Howard Van Smith

Howard Van Smith, born Howard Smith (April 6, 1909 – August 14, 1987), was an American journalist. A longtime staffer for The Miami News and several other newspapers, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1959.[1]

Howard Van Smith
BornHoward Smith
April 6, 1909
Forest Hill, New Jersey
DiedAugust 14, 1987 (aged 78)
Jacksonville, Florida
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for National Reporting
Anne McCarron
(m. 1938; d. 1987)

Early life and education

Born in Forest Hill, New Jersey, he was the son of Arthur Smith and Florence (Garrettson) Lockwood. He was graduated from Pennington Preparatory School in Pennington, New Jersey, in 1929 and from college (perhaps Union College or Franklin & Marshall College) in 1937.


He worked as a copy boy at The New York Times. At around this time, he changed his name from Howard Smith to Howard Van Smith, reportedly in order to avoid being confused with another person named Howard Smith.[1]

He was a staff reporter for the New York Times from 1930 to 1932, then worked as a freelance writer from 1933 to 1935. He was a heating and hydraulics engineer from 1935 to 1942. He worked as a civilian engineer for the U.S. Air Force at Warner-Robins Air Force Base in Georgia from 1942 to 1944.

He was a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel in 1944, then a Sunday editor for The Miami News from 1945 to 1957 and a "special writer" for that newspaper from 1957 to 1965. From 1948 to 1954, while at the Miami News, he was also a lecturer at the University of Miami. From the Miami News, he moved to the Fort Lauderdale News, for which he worked from 1965 to 1977.

He then left journalism, working as an administrative assistant at the Florida Department of Agriculture in Davie, Florida, from 1978 to 1980. He was editor of the Florida Nurseryman from 1981 to 1986.

Books and other writings

He co-wrote the 1963 book The New Speech-O-Gram Technique for Persuasive Public Speaking with C. Raymond Van Dusen.[2]

He also wrote a 1973 book, The Education of Juan.

In addition, he was contributor of articles and short stories to various national magazines.

Other professional activities

Van Smith was an adviser for Edward R. Murrow's 1962 CBS Reports television documentary Harvest of Shame. "It was the only documentary to make television's Hall of Fame."[3]

Honors and awards

In 1959, while at the Miami News, Van Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of articles that focused public notice on deplorable conditions in migrant labor camps in Homestead and Immokalee, Florida. A January freeze had destroyed most of the winter crops in the area, stranding the workers, about 4000 in all, in shantytowns "mired in filth." His reporting "brought in $100,000 in contributions and prompted official action" and "gave national attention to the problem of migratory laborers." In particular, his articles were said to have stirred the feelings of Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, who saw to it that conditions for the workers were improved.[4][5] The series also "resulted in vastly improved conditions" for agricultural migrant laborers and "tightened state regulations" governing their working conditions.[3]

He won an award of merit from the Florida Public Health Association in 1959 and the Service to Mankind award in 1961. He was named to the Horticultural Hall of Fame in 1976 and selected as foremost gardening writer by the American Association of Nurserymen in 1978. He was also a New York State Center for Migrant Studies fellow at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

He reportedly also won "several awards as a garden writer and columnist."[3]

Personal life

He married Anne McCarron on June 21, 1938. They had four children, Garrett, Parris, Antony, and William. He married Micheline Mathews on November 26, 1965. Micheline was formerly married to John F. Mathews, with whom she had a daughter, Van Smith's stepdaughter, Micheline Mary Mathews. The stepdaughter taught bacteriology at Harvard Medical School and married Dr. Robert Steele Roth in 1966.[6]


He died in a four-vehicle auto accident in Jacksonville, Florida, which also injured his wife, Micheline. He was driving his 1986 Honda Accord when it struck two other cars on the Trout River Bridge, then hit the rear end of a flatbed truck that was approaching a toll plaza in a northbound lane of Interstate 95. Investigators speculated that Van Smith had blacked out at the wheel. He and his wife were taken by air ambulance to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.[3]


