Margaret Earhart was born in Evanston, Illinois, on February 3, 1902, the daughter of Harry Boyd and Carrie (Beal) Earhart. After graduation from Vassar College in 1923 ME was involved with a number of journalistic pursuits in Ann Arbor, including research for a book on Emily Bronte, which included travel abroad. Teaching and psychiatric counselling were also part of ME's early work experience. In February 1926 she married Dr. Clement Andrew Smith (b. 1901), a pediatrician. They had four children: Pamela, Margaret Abigail, Reynolds and Hilary. In 1930 the Smiths moved to Boston, where MES lived from then on except for the years 1932-1933 and 1943-1945.
In the years 1930-1943 MES continued to work on the Bronte manuscript, which she eventually destroyed. She became active in early efforts to help refugees from Europe, was the first president of the Window Shop in Cambridge (see the Window Shop collection in the Schlesinger Library), and also helped individuals who were trying to get entrance visas to the United States.
From 1943 to 1945 the Smiths lived in Detroit. In 1943 MES began to study for a masters degree in social work at the University of Michigan, with a particular interest in race relations sparked by the race riots in Detroit. That same year MES, Mary Malcomson Raphael, and several other friends formed the Special Services Committee (see #19). The purpose of the Committee was to encourage, support and initiate programs that would facilitate workers' education and bridge the gap between labor and other parts of society. "It [SSC] is a flying wedge, whose principal purpose it is to explore facts, and serve as a kind of activating force." Most SSC work involved assisting other organizations within the workers' education movement; the SSC provided substantial funds for some programs, largely from MES's family money. Through her work with the SSC, MES became well known in the field of workers' education, developing contacts in unions, universities and government.
The Smiths moved back to the Boston area in 1945, and in 1949 MES became an advisor to and faculty member in the Management Training Program at Radcliffe College. She also chaired the Labor Participation Committee of United Community Services of Metropolitan Boston (1949-1953) and was a trustee of Radcliffe College (1949-1960) and a trustee representative to the Advisory Board of the Women's Archives (1953-1956). MES was on the boards of the Cambridge Settlement House, Cambridge Community Services, Shady Hill School, Family Services Association, Putnam Children's Center of Boston, and Vassar College. The Smiths maintained a summer home in Peacham, Vermont. MES died of cancer on October 8, 1960.
From the guide to the Papers, 1940-1978, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)