Skip to main content

Bradley Smith Collection

Identifier: MS-0239

Scope and Contents

The Bradley Smith Collection documents the career of photographer and writer Bradley Smith. The collection dates from 1962-1988. It consists entirely of paper records. The collection documents Smith's professional career through correspondence, research materials, book drafts, mockups, and photographs. The entire collection is grouped into one series: Project Files.

The Project Files series documents Smith's research from 1962-1988.  The series covers twenty-two of Smith's books written and published between 1962 and 1988. These books include: The American Way of Sex: an informal illustrated history; Art for Children; Columbus in the New World; Erotic Art of the Masters: 18th, 19th, 20th Centuries; Escape to the West Indies: a guidebook to the islands of the Caribbean; and Life of the Animals (a series of books on wildlife). Significant to this collection are book reviews of Smith's work, correspondence with various people and organizations, and outlines and notes related to his research. Also included are files on projects, project ideas, stories, research material, and general/miscellaneous information. This series is arranged alphabetically by book title. Some of the files are also organized alphabetically; others have no distinct organization.


  • Creation: 1962-1988


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.

Biographical or Historical Information

Bradley Smith was born on June 30, 1910 in New Orleans, LA. He and his family moved to Karnes City, Texas when Smith was a child. He began taking photographs of ranchers and cowboys who came through Karnes City at the age of 12.

During the 1940's while living in New York, Smith began working as a photographer for Life magazine. He also worked as a freelance photographer for several other publications, including Time, The Saturday Evening Post, American Heritage, and Vogue. Considered one of the earliest photojournalists, Smith also worked as an editor for Time magazine, and wrote and illustrated 23 books. His books covered a wide range of topics from erotica to wildlife to foreign countries. He is also known for photographing well-known public figures like Helen Keller, Mahatma Gandhi, and Harry S. Truman as well as jazz musicians Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong.

In 1944, Smith formed the American Society of Magazine Photographers, or ASMP, an organization created to help photographers retain rights to their own work. Still active today, the ASMP, now the American Society of Media Photographers, "promotes photographers' rights, educates photographers in better business practices, produces business publications for photographers and helps buyers find professional photographers."

Bradley Smith died of throat cancer in 1997 at the age of 87 in La Jolla, CA.


15.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials




Bradley Smith Collection
Jennifer Hollander
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

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