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William A. Orton Papers, 1922-1952
1 box (.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 42

Abstract:
Professor, economics, writer. Contains articles, speeches, publications, correspondence and photographs.

Terms of Access and Use: Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the William Aylott Orton Papers must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Official Smith correspondence and documents are copyrighted by the Smith College Archives. Provenance and copyright ownership of materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

William Aylott Orton was born on February 9, 1889 in Bromley, Kent, England. He graduated with honors from Christ's College, Cambridge University in 1919 and received his M.Sc. degree in Economics from the University of London for a thesis entitled "British Industrial History Since 1914," a work which was published that same year in London under the title of "Labour in Transition." He received his M.A. from Cambridge in 1922, the degree of Doctor of Science from the University of London in 1946, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Boston University in 1947, and the degree of Doctor of Letters from Georgetown University in 1951.

Orton also served as a lieutenant in the British army in Gallipoli, Egypt and France from 1914 to 1917, and was then connected with the intelligence staff of the War Office in London until 1919. A staff officer in the industrial relations department of the Ministry of Labor from 1919 to 1922, Orton also lectured to the London County Council and the University of London during these years.

Orton joined the Smith College faculty in 1922, and during this time he also taught summer sessions at Bryn Mawr College and at the University of California, and served as a visiting professor at Amherst and Williams Colleges. Throughout his teaching career, he brought to his students a broader concept of the meaning of economics, a historical perspective, a philosophical insight, and a scholarly regard for the wider significance of current problems.

Orton wrote on almost every conceivable topic, and was actively interested in moving pictures as a form of art. He is well-known for his books, Prelude to Economics (1932), America in Search of Culture (1933), The Last Romantic (1937), Twenty Years' Armistice (1938), and The Liberal Tradition (1945). A frequent contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, the American Mercury, the American Economic Review, Harper's, and the New Republic, Orton also wrote the entry on "Liberalism" for the Encyclopedia Britannica. He was well known as a speaker throughout the East. In 1948, Orton gave the Walgreen Foundation lecture at the University of Chicago, and in 1949, he was appointed a trustee of the University of Massachusetts. He was also a member of the American Economics Association and the American Academy of Political Science.

Orton died on August 13, 1952 following a heart attack, ending a 30 year career on the Smith College faculty.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Aylott Orton Papers span a period from 1922 to 1952, the majority of the material covering Orton's long history at Smith. The collection does not contain very much material, a total of three folders. Most of the material is comprised of articles, speeches, and publications. There is an occasional letter or two and some photographs.

The majority of the biographical materials are composed of newspaper articles on Orton and his activities. He was very active in the Smith community and beyond, so quite a few articles summarize his speeches and opinions. A few articles, for example, reveal his interest in the way radio broadcasting and movies were changing and developing. Orton also contributed many opinions to newspapers, and these are included in this series.

Orton was a very prolific writer. Many of the articles he contributed to magazines and journals are contained in the second series, and the materials cover a period from 1924 to 1946. He wrote articles for The American Journal of Sociology, The International Journal of Ethics, the American Economic Review, and the Journal of Social Forces, to name a few. He wrote a particularly controversial article for the Atlantic Monthly, entitled "The Thirteen-Year-Old Level." In this article, he talks about how advertising in the radio broadcasting industry negatively affected the popularity of radio as well as hampered the demand for radio sets. In addition to these articles, this series contains copies of chapel talks given by Orton in 1938 and news releases about the publication of Orton's books.

The photographs are primarily composed of formal portraits of Orton, and all seem to have been taken in the late 1930's. There is also one photograph of Orton's twin sons standing in front of John M. Greene hall.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the William Aylott Orton Papers must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Official Smith correspondence and documents are copyrighted by the Smith College Archives. Provenance and copyright ownership of materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

William A. Orton Papers, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

Processing Information

The William Aylott Orton Papers were processed by Katrina Cokeng, '02, CDO Archival Intern in 1999-2000


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
SERIES I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS


Box 1: folder 1
SERIES II. ARTICLES/PUBLICATIONS
1924-46

Box 1: folder 2
SERIES III. PHOTOGRAPHS
c1930s

Box 1: folder 3
BOOKS ON SHELF



America in Search of Culture
1933


Prelude to Economics
1934


The Last Romantic
1937


Twenty Years' Armistice
1938


The Economic Role of the State
1950



Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Orton, W. A. (William Aylott), 1889-1952.
  • Smith College--Faculty.


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