• IdentificationMSSmit71
  • TitleEleanor and Gertrude Smith papers MSSmit71
  • PublisherSpecial Collections
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositorySpecial Collections
  • Physical Description1.5 Linear feet
  • Dateca. 1890s - 1930s
  • AbstractPart of the Jane Addams Memorial Collection. Eleanor Smith was the director of the Hull-House music school from 1893 until 1935. In addition to teaching music, Eleanor Smith composed music for her students. She was head of the Department of Vocal Music in the Cook County Normal School until coming to Hull-House as a resident. While at Hull-House, she joined the faculty of the Chicago Kindergarten College as a music teacher and authored a number of books of vocal music for children, including the multi-volume, Eleanor Smith Music Course. The collection contains correspondence to Myra and Stanley Linn, Jane Addams Linn, Esther Linn and Katherine and Robert Hamill. It also contains newspaper clippings about Mary Rozet Smith. Finding aid available. Acquired from Barbara Shipps.
  • OriginationSmith, Eleanor, 1858-1942

Old Resource ID was ESmith

Eleanor Sophia Smith was born on June 15, 1858 in Atlanta, Illinois to Willard Newton and Matilda (Jasperson) Smith. She was the second of seven children. Her father was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln and served as a campaigner for Lincoln in Southern Illinois. By the 1880s, Smith moved to Berlin, Germany to study voice with Julius Hey and composition with Moritz Moszkowski. In autumn 1890, Smith arrived in Chicago, and soon after began teaching music to adults and children at Hull-House.

Smith taught courses in singing, ear training, and reading and writing of music. The Hull-House Music School was established in 1893, the first settlement music school in the country. The music school was financed by Mary Rozet Smith. In 1897, Eleanor Smith moved into Hull-House, becoming a full-time resident. By 1924 she had moved into the home of Mary Rozet Smith, where she lived until shortly after Mary Rozet Smith's death in 1934. Eleanor Smith moved back to Hull-House and remained a resident until her retirement in 1936.

Smith's pedagogical methods were consistent with her contemporaries Francis W. Parker and John Dewey. Parker hired Smith to head the Department of Vocal Music at the Chicago Normal School for Teachers. Dewey invited her to teach at the University of Chicago's School of Education. Smith became a leader in introducing music into the Chicago Public Schools with her publication in 1898 of the textbook series, Modern Music Series. (The Eleanor Smith Music Series, the second series, was published in 1908.)

Early in her association with Hull-House, Smith instituted the annual Christmas concert, which featured a series of tableaux presented simultaneously with musical performances. Hull-House dramatics students, under the direction of Edith de Nancrede, acted in these performances, while Enella Benedict and her students designed the costumes. "The Troll's Holiday," directed by Edith de Nancrede in 1905, was written by poet Harriet Monroe and set to music by Eleanor Smith, the set was designed by Enella Benedict and included the cooperation of the art school, music school, dramatic clubs, movement and gymnasium classes. In 1915, in celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary, Hull-House published The Hull-House Songs, which represented Hull-House's support for social reform including "The Suffrage Song," "The Land of the Noonday Night," (about unsafe conditions in the mines) and "The Shadow Child," (highlighting the agonies of child labor).

Smith retired from the Hull-House Music School in 1936 for health reasons and lived with a niece in Midland, Michigan until her death in 1942.

Her sister, Gertrude, an accomplished pianist who also taught music at the settlement, took over the direction of the School. In 1929, Edith de Nancrede and Gertrude Smith collaborated in writing a book of songs and dances especially designed for children, "Mother Goose Dances."

This collection contains musical scores, sheet music, and sound recordings of music composed or arranged by Eleanor Smith. Words and music by Eleanor Smith unless otherwise noted. These papers also contain a Memorial program for Eleanor Smith and a recital program. Compositions by Gertrude Smith are also included in this collection.

Alter, Sharon Z., "Eleanor Smith," and "Edith de Nancrede," in Women Building Chicago: 1790-1990, Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, eds., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Materials in this collection were donated by Barbara Shipps, Jean Daugherty, and Don Wheat.

Eleanor and Gertrude Smith papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Names
    • Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.). Music School.
    • Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.).
    • Smith, Eleanor, 1858-1942 -- Archives
    • Smith, Gertrude Madeira -- Archives
    • Smith, Mary Rozet, d. 1934
  • SubjectMidwest Women's History.