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W. Eugene and Aileen M. Smith collection

Identifier: c-00614

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: circa 1975


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

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)


0.1 Cubic Feet (, 8 photographs)

Language of Materials


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

Legal Status

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


W. Eugene and Aileen M. Smith Collection
4 Published And Cataloged
K. Grimm
February 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US