James Fairbairn Smith – Editor of the Detroit Masonic World, B. Jan. 30, 1902 in Harwick, Roxburgshire, Scotland. Educated at schools in Harwick and Morpeth, England, taking special courses at Rutherford Technical College and the Royal Society of Arts, London.
He graduated from the National College of Music in 1923. Left Scotland in January, 1924 for Calgary, Alberta, but on arriving in Toronto, decided to visit Detroit, Mich., and remained to make it his home. For the next 12 years he taught music, becoming a director of the Redford Branch, Detroit Conservatory of Music, and an associate instructor of Detroit Foundation School. Helped found Brightmoor Musical Festival and also the Detroit Musician’s League.
Was raised as a “Lewis” at the age of 18 in the lodge at Harwick, Scotland. Exalted in King Cyrus Chapter No. 133, Detroit, in Nov. 1925, and high priest in 1934. Was grand high priest of Michigan in 1945. Greeted in Monroe Council No. 1, R.&S.M. in March, 1926 and knighted in Detroit Commandery No.1, K.T. in Nov., 1926. Received 32nd degree AASR (NJ) in 1934, and headed the Detroit Consistory in 1953-56; received the 33rd degree in 1946. Was a member of St. Clements Conclave No. 39, R.C.C.; Royal Order of Scotland; Philalethes Society; Moslem Shrine Temple; Royal Order of Jesters; Blue Friar;
A vast majority of the Museum and Library rare book collection came as a result of his generosity.
His publication, the Masonic World, came to define him as an author, speaker, and masonic scholar. It was the pre-eminant publication of its time. The Michigan Masonic Museum and Library has substantial holdings of the Masonic World and it pre-cursor the Masonic News. Future plans include scanning and digitizing the entire collection so it is fully searchable by patrons and researchers.