William A. Smith, owner of a successful railroad construction company, and his wife, Madeline Welder Smith, spent a great deal of their efforts toward community enterprises, bestowing substantial benefits on hospitals, museums, universities and other charitable organizations. After William Smith’s death in 1991, his will established a foundation. Mac McGee, a trustee of the foundation and a friend and adviser to the Smith’s for many years, decided that the foundation’s funds be used to assist students at the University of Texas at Austin.
When McGee met with an officer in the University’s Development Office, he talked about his experience attending the University during the Great Depression. McGee made his own way in school, taking out student loans and working part-time jobs. One of those jobs was in the University of Texas Archives. Hearing his enthusiasm for genealogy and historical research, the development officer gave McGee a packet of information about the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
On Mac McGee’s recommendation, the Smith Foundation made a grant to the University. The University placed the grant funds into an endowment to generate continued support for what is now the William and Madeline Welder Smith Travel Award.
Through the Smith Travel Award, the Briscoe Center for American History will assist masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students with costs associated with travel to Austin, Texas. The award is intended for students who need to conduct in-depth research in the holdings of the Briscoe Center and who reside outside of the Austin metropolitan area.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.