Dorothy Hope Smith was born in Hayattsville, MD and in the early 1910s, Dorothy's family relocated to Chicago, where she spent her adolescence. She studied illustration at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She met Perry Barlow there and they were married February 22, 1922 and honeymooned in France.
Her husband, Perry Barlow was a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, drawing 135 covers over the years in addition to many cartoons. He also contributed work to Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post and others. Because Perry was partially colorblind, his wife Dorothy helped with the color process of his work. Dorothy and Perry had 2 sons, Collins and Peter. Peter's child is Dorothy's only granddaughter. Dorrie carries her namesake, Dorothy "Dorrie" Barlow Thomas. After Dorothy's death in 1955, their son Peter continued the color treatments to Perry's work. They moved to New York after they wed to pursue separate illustration careers. Eventually, the couple worked out of their Westport, Connecticut home.
Fremont Canning Company, owned and operated by Frank Daniel Gerber and his son Daniel Frank Gerber, were looking for a baby face for its new baby-food campaign that was to start in the later part of 1928. To find a baby face that it believed would represent the new baby food best, the Fremont Canning Company conducted a contest in the summer of 1928.
Dorothy Hope Smith submitted an unfinished charcoal drawing that was closer to a simple sketch than a professional drawing. This five-month-old baby was drawn with tousled hair, bright blue eyes, and round pursed lips. Smith told the judges that, if the sketch was selected as the winner, she would finish it professionally. The drawing won; but, to her surprise, the judges wanted no changes to it.
In 1928, the "Gerber Baby" symbol was introduced to help identify the new product. It was first used in a baby-food advertisement in Good Housekeeping. Within sixty days, Gerber Strained Foods using the "Gerber Baby" symbol had gained national recognition and it was distributed to various places throughout the United States. It became internationally recognized.