Bernard C. Smith Papers, 1963-1969
- Smith, Bernard C.
- The Bernard C. Smith Papers document the first four years of Smith’s service as a New York State Senator. While Smith is most well known for his work in conservation, these papers from his early Senate career contain significant materials on the issues of abortion, education (especially for mentally handicapped children), medical treatment and penal codes and laws.
- 10.4 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, Box, Folder, Bernard C. Smith Papers, 1963-1969. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Smith Papers).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
This collection contains papers from Bernard C. Smith’s early career as a State Senator, from 1965-1969. In Series 1, Subject Files, the topics with the largest amount of information are abortion, education (especially special education), medical treatment and penal codes. The abortion files contain a significant number of opinions of New York citizens (in the form of correspondence and formal testimony) at the time New York’s abortion laws were being reconsidered. The education files include materials on debates surrounding busing to questions about decentralization and funding. Materials pertaining to medical treatment range from provision of Medicaid to improvement of New York State's mental health resources. The files on penal codes contain information about penal laws and institutions, and there are other related subject files on issues of crime in general.
The Smith Papers contain an abundant amount of Smith’s correspondence with his constituents. Researchers who are interested in studying public opinion on issues of abortion, education, medicine, penal law, and environmental protection in the late 1960s will find ample materials in this collection.
While there are materials in Series 1 that relate to environmental conservation, there are no materials that directly pertain to the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which were developed after 1969. There are, however, individual subject files that pertain to certain specific conservation issues such as the Conservation Bill of Rights and regulation of game fishing.
Series 2, Bills, contains files pertaining to each of the bills that Smith introduced in the State Senate in 1968.
Please note that there also are background materials in Series 1 which Smith referenced while a State Senator that date to 1963-1964.
- Biographical / Historical:
Bernard C. Smith was born in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania in 1923. World War II interrupted his studies at Cornell University and during the war he served as a lieutenant and platoon commander of a tank battalion in the Pacific Theatre. When Smith returned home he continued his studies at Cornell where he majored in government and law. He subsequently earned his bachelor of arts degree and a law degree. He practiced law for 44 years, in both private practice and the public sector. From 1951-1958 he served as a New York State Assistant District Attorney, obtaining the title of Chief Assistant by 1958. He served as District Attorney of Suffolk County from 1962-1965.
In 1965 voters of the 2nd District (part of Suffolk County), elected Smith, a Republican, to represent them in the New York State Senate. During his early years as a State Senator Smith focused on the debate surrounding the question of whether or not to legalize abortion in New York, on creating legislation that would help provide better educational services for mentally handicapped students, and for revising and updating penal codes and laws in an attempt to deal with crime in the state. Smith also began to introduce legislation to protect the environment, which became the main focus of his work in later years.
By the end of his Senate career in 1978, Smith had chaired the Conservation Committee and helped to found the Adirondack Park Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. From 1978-1990 Smith served as the commissioner of the State Investigation Committee.
Smith was married to the former Elizabeth Reynolds for 44 years and they had five children. In 1993 at the age of 70, Smith passed away from an inoperable brain tumor.
- Acquisition information:
Bernard C. Smith initially donated his papers to Syracuse University in 1969. In 2006, the papers were transferred to the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2012 by Laura Welch.
- Politics and Politicians
Abortion--New York (State)
Abortion--New York (State)--Public opinion
Conservation of natural resources--New York (State)
Education--New York (State)
Special education--Law and legislation--New York (State)
Special education--New York (State)
Mental health--New York (State)
Mental retardation--New York (State)
Medicaid--New York (State)
Criminal law---New York (State)
Bills (legislative records)
Files by subject
- Smith, Bernard C.
New York (State). Legislature. Senate
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Committe on Penal Institutions
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Committee on Environmental Conservation and Recreation
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Standing Committee on Insurance
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Committee on Finance
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Education Committee
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Standing Committee on Codes
New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Standing Committee on Banks
- New York (State)--Politics and government