Feven and Tamara outside Bethany -- 6.28.21.jpeg

Feven Getachew '24 and Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant outside Mrs. Smith's home, June 28, 2021.

This website emerged from research completed by Feven Getachew '24 and Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant, Louise R. Noun Chair in Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell College.  In Summer 2021, Getachew and Beauboeuf-Lafontant undertook a project titled, "First among us: The undergraduate experience of Edith Renfrow Smith '37."  A number of serendipitous interactions with members of the Grinnell College network quickly shifted our work from an archival project to an opportunity to engage with living history.  You may read Ms. Getachew's reflection on her experiences here, in the November 2021 Grinnell Magazine article, "When a name becomes a person: My summer research with Mrs. Edith Renfrow Smith '37."  Mrs. Smith's October 2021 visit was also covered in the S&B and in the Alumni News.

We are indebted to many for their generous contributions to our understanding of Mrs. Smith's life and significance:

  • Mrs. Edith Renfrow Smith and Miss Alice Frances Smith
  • Monique Shore '90, Systems Administrator, Drake Community Library, Grinnell, IA
  • The Edith Renfrow Smith wikipedia page
  • The Renfrow Story: The deep roots and family legacy of Edith Renfrow Smith, Grinnell Local History Resources, Drake Library, Grinnell, IA
  • Dr. Dan Kaiser, Professor Emeritus of History, and author of Grinnell Stories: African Americans of Early Grinnell
  • Tierney Steelberg, Digital Liberal Arts Specialist, Grinnell College
  • Chris Jones, Special Collections Librarian and Archivist of the College, Grinnell College
  • Allison Haack, Library Special Collections & Archives Assistant, Grinnell College
  • Abbey Scheckter '02 
  • Rachel Fore '18
  • Stuart Yeager, '82, author of The Black Experience at Grinnell College Through Collected Oral History and Documents, 1863-1954 (1984: Grinnell College Libraries Special Collections)  

The quoted material in these pages comes from several interviews that Mrs. Smith has given with members of the Grinnell College and town community.  These sources include:

  • Oral history interview with Laura M. Wieman and David H. Jordan, June 2, 1981.
  • Oral history interview with Stuart Yeager '82 and David Jordan, February 25, 1982, Grinnell, IA.
  • Interview with Jackie Hartling Stolze, Web extra for 'A woman worth knowing,' The Grinnell Magazine, 39(4), 2007.
  • Interview with Ben Binversie '17, All Things Grinnell, October 19, 2019.
  • Remarks made upon receipt of honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Grinnell College, May 20, 2019.
  • Oral history interviews with Feven Getachew '24 and Tamara Beauboeuf, June 28, 2021 and August 11, 2021, Chicago, IL.

Click below for more information about Renfrow Hall:

The images used on this website can be clicked upon for additional information, including image sources and rights.