W. Eugene & Aileen M. Smith Collection

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Smith, Aileen Mioko
Smith, W. Eugene, 1918-1978
W. Eugene and Aileen M. Smith collection
circa 1975
1.0 Cubic feet , 8 photographs

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan".

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Biographical Note

William Eugene Smith (December 30, 1918–October 15, 1978), was an American photojournalist known for his refusal to compromise professional standards and his brutally vivid World War II photographs. In January 1972, Smith was attacked by employees of the Chisso Company near Tokyo, in an attempt to stop him from further publicizing the effects of Minamata disease to the world. Although Smith survived the attack, his sight in one eye deteriorated. During the time Smith was not able to work due to his injuries, his wife of Japanese origin, Aileen M. Smith, continued his work. Smith and his wife lived in the city of Minamata from 1971 to 1973, and created a photo essay detailing the effects of the poison induced disease, caused by a Chisso factory discharging heavy metals into water sources around Minamata. (Information retrieved March 13, 2014 from Wikipedia)

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Scope and Contents note

The W. Eugene & Aileen M. Smith collection contains eight photographs highlighting mercury disease in humans and fish. The photos were produced for their book, "Minamata: Life Sacred and Profane" in 1975.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections February 2010

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: W. Eugene Smith and Aileen Mioko Smith and cannot be reproduced. Property Rights: Michigan State University

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Immediate Source of Acquisiton

The photographs were transferred by Frank M. D'Itri to the Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections.

Accession: HC 00549 Date: November, 1983

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Photographs

Personal Name(s)

  • D’Itri, Frank M.


  • Fishes -- Effect of water pollution on
  • Mercury -- Toxicology
  • Mercury wastes

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Collection Inventory


Photographs (8) 

SC Photo 7