Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Smith, Emily B.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

SMITH, EMILY B. (1904–1975).

Educator Emily B. Smith was born on September 3, 1904, to cultured, educated parents, Byron Frances and Anneta Duggin Smith, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Soon after she was born, the family relocated in southwest Oklahoma, and her father established a successful ranching operation. As a young girl Emily was stricken with polio, and although given the best care, she suffered a limp throughout her life. A gifted student, she completed a bachelor's degree in history at Oklahoma College for Women (now University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma) and a master's degree in history at the University of Oklahoma, where she was a classmate of Carl Albert. She then returned to Jackson County to begin a history-teaching career. She taught at Lincoln Consolidated School, Eldorado School, and Altus High School.

In 1933, during the Great Depression, Smith accepted the position of dean of Altus Junior College, which became Western Oklahoma State College. Enrollment had dwindled to twenty-seven students. Smith quickly built community support and initiated federal programs, such as the National Youth Administration and the Civil Aviation Program. Enrollment rose to six hundred students by 1940, the end of Smith's tenure. With the courage and fortitude developed from her long battle with the aftereffects of polio, she gained a secure future for Western Oklahoma State College.

A member of the First Presbyterian Church in Altus, Smith also belonged to the Anne Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a chapter of the PEO Sisterhood, and various professional organizations. She died following surgery on August 21, 1975, in an Amarillo, Texas, hospital and was buried in Altus Cemetery.

Glyna G. Olson

Learn More

Altus (Oklahoma) Times-Democrat, 24 August 1975.

Glyna G. Olson and Leo Kelley, "Emily B. Smith: Educator with Vision," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 69 (Fall 1991).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Glyna G. Olson, “Smith, Emily B.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SM004.

Published January 15, 2010

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.