Smith, Lacey Baldwin, 1922-2013

Alternative names
Birth 1922
Death 2013-09-08

Biographical notes:

Lacey Baldwin Smith, professor of history at Northwestern University, was born on October 3, 1922. After teaching at various universities, Smith came to Northwestern in 1955 as an associate professor in the History department. During his career, Smith won many awards, including two Fulbrights and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Smith remained at Northwestern even past his retirement in 1993, staying in the capacity of a guest-professor.

Smith's father was a professor of art and archaeology at Princeton University. For his B.S., Lacey B. Smith attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1946. He was stationed in Bangalore, India with the United States Army Air Corps from 1943-1946, an experience which he drew upon for a later publication. He continued his education, receiving an M.A. in history from Princeton University in 1949. For the year of 1949-1950, he was a Fulbright Scholar at London University, returning to Princeton to finish up his Ph.D. in history in 1951, his dissertation entitled “Tudor Prelates and Politics (1536-1558)”.

After graduating, Smith stayed at Princeton, teaching history for two years, and then moved on to an Assistant Professor position at M.I.T. in 1953. In 1955 he took an Associate Professor position in the history department at Northwestern University (despite M.I.T.'s efforts to keep him), and by 1962 he was a full Professor at Northwestern. At Northwestern, Smith served as Chairman of the History department twice (1971-1972; 1974-1977), as well as Director of the Humanities Program, 1983-1985, and was named Peter B. Ritzma Professor in the Humanities in 1985. In 1993 he was officially given Emeritus status upon his retirement, but continued his relationship with Northwestern through guest-professor positions. Outside of Northwestern he held positions in committees and on boards in the American Historical Association, the American Historical Review, the Conference on British Studies, and served as an editor of the Journal of Modern History .

Smith's many publications include This Realm of England, 1399-1689, (1966) volume II of the textbook series A History of England, and arguably was his most popular book. Smith's main historical focus was 16 th and 17 th century England, with a keen interest in Tudor royalty, including Henry VIII, Catherine Howard and Elizabeth I. His first published books focus specifically on these figures, including his 1971 book Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty, and A Tudor Tragedy, the Life and Times of Catherine Howard (1961), which both received some popular acclaim. He published many articles, focusing again on the Tudor period, penning entries for both the Collier Encyclopedia (1960) and the Encyclopedia Britannica (1971), as well as many book reviews.

In his correspondence with students, friends and colleagues, Smith retained an approachability and kindness in all his letters, which garnered much respect and admiration from his colleagues in and outside of the Northwestern community. The various honors and awards bestowed upon him from either the National Endowment for the Humanities or student groups at Northwestern all speak to his character.

Smith married Jean Reeder (who received an M.A. in history from Northwestern), in 1961, and they had three children: MacAllister, Dennison, and Katherine.

From the guide to the Lacey Baldwin Smith (1922- ) Papers, 1942-2003, (Northwestern University Archives)


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  • History--Study and teaching (Higher)--Illinois--Evanston


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