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Records of Superintendent Francis H. Smith, 1839-1889

Identifier: RG-02-01-SmithFH
These files constitute the major record series generated by the office of Francis H. Smith, VMI’s first Superintendent. He served from 1839-1889. The records, (ca. 30 linear feet) consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence, order books, speeches and publications, annual reports, personal file, and subject files.


  • 1839 - 1889


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions; fragile and oversized items may have copying or scanning limitations.

Collections in the VMI Archives are made available for noncommercial educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


30 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

Francis H. Smith served for fifty years (1839-1889) as VMI's first Superintendent. Smith was born in 1812, graduated from West Point in 1833, and came to Lexington, Virginia in 1839 to lead the newly established Virginia Military Institute. He died in March 1890, a few months after his retirement as Superintendent. He was known as the builder and --after the Civil War-- rebuilder of VMI. His official correspondence spans the period 1839-1889, with few gaps. The Civil War era and earlier letters survived Gen. David Hunter's destruction of many Institute buildings in June 1864. Smith corresponded with the notable military, educational, and political leaders of his time, making the correspondence a rich resource for scholars.

Physical Location

Archives stacks, Record Group 02, Superintendent
Finding Aid : A Guide to the Papers of the Virginia Military Institute Superintendent. Francis H. Smith, 1839-1889

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450