A Guide to the Wilford Bascom Pitchfork Smith Papers, 1905-1940
Born in Oklahoma, publisher Wilford Bascom "Pitchfork" Smith (1884-1939) grew up in North Texas, where his father preached in Methodist churches. Graduating from East Texas Normal College, now East Texas State University, Smith taught public school before starting the Enloe Ensign newspaper. After the paper failed, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where in 1905 he passed the Missouri bar and married the widow Blanche Le Seur, with whom he had one daughter, Doris. Two years later, Smith began publishing Plain Talk, later renamed The Pitchfork, which criticized local politics and race relations, provoking public burnings of the monthly magazine. Moving to Dallas, Texas, in 1908, Smith continued publishing the magazine and in 1914 began advocating Georgism, which promoted economist Henry George’s theories. As a proponent of social justice, Smith supported prison reform, worker’s rights, and the repeal of prohibition.
McEnteer, James. "Smith, Wilford Bascom."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed February 25, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsm46.
Comprised of correspondence, articles, poems, publications, a scrapbook, and other items, the Wilford Bascom "Pitchfork" Smith Papers, 1905-1940, concern Smith’s publishing career and political stances. Correspondence, 1905-1940, primarily contains letters about articles in The Pitchfork as well as his friend’s lives from Smith’s readers, colleagues, and friends, including Opie Read, Frank P. Walsh, William E. Sayle, Jr., and Governor James E. Ferguson. Publications, 1908-1939, include obituaries for Smith, The Pitchfork Scrapbook, copies of his speeches, newspaper clippings, and issues of The Pitchfork, which contains articles on politics in Texas, opinions on specific newspapers and their editors, racial issues, and the influence of the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations in state and national politics. Twelve photographs depict Smith, his wife Blanche, and possibly the family’s dog. Smith’s scrapbook contains a handwritten list of quotes and newspaper clippings on presidential elections by Frederic J. Haskin. Typescript articles and poems by Smith include "The Hills,""The Maiden,""The Test of a Man,""Henry Ford’s Impudence," and "The Strange Case of Robert M. LaFollette," among others. Additionally, the collection consists of a 1908 certificate and oath of office for Smith from the Kansas City Department of Engineering and a biographical sketch on Smith by Nova Dickson.
This collection is open for research use.
Wilford Bascom "Pitchfork" Smith Papers, 1905-1940, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers