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Oral history interview with Cyril Stanley Smith, 1992 March 18-April 1

Oral history interview with Cyril Stanley Smith, 1992 March 18-April 1

Smith, Cyril Stanley, 1903-1992



Collection Information

Size: 2 sound cassettes (2 hr., 35 min.) : analog.

Format: Originally recorded 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 35 min.

Summary: An interview of Cyril Stanley Smith conducted 1992 March 18-April 1, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art. Smith speaks of his childhood in Birmingham, England; early immersion in analysis of materials; education at Cambridge University; research at Yale University; his work as chief metallurgist on the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos, N.M., where the atomic bomb was developed, his colleagues there, including Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, and J. Robert Oppenheimer; the development of the interdisciplinary research center at the University of Chicago; his position at MIT, where he has been Institute Professor since 1961; and research in the connections between fabrication and aesthetics of art forms and technology.

Biographical/Historical Note

Cyril Stanley Smith (1903-1992) was a metallurgist from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Smith received a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1926 and taught there from 1961 until his retirement in 1969. His title of Institute Professor Emeritus of Metallurgy and the History of Metallurgy, one rarely conferred and only on those whose work goes beyond traditional disciplines, reflects the high esteem in which he was held. Smith has had great influence on contemporary metalsmiths, experts in ceramics, and students of Japanese art, among others.


These interviews are part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use This Collection

For information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Cyril Stanley Smith, 1992 March 18-April 1. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.