|Collection||Phoebe Smith Collection|
|Credit line||courtesy Mr. Powell|
|Access Conditions||Open for research|
|Copyrights||no known restrictions|
|Scope & Content||This is a pocket book of the New Testament with very worn covers and missing title page.|
Phoebe Downs Smith was born in Elgin, Iowa, in 1931 to Jacob A. Downs, Sr., and Ruby M. Downs. The Downs family had nine children, including Phoebe, her sisters -- Anna, Grace, Mable, and Gloria Downs-- and her brothers-Jacob, Benjamin, Emil, and Otto Downs. Phoebe graduated from Elgin High School in 1949 and attended the Art Institute of Chicago until 1951.
On June 16, 1951, Phoebe Downs and Vernon Smith married in Elgin, IL. They made their home in Iowa City while Vernon completed his degree at the University of Iowa. In 1952, Vernon Smith completed his Master's degree in Organic Chemistry and the couple welcomed a daughter, Ruby Vesta Smith. In August, Vernon Smith was stricken with polio and lost the use of his legs, his right arm, and half of his left arm. He was hospitalized for a year at the University of Iowa hospital and the Veteran's Administration hospital in Iowa City. From 1953 to 1956, Vernon lived at home and underwent extensive physical therapy. During this time, their son, Vernon Paul Smith Jr., and their daughter, Deborah Verna Smith, were born.
In 1956, Vernon joined the staff at St. Luke's Methodist Hospital in Cedar Rapids as a lab technician. The Smiths welcomed two more daughters, Phoebe Delores Smith and Katharine G. Smith. The couple became involved in a variety of community organizations. The family belonged to the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids. In addition, Phoebe Downs Smith was active in the P.T.A., Girl Scouts of America, the Criterion Club, the Cedar Rapids League of Women Voters, and the Iowa Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. She served as a volunteer preschool teacher at the Jane Boyd Community House from 1962 to 1970. In 1977, Phoebe Smith was nominated for "Iowa Mother of the Year" and named a Merit Mother by the Iowa Mother's Association. In 1978, Phoebe Smith accepted a position as a Civil Service test examiner.
African Methodist Episcopal