After his death, an editor of the Sun-Sentinel, Barc Bowman, described Van Smith as a man who "really had a genuine sense of compassion for the poor people and the people who, not from their own fault, led tough lives....Anyone can write about those things, but Howard was someone who really felt for the people he wrote about." Vern Williams, an assistant editor at the Miami News, called the series of articles "a work of the heart," adding that "Howard was an editor with an extraordinary ability to encourage writers to look beneath the surface of the town`s troubles and triumphs....He was also a very compassionate writer himself."[3] Van Smith's former city editor at the Miami News, John McMullan, said that Van Smith had been "devoted to accuracy and had a high social conscience."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Associated Press (August 17, 1986). "1959 Pulitzer Prize winner Howard Van Smith killed in wreck". Jacksonville: Gainesville Sun.
  2. ^ Smith, C. Raymond Van Dusen, Howard Van (1983). The new Speech-O-Gram technique for persuasive public speaking. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 978-0136157328.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sun-Sentinel (August 17, 1986). "Howard Van Smith, 77, Winner Of Pulitzer Prize". Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  4. ^ New York Times (May 5, 1959). "Sketches of the Pulitzer Prize Winners for 1959 in Letters, Music and Journalism; TWO RECIPIENTS HAVE WON BEFORE". Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  5. ^ Florida Historical Society. "Howard Van Smith Wins Pulitzer Prize". Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  6. ^ New York Times (February 27, 1966). "Dr. Micheline Mary Mathews Betrothed to Dr. Robert Roth". Retrieved April 8, 2016.
1959 Pulitzer Prize

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1959.

Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting

This Pulitzer Prize has been awarded since 1942 for a distinguished example of reporting on national affairs in the United States. In its first six years (1942–1947), it was called the Pulitzer Prize for Telegraphic Reporting – National.

The Miami News

The Miami News was an evening newspaper in Miami, Florida. It was the media market competitor to the morning edition of the Miami Herald for most of the 20th century. The paper started publishing in May 1896 as a weekly called The Miami Metropolis.

The Metropolis had become a daily (except Sunday) paper of eight pages by 1903. On June 4, 1923, former Ohio governor James M. Cox bought the Metropolis and renamed it the Miami Daily News-Metropolis. On January 4, 1925 the newspaper became the Miami Daily News, and published its first Sunday edition.Cox had a new building erected for the newspaper, and the Miami News Tower was dedicated on July 25, 1925. This building later became famous as the Freedom Tower. Also on July 25, 1925, the News published a 508 page edition, which still holds the record for the largest page-count for a newspaper.The News was edited by Bill Baggs from 1957 until his death 1969. After that, it was edited by Sylvan Meyer until 1973. Its final editor was Howard Kleinberg, a longtime staffer and author of a comprehensive history of the newspaper. The paper had the distinction of posting its own demise on the final obituary page.

In 1973, the News moved in with the Knight Ridder-owned Herald at One Herald Plaza, sharing production facilities with its morning rival while maintaining a separate editorial staff. A 30-year joint operating agreement inked in 1966 made the Herald responsible for all non-editorial aspects of production, including circulation, advertising and promotion. Citing losses of $9 million per year, declining circulation (from 112,000 in 1966 to 48,000 in 1988 while households in the Dade County area grew 80 percent) and owner Cox Newspapers unable to find a suitable buyer to save the paper, the News ceased publication on December 31, 1988. Some of the newspaper's staff and all of its assets and archives were moved to nearby Cox publication The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach. An entire searchable archive of the newspaper is available online via small selection of photographs were donated to the Archives and Research Center of HistoryMiami.Notable former employees include writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Dorothy Misener Jurney, journalist and author Helen Muir, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Don Wright, Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker, photographer Michael O'Brien, columnist John Keasler and best-selling author Dary Matera, who served as a general assignment reporter from 1977 until 1982.

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