Q: When is a desk more than a desk? A: Read on . . .
In 1877, a group of Dartmouth undergraduates presented the retiring College president the Reverend Asa Dodge Smith, an 1830 graduate of Dartmouth with a special gift: a "Wooten cabinet secretary," a fancy name for a very fancy desk. With its "110 compartments, all under one lock and key," the desk created a system in which "order can be obtained, confusion avoided, time saved, vexation spared," as a Wooten Desk Company advertisement put it.
President Smith passed the desk onto his son, Dr. William Thayer Smith, DMS 1879 and dean of the Medical School from 1896 to 1909. Dean Smith, in turn, gave the desk to his son, Thayer Adams Smith, DC 1910. Even though Thayer Smith's children included five DC grads, one DMS grad, and three doctors, when he died in 1973 his children decided the desk should go back to Dartmouth. Today, the elaborate "cabinet secretary" is on display in a central hallway of the DMS dean's office, for all to enjoy.
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