Smith, Henry Louis

Henry Louis Smith

(b. 1859 d. 1951) Henry Louis Smith, D.D. was Davidson’s first president who was not a Presbyterian minister. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Smith graduated from Davidson College in 1881. After receiving advanced degrees from the University of Virginia, he returned to Davidson in 1887 as a professor of physics and was elected president in 1901. He was brother-in-law to future president Walter Lingle.

During his administration, Smith established the first electric light plant in the town of Davidson, oversaw the construction of Lake Wiley, the Carnegie Library, the YMCA hall, Martin Chemical Laboratory, and three dormitories, and saw student enrollment grow from 137 to 340 students. He encouraged the organization of a student government and the development of an athletic field. As a scientist, Smith was involved in early work with X-rays and is credited with producing one of the first X-ray photographs in the United States. Smith left Davidson in 1912 to assume the presidency of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

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Presidents – Works Cited

Robert Hall Morrison, Samuel Williamson, Drury Lacy, John Lycan Kirkpatrick, George Wilson McPhail, John Rennie Blake, Andrew Dousa Hepburn, Luther McKinnon, John Bunyan Shearer, Henry Louis Smith, William Joseph Martin, Jr., Walter Lee Lingle, John Rood Cunningham, David Grier Martin, Samuel Reid Spencer, Jr., John Wells Kuykendall, Robert Fredrick Vagt, Thomas Warren Ross, Sr.

Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Davidson, N.C.: Briarpatch, 1988.

Beaty, Mary D. and Sarah Merritt. “Davidson College Time Line and the Evolution of Chambers.” Davidson Journal 1 (1987): 12-13.

Cromartie, Caroline King. The Physical Development of Davidson, North Carolina: An Historical Analysis. Davidson College Honors Thesis, 1978.

“Davidson Apoints Thomas W. Ross, Sr., As College’s Next President.” Davidson College Press Release, 29 March 2007, on the World Wide Web at: <http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x23408.xml>

Davidson, Chalmers Gaston. “Davidson Celebrates.” Davidson Journal 1 (1987): 2-7.

Davidson, Chalmers Gaston. Mid-Point for ’28. Davidson, N.C.: Davidson College, 1953.

Fischer, Karl W. The Mystics and Beta Theta Pi. Germantown, PA: Beta Theta Pi, 1940.

Giduz, Bill. “President Vagt Announces His Plans to Retire.” Davidson College. 8 June 2006. Found on the World Wide Web at <http://www2.davidson.edu/common/templates/news/news_tmp02.asp?newsid=6550>.

“An Honored Career .” Davidson College Press Release, 29 March 2007, on the World Wide Web at: <http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x23404.xml>

Kelley, Robert Lincoln. Davidson College: A Diagnosis and a Prescription. Lancaster, PA: Council of Church Boards of Education in the U.S.A., 1926.

Lingle, Walter L. Memories of Davidson College. Richmond, VA: John Knox, 1947.

Logan, Van Lear. “Growing Up in Davidson.” Davidson Journal 1 (1987): 20-23.

“Presidential Biography. ” Davidson College Press Release, 29 March 2007, on the World Wide Web at: <http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x23405.xml>

Ramsey, Robert Wilson. Milestones Backward Run: The Story of Beta Theta Pi at Davidson,1858-1940. Davidson, NC: The Phi Alpha Chapter of Beta Theta Pi, 1940.

Ratliff, Charles E. Economics at Davidson: A Sesquicentennial History. Davidson, NC: Davidson College, 1987.

Scherer, John P. A Code of Civility: Antiwar Dissent at Davidson College During the Vietnam Era. Davidson College Honors Thesis, 1989.

Shames, Steven A. A Good Faith Effort: Integration at Davidson College. Davidson College Honors Thesis, 1996.

Shaw, Cornelia Rebekah. Davidson College. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1923.

Shaw, Cornelia Rebekah, comp. War Records of Davidson College, 1917-1918. Charlotte, NC: Presbyterian Standard, 1923.

Spencer, Samuel R. The First Year. Davidson, NC: Davidson College, 1969.

Shaw, Cornelia Rebekah. Davidson College. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1923.

“Timeline.” Davidson College Press Release, 29 March 2007, on the World Wide Web at: <http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x23406.xml>

Author: Molly P. Gillespie
Date: 1998

Cite as: Gillespie, Molly P. “Henry Louis Smith ” Davidson Encyclopedia
1998 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/henry-louis-smith/>

Related Entries: Dormitories, Martin Chemical Laboratory, Physics Department , President’s House, Presidents of Davidson College, YMCA – Morrison Hall

Related Links: Smith’s Presidential Portrait

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