Daniel Scott Smith, one of the most accomplished quantitative historians of his generation, died in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 5, 2011, after a long illness. An exceptionally original thinker, he offered an alternative way for historians to conceptualize and practice their craft, one that drew on the methods of the social sciences, particularly demography, but also respected the historian’s interest in change over time.
Born in 1942 to Charles E. and Mildred McCloud Smith in Galesburg, Illinois, Smith grew up in Florida. He claimed an early interest in the numerical, spending time tracking things like baseball statistics. In 1963, after graduating with high honors from the University of Florida, he took a Greyhound bus west to continue his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving the M.A. in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1973. He then completed a certificate in historical demography at Princeton University in 1974. His doctoral dissertation used the town of Hingham, Massachusetts, to investigate the many changes in population, family, and social structure that took place in North America between 1635 and 1880.