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Special Collections Online at UT

Margaret Gray and Smiley Blanton Papers

Identifier: MS-0739

  • Staff Only

This collection houses published works, manuscripts, correspondence, research notes, clippings, and photographs documenting the lives and works of Margaret Gray and Smiley Blanton. Topics include speech disorders in children, religion and psychiatry, Bernadette of Lourdes, St. Thomas à Becket, and Eliza Johnson.

The bulk of Margaret Gray Blanton's papers (housed in Series I, Sub-Series A) consist of notes for and drafts of her fiction and non-fiction writing. She was extremely prolific and dabbled in a number of styles, including book, poetry, short story, article, and play. Several of her works were eventually published, including Bernadette of Lourdes (1939), The Miracle of Bernadette (1958), and The White Unicorn (1961). The majority of these manuscripts, however, were either never submitted to publishers or never accepted for publication. They have been arranged chronologically according to the earliest date present in the material.

Margaret Blanton was also an avid genealogist, and some of the materials she collected documenting her own and her husband's families are housed in Sub-Series B. Among these materials are photographs, family Bibles, autograph books, and correspondence.

The majority of Smiley Blanton's papers (housed in Series II, Sub-Series A) document his professional work on speech disorders in children and on the potential for collaboration between psychiatry and religion. Most of these materials constitute draft and published copies of books, articles, radio talks, and speeches. A few items showing Blanton's early life and education (including school notebooks, diplomas, and correspondence) are housed in Sub-Series B.

Oversized material and artifacts have been placed in Series III.


  • 1809-1973
  • Majority of material found within 1858-1973

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


21.67 Linear Feet (24 boxes)


This collection houses published works, manuscripts, correspondence, research notes, clippings, and photographs documenting the lives and works of Margaret Gray and Smiley Blanton. Topics include speech disorders in children, religion and psychiatry, Bernadette of Lourdes, St. Thomas à Becket, and Eliza Johnson.

Biographical/Historical Note

Margaret Leslie Gray was born to Joseph Preston and Cora Leslie (Garth) Gray in Sedalia, Missouri on February 28, 1887. Her family moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1890. After her mother's death in 1896, Margaret Gray returned to Missouri to live with her grandmother and Aunt Sarah Elizabeth Sallie Gray until her father remarried in 1898. She attended public schools until completing sixth grade, the highest level of education required for women at the time. She later said that her father considered that she had learned all she needed to know, as she could run a house, dance, sit on a horse side-saddle, and name the roses in a good rose garden. Margaret Gray married Smiley Blanton (who she reports was shocked at her ignorance) in Nashville on October 18, 1910. He taught at several Universities, allowing his wife to take university-level courses free of charge. Margaret Blanton was also a voracious reader and eventually became sufficiently educated to teach several graduate-level courses and research speech disorders and child development. In addition to her study and research, she wrote prolifically and published several non-fiction books, including Bernadette of Lourdes (1939), as well as a novel, The White Unicorn (1961). She was also an avid genealogist and researched her family and her husband's family throughout the Southeast. Margaret Gray Blanton died on January 4, 1973 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Smiley Jordan Blanton was born to Hiram and Sallie (Brunson) Blanton in Unionville, Tennessee on May 7, 1882. He earned his BS from Vanderbilt University in 1904 and his MD from Cornell University's Medical College in 1914. After serving as a doctor in the U. S. Army during World War I, he earned his diploma in Psychological Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in London, England in 1923. Smiley Blanton began his professional career as an Instructor in the Department of Speech at Cornell University (1907-1911) and went on to work as a Professor of Speech and Mental Hygiene at the University of Wisconsin (1914-1924), as the Director of the Minneapolis Child Guidance Clinic and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota (1924-1927), as a Professor of Child Study at Vassar College (1927-1931), and as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Cornell University (1933-1938) before founding the the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry (where psychiatry performs the diagnosis and Christianity supplies the cure) with Norman Vincent Peale in 1951. Blanton also published several books, including The Art of Real Happiness (1950), Love or Perish (1956), Now or Never (1959), and The Healing Power of Poetry (1960). He collaborated with his wife on several other projects, including Speech Training for Children: The Hygiene of Speech (1919), Child Guidance (1927), and For Stutterers (1936). Smiley Blanton died on October 30, 1966 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.


This collection consists of 24 boxes. The material is arranged into three series:

  1. Series I: Margaret Gray Blanton Papers, 1809-1973 (bulk 1858-1973)
    • Sub-Series A: Manuscripts, Poetry, and Research, 1809-circa 1860s, circa 1900-1973
    • Sub-Series B: Family Papers, 1934-1973 (bulk 1858-1973)
  2. Series II: Smiley Blanton Papers, 1865-1966 (bulk 1896 October 13-1966)
    • Sub-Series A: Draft, Manuscript, and Published Books and Articles, 1865-1966 (bulk 1913-1966)
    • Sub-Series B: Other Papers, 1896 October 3-1966
  3. Series III: Oversized and Other Materials, 1834-1971

Acquisition Note

Margaret Gray Blanton donated the bulk of these papers to the University of Tennessee's Special Collections Library between 1963 and 1972. The rest were transferred by her estate after her death in 1973.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA