologues, lecture notes, and poems by Smith in his presentations.  Of particular interest is the Davy Crockett Script (Folder 1), which Smith probably used in performing his one-man play.  Although most of the items in this series are undated, two of the scripts have dates of 1918 and 1934.

Series 2 is comprised of Newspaper Clippings, 1934-1939 and 1958-1960.  The clippings from the 1930’s document Smith’s appearances around the country.  Later clippings describe his varied career.  The Miscellany of Series 3 includes a program featuring Smith, 1960, and letters of recommendation about him, 1933-1944 and 1950.

Note:  See the portrait collection [RG2411.PH] for images of White Cloud Smith and Hazel L. Smith.  See also the audio collections [RG4161.AU and RG4849.AU] for recorded interviews of White Cloud Smith.

INVENTORY

Series 1 - Performance materials, 1918, 1934, n.d.
Box 1
Folder

  1. Scripts, 1918, 1934, and n.d.
  2. Scripts, 1918, 1934, and n.d.
  3. Monologues
  4. Lectures
  5. Poems
  6. Notes of Presentations

Series 2 - Newspaper clippings, 1934-1939; 1958-1960

  1. Newspaper clippings about White Cloud Smith’s appearances, 1934-1939 and 1958-1960.
  2. Newspaper clippings about White Cloud Smith’s appearances, 1934-1939 and 1958-1960.

Series 3 - Miscellany, 1933, 1944, 1950, 1960

  1. Program, 1960, and letters of recommendation, 1933, 1944, 1950
  2. The Older Nebraskans' Voice, vol. 6, no. 6, 1975, "White Cloud Smith,"  pp. 4-8

 

AIP/pmc                06-02-1988
KFK/do                  01-17-2003

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