From UNC Libraries:
A new addition to the University Libraries now paints a fuller portrait of the man off the court. Smith’s family recently donated to UNC-Chapel Hill 12,000 items from Smith’s early years and post-basketball life. They will be part of the Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library.
The collection contains school projects and newspaper clippings from Smith’s childhood in Emporia, Kansas, and personal letters and speeches from his retirement.
“It tells us about Dean Smith as a person,” University Archivist Nicholas Graham said about the collection, which is open to the public. “This kind of fills out the details in his biography and shows more about him as a person and his service after he finished coaching.”
The items are among the more than 5,000 collections of primary documents, such as diaries, correspondence, photographs, maps and oral histories documenting Southern history that are housed in the Southern Historical Collection.
Bryan Giemza, director of the Southern Historical Collection, said the addition of Smith’s papers showcases the coach’s impact on the University, college basketball and the South.
“Here is one of the most important public figures ever associated with the University and, of course, his roots are in Kansas, so it’s really interesting to see how a persona develops and the way that southerners embraced him as part of the bigger story of southern basketball,” he said.
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For those interested in learning more about Smith’s career at UNC, there is a wealth of information available in scrapbooks that were maintained by his parents over several decades. These include newspaper clippings and programs and are a great way to follow the progress of some of Smith’s legendary Tar Heel basketball teams.
The largest part of the collection is the files from Smith’s retirement office (as he often said to his correspondents, after retirement he still went to the office every morning, but he left whenever he felt like it). The retirement files include lots of correspondence with friends and coaches. Smith faced a seemingly endless number of invitations to speak and to accept awards. He accepted some, participating in ESPN’s 25th anniversary celebration and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award. Perhaps of more personal importance, he traveled Kansas in 2001 to accept the Kansan of the Year award and returned again in 2007 for the 55th anniversary of the 1952 basketball team. His papers show that he kept up with many longtime friends and family members in Kansas.
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