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Carrie Crawford Smith

Carrie Crawford Smith (February 7, 1877 – November 19, 1954)
Educator/Employment Agency Owner

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Carrie Crawford Smith.

SmithCarrie G. Crawford, a native of Nashville, TN, graduated from Fisk University in 1897.  After teaching in various Southern schools, she relocated to Illinois and married Edward A. Smith, a scavenger, in 1907.  In 1916, the family, with five children in tow, relocated to Evanston, IL during the first Great Migration.[1]   She opened the Smith Employment Agency in 1918 that provided “Select Help for Private Families”, according to an advertisement of the time.  Mrs. Smith, who hired both black and white women, wrote the “Smith Employment Agency Standards and Principles”.  This contract explicitly stated that employers were not to put their black employees in any degrading situations.  For more than 40 years, she tenaciously maintained her high standards not only for employers but also for employees.  Mrs. Smith was known to withdraw women from homes when her rules were violated.

In the 1920s, with her marriage ended, Mrs. Smith continued to build her business by adhering to high performance standards.  At the same time, she was actively involved in the Evanston community via the NAACP, the Matilda Dunbar Club, the Evanston Interracial Council and the Ebenezer A. M. E. church.  Mrs. Smith also taught Work Projects Administration (WPA) [2] classes during World War II and continued her education through reading and local studies.  After her death, her sons continued the agency for a time.

1 The first Great Migration was a movement of blacks from the South to urban cities in the Northeast, Midwest [1910-1930]. 

2 The Works Projects Administration was a New Deal agency during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency that provided job opportunities in construction, the fine arts, and literacy projects. 


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

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