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Shirley Smith's Letter to the Editor

Boston Traveler, Wednesday, July 19, 1944



People’s Editor:

    This is about Bill Sidis who died Monday. His numerous friends do not like the false newspaper picture of him, as a pauper and anti-social recluse. Bill Sidis held a clerical position until two weeks ago. For two weeks he had received unemployment compensation, the first time in his life. Today he was to start on a new job for which he had already been hired. Bill Sidis paid his way; he was no burden on society.

      Sidis had plenty of loyal friends. All of them found his ideas stimulating and his personality likable. Very few people know as much about the Indian background of our social customs as he. His manuscript study of it is worthy textbook material and very readable. He knew dozens of stories from Boston's history and told them with relish. He recently submitted a plan for post-war Boston.

      But William Sidis had one great cause―the right of an individual in this country to follow his chosen way of life. He had never been able to do this for himself, first because his father made him a guinea pig for psychological theories; then because the public, through newspaper articles, insisted that he was a “genius,” abnormal and erratic.

     Whenever Sidis saw interference, by individuals or governments, with anyone’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, he fought it in any way he could. He won a long legal fight against a nationally known publication on the ground that it had invaded his privacy.

    Bill Sidis was a quiet man who enjoyed the normal things of life. His friends respected him and enjoyed his company. I am glad to have been one of his friends.

Wellesley Hills




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