Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Charles Mulford Robinson was a journalist, author, and pioneer of city planning in the United States. Born April 30, 1869 at Ramapo, New York, Robinson was the son of Arthur and Jane Howell (nee Porter) Robinson. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Rochester, where he received his education and obtained a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1891. From 1891 to 1902, he worked as the editor of the Rochester Post-Express, the Philadelphia Ledger, and the New York Municipal Journal, as well as serving as contributing editor to several other publications. In 1899, he wrote a series of three articles on municipal improvement in the Atlantic Monthly which led to an invitation from Harper's to prepare a similar series on urban development in Europe. Following this experience, he published a number of books and reports on civic art and town improvement. In 1913, he was appointed the first Professor of Civic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a position he held until his death on December 30, 1917.
The collection contains an assortment of documents collected and saved by American city planner, professor, and author Charles Mulford Robinson and his wife Eliza Ten Eyck Pruyn Robinson between 1880 and 1934.
The first series, Civic advising, documents, to a limited degree, Robinson's career as a city advisor. This material comprises several reports suggesting municipal improvements which Robinson delivered to various communities in his capacity as a civic advisor, as well as newspaper articles and related articles. Cites include Freeport, Illinois; Greensboro, North Carolina; Hannibal, Missouri; and Syracuse, New York. This series also documents, through letters and newspaper clippings, the controversy over George Eastman's plan to construct a series of tenements in Rochester, which was opposed by Robinson and other members of the community.
The second and third series contain correspondence addressed to Robinson and his wife. Robinson's correspondence, which dates between 1889 and 1917, reveals acquaintanceship with a number of big names in the Progressive and City Beautiful movements, including author and economist Richard T. Ely, and labor leader Samuel Gompers. The bulk of the material documents clubs which Robinson was invited to visit. The correspondence of Eliza Robinson, Charles Mulford Robinson's wife, is largely personal preceding Robinson's death in 1917, and includes notes from her parents, Augustus and Catilina Pruyn, her husband, and one from John C. Olmsted. Following Robinson's death, however, the bulk of her correspondence discusses her donation of her late husband's professional library to Harvard University in 1921. Both sets of correspondence are arranged chronologically.
The fourth series, Newspaper clippings, contains a great number of newspaper articles about Robinson from 1898 to 1926, including those about Robinson's visits and civic advice to Denver and Honolulu, his death in 1917, and the dedication of several memorials to him in the ensuing years. Researchers interested in published accounts about Robinson should be aware that many of the scrapbooks (located in Series VII) also contain newspapers clippings that were arranged by Robinson, himself.
Like many 19th century gentlemen, Robinson wrote and published several works. Series V. Poetry and prose, written by Charles Mulford Robinson contains a number of poems, hymns, and prose pieces written by Robinson, as well as several poetry collections and two plays Robinson co-authored. Many of the items in this series are handwritten, and it is unclear how many of them were published. However, there are a few items that were printed and were clearly published, although the publication is frequently unknown.
Although it appears that Robinson's professional library was donated to Harvard in 1921, this collection contains a small number of books and pamphlets owned by him and his wife. The items are arranged alphabetically by title of work. Robinson also compiled a number of scrapbooks, one of which documents his wedding and includes lists of telegrams received, newspaper notices, and the invitation.
The final series, Family and personal papers, includes some family papers, but the bulk the material is a largely miscellaneous group of Robinson's personal papers. The family material includes forms excusing Robinson's father from service in the Civil War and an address given by his grandfather to the Hartford County (Connecticut) Agricultural Society in 1830. There are also a number of photographs, primarily featuring buildings, individuals, and one family portrait of Robinson, his wife, and several others. The miscellaneous personal records include collected autographs and books plates, Robinson's personal stamp, a few financial records, his 1891 passport, and records from a club headed by Robinson.
Highlights include his advising reports to several communities and a number of his creative works. The collection overall provides a broad view into the life of Charles Mulford Robinson and his wife, and attests to their character. It will be of interest to historians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States and urban planning, and biographers interested in one of America's first native world-recognized urban planners.
Gift of Benjamin Solganick, 1962.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Kevin Stuart Lee
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 August 18
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.