Fonds RC0498 - Rutherford B.H. Smith fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Rutherford B.H. Smith fonds

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  • 1930-1970 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

20 cm of textual records and other materials

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Biographical history

Rutherford Smith was born on 3 November 1877 in Mount Hope, Ontario, the second son of Joel and Margaret (née Dancey) Smith. He graduated from Caledonia High School and joined his dad in their carriage building business. After his father’s death, Robert Murphy, an archaeologist, helped Smith with his collection in the 1930s. Smith became interested in archaeology after his marriage to Ethel Louise Fothergill in 1929. He enjoyed finding artifacts, researching them and then giving them away. William Cleland and his nephew J.B. Morton convinced Smith to collect artifacts for their value. His wife often helped him catalogue artifacts. He was an active collector from 1933 until 1959. He excavated 64 sites almost entirely within Wentworth County. The largest and most important site from which he collected was the Dwyer Ossuary (AiHa-3) in Beverly Township. After the completion of the dig, he stopped actively collecting. Smith’s main source of artifacts (other than digging himself) was from close friends, William Cleland and Frank Butters, and from farmers as gifts. The Smith artifact collection contains over 10,000 artifacts. The Smith artifact collection, now housed the Ethnography collection in the Department of Anthropology, was willed to McMaster University, shortly after Smith’s death on 10 October 1952 in Guelph, Ontario.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of one box containing 6 files: File 1 Artifact Catalogue; File 2 biographical information (report by S.M. Jamieson, 1970); File 3 correspondence (1943-1948); File 4 Dwyer Ossuary (AiHa-3) (1939-1950); File 5 newspaper clippings (1933-1950); and File 6 photographs (one of E.J. Case) (1938-1948).

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Immediate source of acquisition

Practically all of the fonds was acquired by McMaster University in 1952 with Smith’s artifact collection. Fonds acquired by Archives and Research Collections in 2011.


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There are no access restrictions.

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Researchers may also wish to consult other related records in the McMaster Anthropology Department.

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No further accruals are expected.

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