Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith and James Mapheus Smith Papers

Identifier: MSS.0403

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

The Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith and James Mapheus Smith Papers consist of approximately seven cubic feet of material. The bulk of the papers consist of subject files, writings by Will Ella and James Mapheus, and writings by their associates.

The Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith Papers are comprised of five series and represent almost half of the total collection. The series for Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith are:

  • 1. Correspondence
  • 2. Writings
  • 3. Personal
  • 4. Subject Files
  • 5. Writings By Others
  • Dates

    • multiple

    Language of Materials


    Biographical Note

    Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith was born December 11, 1890 in Union City, Tennessee. Will Ella was one of four children born to Kate Kirkmon Tatom and William Clinton Tatom. Her father, Colonel William Clinton Tatom was co-owner and publisher of the Ohioan Democrat.

    James Mapheus Smith was born October 4, 1901 in Clarksville, Tennessee to Mattie Rudolph and G. Tandy Smith. He received his B.A. from Southwestern University in Clarksville, Tennessee, taught high school for a short time and then went to graduate school. In 1928 he received his M.A. in Sociology from Vanderbilt University and in 1931 graduated with a Ph.D. all the while teaching courses at the university.

    Will Ella was a librarian at Vanderbilt University from 1922 to 1931. She married James Mapheus Smith in Paducah, Kentucky on July 25, 1923. In 1931 she and Mapheus moved to Lawrence, Kansas where he had obtained a position as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. Will Ella and Mapheus stayed in Kansas until 1943 when they moved to Washington D.C. so that Mapheus could work for the Selective Service System. They stayed in Washington till 1966 when Mapheus retired from government work.

    Upon retirement Will Ella and Mapheus moved back to Nashville, Tennessee where they bought a house on Blair Avenue and settled into retired life. Mapheus died January 5, 1968 of a heart attack. As a memorial to him Will Ella made a gift to Vanderbilt University to have the identification plaques made for the trees on campus.

    After his death Will Ella lived for almost twenty years devoting herself to gardening, genealogy, and writing articles for the local papers. Will Ella died April 15, 1986.


    8.4 Linear Feet

    Physical Location

    Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives


    1. 1. Correspondence
    2. 2. Writings
    3. 3. Personal
    4. 4. Subject Files
    5. 5. Writings By Others


    1. 1. Correspondence
    2. 2. Personal
    3. 3. Writings
    4. 4. Newspaper Clippings
    Finding Aid for the Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith and James Mapheus Smith Papers
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description

    Repository Details

    Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

    Special Collections Library
    1101 19th Ave. S.
    Nashville TN 37212 United States


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    This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

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