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Samuel Francis Smith Manuscripts

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Dec 1996

Biographical History

Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895) was an American Baptist minister, journalist and author from Boston. He graduated from Harvard and after trying a career in journalism attended Andover Theological Seminary. He is best known for having written the lyrics to "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (the tune is considerably older) which he originally called "America," and which was first performed on July 4, 1831.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Samuel Francis Smith Manuscripts contains two manuscripts. One is a later copy of the lyrics to "My Country Tis of Thee" (which he originally titled "America"), and includes a stanza written for the Centennial celebration. The other is Smith's account of a New England Christmas, circa 1815:

At that period, the notice of the day was confined almost entirely to families connected with the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches...The public schools, if I remember rightly, and I think I do, were not closed if it occurred on a week-day. There was no beautiful exchanging of presents, either for the grown people or the children...Many people of other Christian denominations were apt to crowd into the Episcopal churches to see the decorations of evergreen and to hear the service, but there was nothing beside to distinguish the day from all other days of the year.

Arrangement of the Collection

No order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Smith, Samuel Francis, 1808-1895.

Associated Titles

God save the King.


Authors, American -- 19th century.
Christmas -- United States -- History.


New England -- Social life and customs.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts (document genre)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Samuel Francis Smith Manuscripts,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of George and Lena Arents, 1973.

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