You are browsing the archive for Lucy Harth Smith.

by dawn

Lucy Harth Smith

November 13, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s

Mrs. Lucy Harth Smith, an African American activist and educator, was born in Virginia in 1888. She moved to Kentucky where she worked to improve the school systems for the black community and aimed to include black history in historical textbooks. She attended Hampton Institute, graduated from Kentucky State College, and then got her master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati. Mrs. Lucy Harth Smith was the principal of Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Lexington, from 1935 to 1955.

Mrs. Lucy Harth Smith worked diligently to acquire textbooks for African American schools and libraries. She was involved with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History is an organization that researches, preserves, and promotes black history. Preserving and promoting black history was a passion of Mrs. Lucy Harth Smith; she worked ardently to include black history in school textbooks, primarily in the elementary schools.
Smith was also a speaker who lectured about civic, racial, and social improvements. She also served as the president of the Kentucky Negro Education Association, a powerful group that lobbied for educational improvements. Among her many accomplishments, Smith helped raise funds to establish The Colored Health Camp. This camp was free to parents of undernourished and frail children for two weeks with the goal of improving the children’s health.

During the remodeling of the Booker T. Washington School, the architects designed the building so the entrance was on the side of the building. Lucy Smith would not stand for that, she took the matter to the Lexington Board of Education and had the door moved to the front.

Selected resources:
“Famous Kentucky Women” pamphlet by the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, revised May 1997,

Notable Black American Women, Book II. Jessie Carney Smith, editor. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1996. [NOTE: this book is available in many local libraries; here is a search in WorldCat –]

“Lucy Harth Smith,” Journal of Negro History 41 (Apr 1956): 177-179.  Retrieved from

by Measha

Lucy Harth Smith

October 24, 2010 in 1960s-1970s

Lucy Harth Smith made a major impact in changing the lives of African American people in Kentucky. When you read about people who actually devoted their lives to changing the lives of other, it is extremely remarkable. She was a principal at Booker T. Washington Public School in Lexington, Kentucky from 1935-1955. Although Lexington was her place of residence she advocated change throughout the state. She was a pioneer in ensuring that African Americans received textbooks and books for their schools and libraries. During this time period that she was principal segregation was still going on. During segregation the schools for white and blacks were unequal. Blacks either received hand me down textbooks or did not receive them all. To be able to help ensure text books so that they would be able to receive textbooks that is a great accomplishment. Also, she was one of the earliest members of the Kentucky Negro Education Association.

As  I searched for information on Lucy Harth’s life there is limited information. She is not only a women whose story should be tell more in depth, but also glorified more for her great achievements. Without people like her in Kentucky who knows how lives would have been changed, without her making sure African Americans received textbooks.

“Lucy Harth Smith,”  The Journal of Negro History 41 (Apr 1956): 177-179.
Stable URL:

“Famous Kentucky Women” Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture (first issued 9-86; revised/printed 5-97),

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