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A Pioneer Archivist and Community Leader

“I think I was drawn or directed, possibly early on, to doing things that were not just about me,” says Virginia “Ginger” Hicks Smith 77C 82G who has spent her life giving back in extraordinary ways.

By Elizabeth Cobb Durel

Ginger Smith

Virginia "Ginger" Hicks Smith 77C 82G

Virginia “Ginger” Hicks Smith 77C 82G has been an integral part of Emory for more than four decades. After thirteen years attending a small girls’ school in Memphis, Smith was ready for something a bit bigger. Following in her older sister’s footsteps, Smith arrived on campus in the fall of 1973. She graduated four years later, accepted a job in the library, and never left. Though now retired, Smith is still a vital part of the Emory community in a variety of ways. While she spent her 38-year award-winning career at Emory, including serving as the inaugural university archivist, a pioneer of a records preservation system, and community leader, Smith’s generosity of heart and influence has reached far across campus and beyond.

Smith, a lifelong volunteer, says her first experience was for UNICEF as a child. “We’d take our little box around at Halloween and ask the neighbors to put dimes in our box along with candy in our bag,” says Smith adding that it was a two-fold mission, no either or. “I think I was drawn or directed, possibly early on, to doing things that were not just about me,” says Smith who has spent her life giving back in extraordinary ways.

In the years since, the volunteerism that began with a UNICEF box at Halloween has earned Smith well-deserved accolades including, Delta Delta Delta's Woman of the Year and namesake of Ginger Hicks Smith Museum and Archives at the sorority's international headquarters, The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council, Emory’s Community Builder Award and Fraternal Chapter Adviser of the Year Award. She’s served as a community leader at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church for many years and was instrumental in facilitating Emory’s participation in the Decatur Book Festival. And Smith is currently the class agent for St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, connecting and fundraising, and of course still breaking records.