Abdullahi Smith was born Henry Fredrick Charles Smith on 5th May 1920 at Somerset, England. After Army service in India during the Second World War, he went to the University of Cambridge for his first degree. On completing his University education, he joined the education service in the Sudan. In 1955 he was recruited by the Department of History, University College, Ibadan, where along with Professor K. O. Dike they developed the teaching of African History in the University. He was a founding member of the Historical Society of Nigeria in 1955. He had served as its Honorary Secretary from 1956-1969. In 1962 he moved over to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, to establish the Department of History. He developed the Zaria School of History, which became well known in Nigeria. In 1970-1980 he moved over to Kaduna to establish the Centre for Documentation and Historical Studies, popularly known as Arewa House, ABU, Kaduna. He had supervised 19 PhD and 3 MA Theses in the period 1960-1980; indeed he supervised the first PhD thesis of Ahmadu Bello University by Saad Abubakar in 1970. He converted to Islam when he was Director of Arewa House. He died in 1984.