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Smith Family Collection

Identifier: MS-0584

Scope and Contents

The Smith Family Collection consists of documents spanning three generations of the Smith family and includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, genealogical documents, and annotated photographs in hardcopy and digital format. Of particular interest are Samuel Smith's letters to his niece Marilyn, written while he was living in San Bernardino. Samuel's letters provide details of the community, his life in San Diego and wartime service in France during World War I, and contain photographs and memorabilia. There is also material about Marilyn's brothers, Robert V. Smith and Ronald Stephen Smith. Though this is a small collection, the photographs and correspondence give a picture of life in San Diego at the beginning of the 20th century.


  • Creation: 1862 - 2003

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Historical Note

Wolf and Rose Robinson Smith came to San Diego in 1909-1911. They had five sons and one daughter: Samuel, Philip, Ray, Abraham, Reuben, and Frances. Samuel lived in San Diego until 1957, when he moved to San Bernardino. He was a veteran of World War I in France, a union activist, an early leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue, and founder of the Jewish War Veterans San Diego Post 185. Philip was one of the first municipal court judges in San Diego from 1937 to 1963. Ray was a pharmacist who owned the Ray Smith Pharmacy chain, with stores on El Cajon Boulevard and Park Boulevard in North Park and in Mission Beach. Abraham, also a pharmacist, worked with his brother Ray. Frances worked for San Diego Public Transit. In the 1920s, she and a group of young women started Beneth Israel Sorority. In 1935 Reuben started RW Smith & Company, a wholesale supplier to restaurants and hotels, still in existence in 2021.

Ray Smith and wife Beatrice had two sons and one daughter, Ronald, Robert and Marilyn Smith Tom. Marilyn Smith Tom taught English as a second language to new immigrants. She has three daughters. Her husband, Walter Tom, grew up in San Diego's chinatown.


.42 Linear Feet (One Hollinger box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Marilyn Smith Tom donated this collection to the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego in 2008 (JHSSD #2008.01). It contains material about the descendants of her grandparents, Wolf and Rose Robinson Smith, who came to San Diego with their five sons and one daughter between 1909 and 1911. It includes copies of original documents and digital photos and documents.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Jewish Historical Society of San Diego transferred this collection to Special Collections & University Archives in October 2021.


October 2021

Related Materials

Tifereth Israel Synagogue Collection, MS-0527

Smith Family Collection
Marilyn Smith Tom and Laurel Schwartz
Language of description
Script of description
Robert Smith, Marilyn S. Tom, and Monica Munoz

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US