(Dec. 28, 1861-Aug. 25, 1922). Delavan Smith was born in Cincinnati to William Henry and Emeline (Reynolds) Smith. Educated at Lake Forest College in Illinois and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Delavan joined his father in the management of the Western Press Association.

His 30-year affiliation with the Indianapolis News began in 1892 when his father became part-owner of the paper. Delavan assisted his father with the News until 1896 when he inherited his father’s interest. In 1911, he became the paper’s sole owner. Although he sold a three-fourths interest to his cousin Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks in 1917, Delavan continued as owner and publisher until his death in 1922. The paper reflected his views as an “independent Republican,” loyal only so long as the party lived up to his publishing motto: “The greatest good for the greatest number.”

Smith also had several business interests. He held stock in the Merganthaler Corporation, a linotype system cofounded by his father. He served as vice president of the Oliver Typewriter Company and president of the Cox Multi-Mailer Company, which manufactured newspaper bundling machines.

Smith bequeathed several million dollars to charitable organizations including the Indianapolis Foundation, Methodist Hospital, the Art Association Of Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis Flower Mission. He left the Indiana Historical Society $150,000 (equal to $2.3 million in 2020) and a large collection of rare books to honor his father, William Henry Smith, founder of the Associated Press. It formed the core of the Society’s William Henry Smith Memorial Library, which continues to collect material on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest.

Revised March 2021

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