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Identifier: WH2055

Scope and Contents

Morgan Smith's papers are comprised almost exclusively of items related to his time in the Colorado state legislature and his subsequent jobs with the State of Colorado. Weekly commentaries written by Smith and his predecessor as the Commissioner of Agriculture, J. Evan Goulding are included. Election materials for each campaign are here, including photographs taken for use in his campaign literature. A controversy with the University of Colorado Law School over enrollment of minorities and women in their program is documented. Planning notes, documents, and photos of his trips to Japan in the late 1980s comprise a substantial segment of the collection. Awards and commendations he received over the years from various organizations are included. The collection contains many newspaper clippings. Some cover his time as a private practice lawyer, but most deal with legislative issues with which he was involved in the legislature, especially while on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) or during campaigns for public office.


This series is arranged chronologically and includes materials and clippings related to each of Smith's election campaigns, and the issues brought to the committees on which he served.


Smith's nomination as Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture and subsequent weekly commentaries comprise this chronologically arranged series. Commentaries of his predecessor are also included.


This series includes Colorado's efforts to create a trade alliance with Japan. The notes, papers, trip itineraries, planning documents, and final reports are contained in this chronologically arranged series.


This series comprises mostly clippings related to the private practice Smith briefly had, and cases related to his pro bono work. Of some note is a tent city near Brighton, and Smith's efforts to secure a variance to allow migrants to remain on his land.


While this series is largely newspaper clippings reporting on Smith's activities, as a legislator and candidate, several certificates and awards are included.


Campaign photographs, including negatives and contact sheets, are a part of this series. Many photographs of the several trade missions to Japan are included.


  • circa 1973-1980

Language of Materials

Material is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Morgan Smith was born January 30, 1939, in New York City. His father, James Hopkins Smith Jr., was the Manager of Pan American Airways' African operations from 1941 to 1943 before serving as a Navy pilot during World War II. James H. Smith married Nancy Morgan in October 1937, and they had three children: Charles Morgan, Sandra, and Dinah. In 1950, the family moved from Long Island, New York, to Aspen, Colorado. James bought North Star Ranch, became a rancher and, eventually, director of the Wytex Oil Corporation in Colorado.

Morgan Smith graduated from Fountain Valley School of Colorado (Colorado Springs, Colorado) in 1956. He was captain of Fountain Valley's football, hockey, gymkhana, and ski teams. He even tried his hand at bronc riding in rodeos around the West while in high school and college.

Smith graduated from Harvard University in 1960 with a degree in Spanish literature. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in January of 1961 and served for two years, first as a medic in the 82nd Airborne Division, and then as a radio operator in the Green Beret unit, 5th Special Forces, at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He was discharged in December 1962.

Smith returned to Colorado in 1963 and attended the University of Colorado where he received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1966. Smith married Julia Stonestreet July 3, 1965; they had three children, Jay, Lee, and Nelson.

Smith joined the Adams County Public Defender’s office in September of 1966 and was appointed Public Defender of Adams County. He remained in that post until December 1969. Adams County's was the first public defender's office in the state, and it served as a model for the statewide system created in 1969. Smith was on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver from 1968 to 1970 and also worked to expand the Adams County Legal Aid program.

Smith entered private practice in January 1970, forming the firm Towey and Smith, which specialized in civil and criminal litigation. He performed pro bono work dealing with correctional and environmental issues and was also active in the American Civil Liberties Union. Smith also became involved in other community issues as a trustee of Colorado Women’s College; founder of the Adams County Youth Services Bureau; member of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education’s Task Force on Pricing; and Chairman of the Board of Adams County Mental Health Center from 1972 to 1974.

Smith was active in various environmental groups as a member, lawyer, and speaker. Inspired by the presidency of John F. Kennedy he became active in politics, joined the Democratic Party and worked at the Democratic National Convention in 1964. He served as a committeeman in Brighton, Colorado, for six years before running for office, in 1972, in the newly created 31st House District.

He was elected to the Colorado House and became one of its most respected members, serving on the Judiciary Committee in his first year. He was reelected twice, and during his second term he was named to the House Appropriations Committee. Because of his experience on that committee, he was selected to be a member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee in 1975. He served as vice-chairman, and was named chair in October 1975.

Smith left the statehouse in 1978 to challenge the incumbent Congressional representative from the 4th District, Republican Jim Johnson. Smith was defeated, but was immediately offered the position of Commissioner of Agriculture by Colorado Governor Richard Lamm. He was confirmed by the Legislature in February 1979. He remained in that post until he was named Executive Director of Colorado Department of Local Affairs in 1982. He held that position until after the 1986 election. While serving as Executive Director Smith got very interested in the potential of international trade for the Colorado economy - both exports of Colorado products and attracting foreign investment. He worked closely with the International Trade office, which was a section within the Division of Commerce. Smith was named to the International Trade Office by Governor Lamm, and led the first Colorado trade mission to Japan in 1986 attended by then Governor-elect Roy Romer. Smith made several subsequent trips to develop direct interaction with Japan.

Smith was named the Director of the Auraria Higher Education Center in 1987, but continued to work on trade issues as co-chairman of a committee Governor Romer put together to see how to proceed. That committee resulted in the Colorado International Trade Office getting statutory approval. He left Auraria in late 1988 to head the Trade Office, staying there until the change of Governors took place in 1999.

Smith was a trustee of the American Farmland Trust and Denver Civic Ventures. He served as a commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and was chair of the Governor's High Tech Council. He also served on the boards of Colorado Outward Bound School and Kent Denver Country Day School.

In 2007 Smith completed a book on a fellow legislator, Joe Shoemaker Joe Shoemaker, A Straight Shooter for Colorado, published by Cowdin Press. In 2008 he was working on a book about his six years in the legislature, focusing on the photographs he took at the time. An avid writer as well as photographer, he and his wife, Julie, then resided in Arizona.


1 Box

1 OVBox

1 PhotoBox

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Morgan Smith, August 11, 2008.


Catalog record based on preliminary inventory.


Roger L. Dudley

October 2008

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States