SMYTH, ANSON (1 Jan. 1812-2 May 1887), "the Father of the Cleveland Public Library" and an educator and Presbyterian minister, was born in Franklin, Pa., attended Milan Academy and Williams College, and after teaching a few years, graduated from Yale Theological Seminary.
Smyth's early pastorates included a home missionary assignment on the "frontier" of Michigan; and the Congregational Church of Toledo, where he became interested in the public schools, serving successively as superintendent of the Toledo public schools and state commissioner of the Common Schools of Ohio (1856-62). He was given broad powers to reform the school system, visited schools in every county of the state, and along with HARVEY RICE and other professional educators, worked on restructuring Ohio's public schools.
He came to Cleveland in 1863 to become superintendent of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS (1863-66), emphasizing strict classification by age and ability which led to overcrowding in some grades and many objections, but also led to the creation of 10 new primary and secondary schools within 2 years. Smyth declined reelection in 1866.
In 1867, Smyth was the key figure in creating the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY. Largely through his efforts, the legislature passed an act authorizing the support of libraries through taxation. In 1872 he became pastor at NORTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, remaining until the loss of his voice forced his retirement.
Smyth and his wife, Caroline, had 3 children: George, William, and Sarah. He died in Cleveland and was buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY.