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Ray Winfield Smith Papers

Identifier: MS-0143

Scope and Contents

The personal papers of glass collector and scholar Ray Winfield Smith are divided into eight series:

(1) Biographical Information, 1917-1984

(2) Glass Research Notebooks and Cards, Circa 1934-1965

(3) Glass Collection Records, Circa 1935-1988

(4) Scholarship and Research Files, 1954-1962

(5) Photographs, Circa 1940-1965

(6) Journal Articles and Unpublished Manuscripts, 1742-1972

(7) Library Index Cards and Finding Guides, Circa 1935-1965

(8) Miscellaneous Materials, 1953-1982


  • 1742-1988
  • Majority of material found within 1935-1975


Language of Materials

English is the primary language of this collection, but researchers will also find materials in German, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Spanish, and other European languages.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public research. Researchers must make an appointment to view this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Biographical / Historical

Ray Winfield Smith was born in Marlboro, New Hampshire on June 4, 1897. He enrolled in Dartmouth College, but interrupted his studies to serve in the military in 1917. He graduated Dartmouth in 1918 with a B.S.

Smith is best known to the glass community as an expert in and collector of ancient glass. His interest in glass was avocational, and he was described as a "voracious" collector. He combined his passion for glass with an international career that allowed him to pursue collecting while employed in other fields. In the 1950s, Smith's collection was one of the largest private glass collections. He collaborated frequently with the Corning Museum of Glass, most notably for the 1957 exhibition "Glass from the Ancient World: The Ray Winfield Smith Collection." He sold his collection in 1975, and much of it found its way into the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass.

From 1919 to 1936, Smith worked as a manager in the Netherlands, Germany, and Brussels for Sinclaire Oil Company. From 1936 to 1941 he served as president of Basic Industries, Houston, Texas, an import-export firm he founded. With the outbreak of World War II, he reentered the military and remained in military and government service until the mid-1950s. By the late 1950s, he had created the Winfield Smith Foundation, which supported research in archaeology. Smith served as president of that organization. In 1958 he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater.

In 1965, Smith proposed a computer project at the University of Pennsylvania Museum focused on stones from the Aten Temple at Thebes/Karnak. He directed the project from 1968 to 1971.

Smith died in 1982 at the age of 85.


34.4 Linear Feet (19 Hollinger Boxes, 12 Half Hollinger Boxes, 16 Half Records Cartons, 3 Flat Boxes, and 20 Card File Boxes)

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Known preservation issues and conservation needs in these materials include:

*Series 2: Most of the Glass Research Notebooks are in fragile condition (damaged bindings,loose pages, and some torn pages). Please handle with care.

*Series 3: The Glass Collection Inventory Cards with Images contain many photographs that have come loose from the cards. Please use with care so as not to separate photographs from their cards.

*Series 5: Most photographs in the albums are no longer secured to the album pages. Please use care so as not to disturb the order of the photographs within the album. Photographs in plastic sleeves (Boxes 68-70) should be rehoused into PAT-approved sleeves.

*Series 6: A number of the Microfolios suffered water damage, and the pages are now laminated and inseperable. Complete indexing of these volumes was not possible.

Ray Winfield Smith Papers, 1742-1988
A Guide to the Collection
Colleen McFarland Rademaker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA