It was a happy day for me when I stumbled upon Yvonne Perkins’ website and emailed her to see if she might be interested in helping me uncover the elusive story of Australian-born philanthropist Stanley Smith and his wife May Wong Smith. I had been hired to research and write a book about the publicity-shy couple and was getting nowhere in my search for anything of substance about their lives. It was an even happier day for me when I downloaded Yvonne’s email response, telling me she was game to help with the project.
Yvonne Perkins was a key member of the international team of historians and writers I then recruited to research and write a book about a Brisbane-born philanthropist. Once Yvonne was on the job, we quickly began to make progress and were able to uncover a surprising amount of information. I honestly can say that without Yvonne’s contributions and encouragement, I would not have been able to have complete the book about the Smiths.
Yvonne is a tenacious, resourceful researcher, an astute historian, and a lively, skilful writer. It was an absolute pleasure working with her.
Susan Milstein, Personal History Productions
Finding the Smiths
The little-known story of Australian business man, Stanley Smith, and his Chinese wife, May, is a fascinating story of war, espionage and business during the first half of the volatile twentieth century. This history was revealed by a multi-national team of researchers based in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
During World War II Stanley Smith and May Wong were involved in espionage for the British forces in East Asia. After the war, Stanley Smith took advantage of many business opportunities in East Asia with his friend, John Galvin. Stanley and May Smith lived very quiet lives and avoided publicity making the historians’ task researching them quite difficult.
Yvonne Perkins was involved from the start of the project. Her initial research helped to prove that this project was not only feasible but could lead to a fascinating book. Australian archives contain a large quantity of material about people with the surname Smith. Yvonne Perkins carefully sifted through this material to piece together more about Stanley Smith’s upbringing in early twentieth century Brisbane.
Read more about this intriguing project:
- Download your free copy of No Substitute for Kindness from the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust
- Find out more about the book and Yvonne’s contribution on Yvonne’s blog, Stumbling Through the Past.
Skills and Experience Used on the Project
Yvonne Perkins drew on the following skills and experience on this project:
- Australian education history
- Early 20th century history of Brisbane
- Archival research in Queensland and New South Wales
- Collaborating with researchers in an international research project