Livingston-Fulton Family Papers
Edith Livingston Crary Roberts Smith was born in Poughkeepsie, New York on March 24, 1874 to Rev. Robert Fulton Crary and Agnes Boyd Van Kleeck. She attended Lyndon Hall in Poughkeepsie and subsequently taught there before marrying Charles Henry Van Braam Roberts on June 3, 1896. They had four children: Charles Van Braam Roberts (died in infancy), Edith "Toots" Livingston Roberts, Katharine "Watty" Bruce Roberts, and Richard "Wops" Brook Roberts. Mary van Kleeck, whose papers are also housed in the Sophia Smith Collection, was Smith's first cousin.
Smith's talent as a writer was apparent early on, and she published her first poem in 1892. According to her granddaughter, Smith began writing in earnest in 1902 or 1903 in order to leave an unhappy marriage and support her three surviving children. Although she regained some measure of financial security when she married Alpheus Dutton Smith circa 1903 (he legally adopted her children), she continued to write for twenty-five years, until poor health curtailed her ability to do so in the last decade of her life. She primarily wrote poetry, "pot boiler" short stories, and household advice columns for such publications as American Home Monthly, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, House Beautiful, Ladies' Home Journal, Munsey's Magazine, The North American Review and Women's Home Companion.
In addition to freelance writing, Smith also worked for a time under Dr. Richard Cabot in the social services department of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Her experience there led her to write a series of related articles, most notably "Unmarried Mothers: One Big Job for the Feminist Movement," published in Harper's in 1913.
Edith Livingston Smith died on October 24, 1938 en route from Florida to New York on board the S.S. Shawnee. She was buried at sea.