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Archive director Tom Blanton thanks the board of the Arca Foundation, inside the Smith Bagley Research Center reading room on December 9.  (Photo: Anya Melyakova)


Renovated space hosts hundreds in Gelman Library for Archive's 25th anniversary celebration

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Thomas Blanton - 202/994-7000

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Washington, DC, December 9, 2010 - Friends and family of the late Smith Bagley joined the National Security Archive staff and board on December 9 to dedicate and celebrate the new Smith Bagley Research Center in the Archive’s renovated Gelman Library offices.

The noted philanthropist, entrepreneur, and activist had long supported the Archive’s work to open government files at home and abroad, dating back to the organization’s founding in 1985.  After his untimely death in January 2010, the Arca Foundation (which Mr. Bagley had served for more than two decades as president) made a major grant to the Archive to establish the Bagley Center in his memory.

The renovated space includes a new reading room for outside researchers, an expanded reception area, the Archive’s first formal conference room for large meetings, new vault space for declassified document storage, and walls of glass symbolizing Smith’s and the Archive’s commitment to transparency.

The opening brought together several hundred friends of the Archive, the board of the Arca Foundation, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists and scholars, members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and Archive colleagues at the George Washington University – celebrating Smith’s life and the 25th anniversary year of the National Security Archive. 

In brief remarks, Arca Foundation president Nancy Bagley  praised the work of the Archive and her father’s long-standing commitment to open government; Archive director Tom Blanton recalled Smith’s last site visit to the Archive, fitting his tall frame around the piles of boxes and "likely OSHA violations" in the old space; and George Washington University librarian Jack Siggins described the University’s pride in the Archive’s new offices and the entire 7th floor of Gelman Library – which features the new International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Labor History Research Center, the Global Resources Center, the Kiev Judaica Collection, and Gelman’s own Special Collections reading room.


Smith Bagley
April 1, 1935 to January 2, 2010
Philanthropist.  Entrepreneur.  Activist.

Dedicated by the Arca Foundation in
memory of his commitment to inquiry,
transparency and speaking truth to power.



About Smith Bagley

Smith Bagley, philanthropist, entrepreneur and political activist, was present at the creation of the National Security Archive in 1985 with one of the earliest grants that launched the Archive’s unique award-winning combination of investigative journalism, foreign policy research, Freedom of Information activism, and documentary publishing.

As the president of the Arca Foundation, Smith remained a staunch supporter of the Archive’s work over 25 years, remarked on the Archive as one of his favorite grantees, personally conducted many of Arca’s site visits in our offices as part of the grantmaking process, and constantly prodded us towards greater success.

Smith Bagley devoted most of his life to philanthropy and supporting social change.  As president of the Arca Foundation and founder of the Brenn Foundation in Washington, DC, he focused on public policy issues such as social justice, human rights, civic engagement and the environment.  He was a longstanding board member of the Sapelo Island Research Foundation in Brunswick, Georgia and a life trustee and board member for the last 50 years of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in North Carolina.  He was a founding member of Cities and Schools, the precursor of Communities in Schools, as well as a former Member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Mr. Bagley served as the Chairman of the Board of Regents of the Catholic University of America and founded the first annual American Cardinals Dinner, which is now an annual event.  He was presented with the University’s highest honor, the President’s Medal, and he holds the title of Chairman Emeritus.

Among his many business interests, Mr. Bagley was the CEO of SBI, a cellular enterprise he founded in 1989. It is based in Arizona with operations in northeastern Arizona and western New Mexico and Colorado.

Besides his family, friends and Catholic faith, his passion in life was helping the economically disadvantaged, both in the United States and in the developing world.  Bagley felt these values were best realized in the Democratic Party, which he joined at the age of 17. This passion and commitment led him to run for Congress from North Carolina in the late 1960’s and to serve as National Finance Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee and a delegate to numerous Democratic National Conventions.

He and his wife, Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, frequently opened their homes in Georgetown and Nantucket for policy dinners and fundraisers on behalf of Democratic Presidential and Senatorial candidates including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Barack Obama. Musgrove, his secluded 1,400-acre estate in St. Simons Island, Georgia, was the site of President Carter’s first pre-inaugural Cabinet meeting and continues to serve as a regular retreat for policy-makers, innovative thinkers and progressive activists from around the world. 

His sudden passing on January 2, 2010, brought messages of support and condolence from prominent Democrats including President William Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said, “In politics and philanthropy, Smith Bagley was one of the most generous people we ever met. He was also a great husband, father and friend. All of us who knew him were enriched by his life.”

Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), the former director of the Arca Foundation, remarked, “I most admired Smith because he lived in declaratory sentences—straightforward, honest and open.  Whether in politics, philanthropy or life, Smith was my mentor.  He taught me to think big and without conventional boundaries.  He taught me to take risks.”

Smith Bagley was born April 1, 1935 in New York City. He graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and served his country as a Captain in the United States Army Reserves.  Bagley was the son of the late Nancy Susan Reynolds and Henry Walker Bagley of Quarry Farms, Greenwich, CT.  He was the grandson of the late Richard Joshua Reynolds, the founder of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Smith’s survivors include his wife of 26 years, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, and six children: Walker Bagley of Lexington, KY, Nancy Reynolds Bagley of Washington, Nicole Ladmer Bagley of Washington, D.C., Brett Dylan Bagley of New York City, Vaughan Elizabeth Bagley and Conor Reynolds Bagley of Washington, D.C.; five grandchildren: Beau and Taylor Bagley, Dylan and Ella Walker, and Camron Shehabi; and, a sister, Susan Bagley Bloom of Vancouver, Canada.  Smith’s daughters Nancy and Nicole succeeded him as president of the Arca and Brenn Foundations, respectively.


The board and staff of the Arca Foundation, with the portrait of Smith Bagley in the new Center.  From left to right:  Archive director Tom Blanton, Janet Shenk, Michael Trister, Mary King, Anna Lefer Kuhn, Nancy Bagley, Becca Friedman, Nicole Bagley, Mike Lux, Joe Eldridge.  The photographer at lower left is Brett Bagley.  (Photo: Anya Melyakova)
Arca Foundation president Nancy Bagley, Archive director Tom Blanton, and George Washington University librarian Jack Siggins
Archive staff and friends in the new conference room.
Dedication remarks for the Bagley Center in the new conference room, with renowned conceptual artist Jenny Holzer’s “We’re At War Turquoise” on the wall.

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