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Henry Smith Richardson papers, 1811-1999.

October 12, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Creator: Richardson, Henry Smith, 1885-1972.
Collection number: 4283
View finding aid.

Abstract: H. Smith Richardson, born in Greensboro, N.C. In 1907, he became sales manager for the Vick Company (later Richardson-Vicks, Inc.), which his father founded in 1905 to market Vicks Family Remedies. Richardson was also an early leader in management development, including the Vick School of Applied Merchandising, a college recruiting program in the 1930s, and special reports to shareholders on the importance of management development. He was also a pioneer in corporate governance, initiating practices in the 1940s that spread to other companies in later years. Personal and business correspondence, writings, newspaper clippings and other printed material, and business and association records documenting H. Smith Richardson’s career; papers of Richardson’s family, including his father Vick Chemical founder Lunsford Richardson and his brother Lunsford, Jr.; and papers relating to Smith and Richardson family history, including audio cassettes of interviews with 17 Richardson family members and printed and videotaped oral histories of the Richardson family. Richardson’s correspondence addresses a broad range of issues, including his business interests in the Vick Chemical Company, Richardson- Merrell, Inc., Reinsurance Corporation of New York, and other companies. Letters also document his participation in the America First Committee, the Republican Party, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Boy Scouts of America, the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, and the Richardson Foundation. They also document his interests in anticommunism, Senator Joe McCarthy’s tactics, local politics in both North Carolina and Connecticut, and segregation both in the U.S. and South Africa. Writings include a series of articles about the causes of the Depression in North Carolina. Also included are diaries and correspondence of his father-in- law Jacob Henry Smith, Presbyterian minister in Greensboro during the second half of the 19th century, and his wife Mary Kelly Watson Smith, including materials relating to Greensboro during the Civil War and a letter from a slave. Pictures and other documents relate to Richardson’s father’s birthplace Parker Heights Plantation near Salem, N.C.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: In Series 1 (Correspondence ), there are numerous letters that discuss race relations.A few letters Richardson wrote deal specifically with South Africa. In a letter of 7 June 1955, Richardson described his trip there, which combined bird watching with observing the country’s political situation. Of the growing institution of apartheid, Richardson noted, “These people are thinking exactly as we did in the South when you and I were boys.” Richardson’s continued interest led him to correspond with officials in the Information Service of South Africa (series filed with 11 September 1964).

Especially interesting are exchanges relating to how the South African government could present “the true picture of what South Africa has done and is doing, particularly in the racial field,” as represented by a pamphlet entitled “Progress Through Separate Development-South Africa in Peaceful Transition” (pamphlet not included).

Many letters mention Richardson’s attitudes on race. Richardson believed that communism and unionism, both of which he opposed, were strongest in the North, where, he believed, “vast populations of a different breed have arisen” (16 June 1944). He also felt that there was more contact between members of different classes in the South than in the North (11 May 1933).

There is also an 1854 ¬†letter from an enslaved individual belonging to Judge E.R. Watson, Richardson’s father-in-law. The first name of the person is undecipherable, but the last name is Smith. The content of the letter seems to be the individual is thanking Watson for getting them¬† out of jail (or at least attempting to).

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