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Donor's legacy of generosity makes Conroy Archive possible


The Pat Conroy Archive is now at home in the University Libraries thanks to Dorothy Brown Smith, a woman whose quiet strength and generosity continues to run strong throughout the generations of her family.

“She always encouraged us to really get involved, and she set the example,” said Richard Smith, one of her three sons. “She gave her time and money to so many groups. Her church, St. John's Episcopal Church. York Place, the Episcopal Home for Children in York, South Carolina. Pawmetto Lifeline. The Columbia Museum of Art. Of course, her alma mater, the University of South Carolina. She was even a Boy Scout den mother.”

The USC Libraries were a grateful recipient of Dorothy Smith’s care and support. She played a pivotal role in providing seed money for the Hollings Library building fund, and The Smith Reading Room is now the heart of that facility. She also created the USC Literary Festival Endowed Fund, an annual lecture series co-hosted by the USC Libraries and the Department of English, which brings notable authors to campus. That event is always free and open to everyone. Many times, she gave anonymously.

When Dorothy Smith passed away in October 2012, her family looked for a special way to honor her. And so it was in her memory that The Dorothy Brown Smith Family Fund for the Pat Conroy Archive was created by Richard Smith and his wife, Novelle Smith. As it turns out, the archive itself now resides in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in the Hollings Library, the very building she supported years ago.

“My mother believed in the value of education and the central role a library plays,” said Richard Smith. “She enjoyed reading and literature. And she loved the work of Pat Conroy. She even met him and had lunch with him several years ago. I don’t think we could have done anything better to honor her.

“In looking back at what my mother taught us, I think you have to search your heart and really find what you want to give and what you want to accomplish,” he said. “In our hearts, the Conroy Archive is a gift from the Smith family in honor of my mother. Everyone was involved in the decision, even our two daughters and our two nieces. It shouldn’t stop with us. We’re passing it on to the next generation.”


(In the photo above, provided by the Smith Family: Dorothy Brown Smith, seated, started a legacy of giving that continues today through her son Richard Smith, far right, his wife Novelle Smith, far left, and their daughters Lisa Attaway, center left, and Stella Smith Ball.)

(In the photo at left: Novelle Smith and Jessica Crouch, an archivist working with the Conroy materials, admire special items from the collection. Photo by Lisa Attaway.)



The Pat Conroy Archive

"The Pat Conroy Archive at the University of South Carolina made possible by the Richard and Novelle Smith Family in memory of Dorothy Brown Smith" includes family scrapbooks, personal diaries and handwritten manuscripts of Conroy’s 11 books, including The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides. An archivist in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is working with the more than 10,000 handwritten pages, as well as screenplays, correspondence, and thousands of family photographs. The archive also will include everything Conroy writes for the rest of his life.

“This is our most comprehensive literary archive,” said Elizabeth Sudduth, Director of the Irvin Department. “It is an incredible treasure for researchers, including our own faculty and students."

    Collection items of special note include:

•    Handwritten essays and remembrances about Conroy's time at The Citadel that became his self-published novel, The Boo
•    Drafts of all of Conroy’s produced and unproduced screenplays, including the movie version of The Prince of Tides, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award
•    23 personal journals filled with story fragments and poems
•    Juvenile writings including poetry written during his high school and college years
•    Professional correspondence with editors, publishers, writers and other notables, including Barbra Streisand, John Irving, Jimmy Buffet
•    Family and personal correspondence, including more than 20 boxes of fan mail
•    Letters written by Conroy to his family during his time at The Citadel
•    Letters written by Conroy during his time on Daufuskie Island, as well as letters written by his students. His experience on Daufuskie would later become The Water Is Wide

•    More than 75 scrapbooks created by Conroy’s father, Donald Conroy. The scrapbooks, which contain various items Pat Conroy collected between 1974 and 1998, were referred to by Donald Conroy as the “ARCs.” Some of the items include letters, cards, newspaper clippings and family photographs. The ARCs became the basis for Conroy’s novel The Death of Santini. As with all of the items in the Conroy Archive, the ARCS (shown here) are housed in a secure, temperature- and humidity-controlled space in the Hollings Library.