Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith and James Mapheus Smith Papers
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.
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.
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