Allan Smith was a native of Hancock County, Illinois, where he was born in 1902. He received an A.B. degree in 1927 from Illinois Wesleyan University. While doing graduate work at the University of Illinois, he worked as experiment station publications editor. He received his doctorate in English language and literature in 1939.
He joined the University of Kentucky staff in 1941 as experiment station and extension service publications editor.
In 1942, he became the first head of the Department of Public Information and Educational Aids and served in this position until 1967, when he retired.
After retiring, he wrote a history of the College of Agriculture. He died in February 1983 at the age of 81.