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Mary Taylor Alger Smith papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSC-161

Content Description

The collection primarily consists of letters written by Mary Taylor Alger Smith while she accompanied her husband, Commander Roy Campbell Smith, Jr. on his assignment to the Asiatic Theater from 1925 to 1928. Also included is a journal maintained by Mary describing the initial trip, by ship, from Seattle, WA. to China, and her earliest experiences in China. The letters were mailed to family in the U.S. during her time in China and the Philippines.

Mary and the four children split their time abroad between China and the Philippines. The letters cover a wide variety of subjects including, life abroad for military families, Chinese culture, Philippines culture, and many other aspects of life as a spouse to an active duty Navy officer. All of the letters were written by Mary and most of them were sent to her mother in Annapolis, MD.


  • 1925-1987
  • Majority of material found within 1925-1928


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical Note

Mary Taylor Alger Smith (1892-1987), was born in Washington, D.C., in 1892, her parents were Navy Captain Philip R. Alger (1859-1912) and Louisa T. Alger (1866-1962). Her great-grandfather was, Major General Montgomery C. Meigs (1816-1892), U.S. Army Quartermaster General, he served in that role during and after the Civil War. Meigs, among many accomplishments, oversaw the creation of Arlington National Cemetery at the behest of Abraham Lincoln.

Mary was raised in Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, Maryland. In 1912 she married Navy Ensign, Roy Campbell Smith, Jr. (1888-1946). In 1925, Commander Smith was ordered to the Asiatic Fleet to command the USS Noa. Mary and their four children; Montgomery, Louisa, Roy, and Mary, accompanied her husband to the Asiatic Theatre, she and the children lived in the Philippines and China for the duration of Commander Smith’s deployment. The family returned to the United States in 1928, and after time in Newport, Rhode Island, Panama, and Hawaii, they eventually settled in Newport.

Mary was involved in numerous community organizations in Newport. She was an honorary board member of the Newport County Visiting Nurse Service, and she regularly attended the Naval War College lecture series. She supported the Redwood Library; the Newport Art Museum; the Newport Historical Society; Daughters of the American Revolution, William Ellery Chapter; the Mayflower Society; and the Preservation Society of Newport County. Mary was a resident of Newport, Rhode Island, at the time of her death in 1987.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 archival box)

Language of Materials



The collection primarily consists of letters written by Mary Taylor Alger Smith (1892-1987) while she accompanied her husband, Commander Roy Campbell Smith, Jr. (1888-1946) on his assignment to the Asiatic Theater from 1925 to 1928.


This collection is arranged alphabetically by form, and then chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Mary S. Staley, daughter of Mary Taylor Alger Smith, to the Naval War College Foundation (NWCF) on 1995 October 18. Since then this collection has been on indefinite loan to the Naval Historical Collection by the NWCF.


No accruals are expected.

Related Materials

History of the Navy in Narragansett Bay, OH-62, 1985. Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

Separated Materials

Manuscript, “Six Hits and a Miss,” Ragnar Ragnarsson, a history of VP-84, the U.S. Navy Bombing Squadron, was included in this collection and as of 2020 January its location is unknown.

Processing Information

This collection was re-foldered, in archival folders, re-housed in an archival box, and arranged to current professional archival standards 2020 February. The collection was originally processed by Evelyn Cherpak, 1995, the number of folders has been reduced and they have been re-named.

2020 January
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Naval Historical Collection Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US