Susie Smith

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Portrait photograph of Susie Smith, taken by Rufus W. Holsinger in 1919. Reproduced from the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project.

Susie Smith (March 6, 1891 – January 23, 1961) was a Black citizen of Charlottesville during the early twentieth century whose portrait photographs forms a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection.


Smith was born in Albemarle County on March 6, 1891 to Ferrell and Annie Lee Smith. She grew up in Stony Point alongside her 12 siblings and attended school, being able to read and write.

In 1910, Smith was listed as living at 303 High Street, which sat on the border of a large racially restricted neighborhood just north of the downtown area and across the street from McKee Row. The house was owned by Robert P. Valentine, the president of the Woolen Mills Company at the time.[1]

Around the age of 19, Smith began working as a chamber maid for the Valentine family in Charlottesville. On April 30, 1912 she was married to Maryland Brown (upon which she changed her own last name to Brown) and lived with him on Fifteenth Street in Charlottesville, where she worked as a private cook for a local family.

On January 6, 1919, Smith had her portrait photograph taken by Rufus W. Holsinger, with this picture later forming a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection.

Smith was left widowed upon the death of Maryland in 1942. On April 8, 1950, she remarried to Dudley Perry, upon which she changed her own last name to Perry. It is likely that Smith and Dudley had grown up together, as both of their families lived on Stony Point Road during the same time frame. Together they worked domestically at 123 Mason's Street in Charlottesville.

Smith died of a heart attack in Albemarle County on January 23, 1961. She was buried in a family cemetery in Eastham, Virginia and had her funeral service at the J.F. Bell Funeral Home in Charlottesville.[2]


  1. Web. Picture Me As I Am: Mirror and Memory in the Age of Black Resistance, The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  2. Web. Susie Smith, Holsinger Studio Portrait Project