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Winifred J. Robinson papers


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

Winifred J. Robinson (1867-1962) served as the first dean of the Women’s College of the University of Delaware. During her twenty-four years of service to the University, Robinson’s commitment and dedication increased student enrollment, faculty participation, and the attendance of women students. Carol Hoffecker wrote about Dr. Robinson, “From the beginning in 1914 until she retired at the age of seventy in 1938, Winifred J. Robinson provided the vision and leadership that shaped the Women’s College.”

Born and raised in Barry County, Michigan, Robinson was the only child of Walter Joseph and Pamela Wheelock Robinson. Her early teaching experience, liberal education, research, and travel paved the way for her administrative work at the University of Delaware. She earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan in 1899, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She then worked at Vassar College, where she taught in the Botany Department. By 1904 Robinson had received an M.A. and by 1912 a Ph.D. in botany, both degrees from Columbia University. In 1913 she became Dean of Women at the University of Wisconsin’s Summer School. The combination of these experiences, as well as work as principal of secondary schools in Pennsylvania, prepared her for the administrative responsibilities at the University of Delaware where she spent the rest of her professional career.

After retirement Robinson was honored in 1940 when Science Hall was renamed Robinson Hall. In 1947 she documented her years on campus in the article “History of the Women’s College of the University of Delaware 1914-38,” which was published in the twentieth series of

Delaware Notes.

Winifred J. Robinson was twice elected president of the College Section of the National Association of Deans of Women. She also was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women. In her final years she lived in Winter Park, Florida, and Newfane Hill, Vermont.

Hoffecker, Carol E. Beneath Thy Guiding Hand: A History of Women at the University of Delaware. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1994. Munroe, John A. University of Delaware, a history. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1986. See also collection folder for copy of “Memorial Service in honor of Winifred Josephine Robinson,” Newark, Del.: Mitchell Hall, University of Delaware, January 14, 1962.

The Winifred J. Robinson Papers consists of a small group of eclectic material spanning the dates 1912-1949. The collection consists of ship’s plans, printed travel material, postcards, correspondence, greeting cards, books, ephemera, a baseball score card, and lantern slides.

The papers are smatterings of Robinson’s life during her career as an administrator and educator at Vassar College, University of Wisconsin, and University of Delaware. The collection consists of eighteen folders that are arranged in the following order: ship’s papers and travel information, greeting cards, calendars, postcards, baseball score card, miscellany, a letter, books, and lantern slides.

The travel papers are particularly significant because they relate to the University of Delaware’s nationally- recognized study abroad program. The idea for the Junior Year Abroad was launched at Delaware, and had much to do with the institution’s rise in national stature in the 1920s. Raymond Watson Kirkbride, a University professor who had studied in France, initiated this new program. In 1923 eight male students participated in the inaugural intensive study program, which was centered in Paris. The students spent two months with a French family before entering the University of Paris. During its second year, the program became coeducational. Encouraged by the American Council on Education, the program was opened to students from other institutions of higher learning in the United States in 1925. Dr. John Munroe wrote that “to Dean Robinson, who was not easy to please, the foreign study plan was the outstanding feature of the University.”

Dean Robinson accompanied the third group (1925-1926) of coeducational students from the University and other educational institutions throughout the country, and the travel ephemera in this collection dates from that trip. The material includes souvenirs (mostly in French) from concerts, meals, and other activities from July 4 to August 20, 1925. A copy of a six-page daily publication

l’Atlantique, dated August 17, 1925, was distributed on the S.S. Rochambeau. The newspaper, printed in English and French, featured articles and news, menu for that day’s dinner, current baseball scores, and advertisements. Oversize plans of the cabins on the steamship—two from the Rochambeau (M. Rollin, captain) and one from the S.S. Roussillon—show first-class to third-class accommodations. One of the plans of the Rochambeau, dated August 12, 1925, shows that Robinson shared a first-class cabin with Mrs. Inez Storey from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (F1). Other documents include an invitation for the students to attend an evening party on Thursday, November 19, 1925 at the Palais d’Orléans in Paris (F1).

The collection includes a group of ninety-one greeting cards from Christmas 1917-1949, most of which have great graphic and visual appeal. These cards are from colleagues and friends (Raymond Watson Kirkbride, F4), institutions (Balliot College, Oxford, F3), businesses (Western Union Telegraph Company, F6), and publications (

The Atlantic Monthly, F3). There are four cards with limited edition images of Paris, France, by “Yvon” (F7); one card printed at Arden, Delaware; and a card from the Star Publishing Company in Wilmington, Delaware. Three of the cards and envelopes, dated in the 1940s, are addressed to Robinson in Winter Park, Florida. (F6).

The papers also include a modest postcard collection (F10-F13) that features five from Robinson’s days at Vassar College at the turn of the century. One depicts the daisy- chain ceremony used at the Seven Sister Colleges (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, Barnard, and Wellesley).

The collection has an American Baseball Club booklet of the Yankees of New York for the 1936 season. The game was a double header, and was played at Yankee Stadium in New York. It contains a player roster (with many who were later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Fox, and Joe Cronin), scores for the two games against the Boston Red Sox, and many advertisements (F14).

Two books are included in this small group of Robinson’s papers, one of which is

The Power of Christian Benevolence Illustrated in The Life and Labors of Mary Lyon (1858). The book was a gift to Robinson, as explained in a letter from Francis A. Cooch, January 2, 1935, who told Robinson about the connection of Mary Lyon to the Cooches and to his wife’s family (F16).

Finally, the collection box includes thirty-six lantern slides. These undated slides, produced by the American Museum of Natural History, contain images of Yellowstone National Park. There are some pictures with plants, which reflects Robinson’s passion for botany. The slides are numbered and some have people (slide #89 has two male Cornell students) as part of the scene. Some of the slides are in black and white and others are in color (F18).

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartonsRemovals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Transfer from University of Delaware Archives, 1999.

Processed by Sally W. Donatello, June 2001. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2010 March 15
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Ships papers and Travel Ephemera, 1925.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Souvenirs from transatlantic trips for Delaware’s Junior Year Abroad Program; diagrams of the ships; a daily newspaper,

l’Atlantique; and invitation to the students for an evening party in Paris Physical Description

19 items

Miscellaneous Travel Booklets and Other Material, 1924-1925.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Includes a 1925 Thos. Cook & Son map of Paris, and an undated American Express travel brochure

Physical Description

6 items

Greeting Cards, circa 1921-1928.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Christmas and New Year’s cards, some signed; noted cards are from G. Cary Carter, Balliot College, Oxford, Christmas, 1925 with seal of college; and card from R.W. Kirkwood, one of her colleagues, in French. Also included is sachet in a sealed envelope with colored image of a basket and ribbons on front, 1922; some handmade cards; and a card from

The Atlantic Monthly, Christmas 1927-1928 Physical Description

21 items

Greeting cards, circa 1920s-1948.
Box 1 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Three of the cards and envelopes are addressed to Dean Robinson at 818 Antoinette Street, Winter Park, Florida; one card is from the Plimpton Scofield Company

Physical Description

23 items

Greeting cards, circa 1920s.
Box 1 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

One of the cards is signed “The Faculty,” and one unsigned card has thirty-one 1920 Easter seals laid inside

Physical Description

18 items

Greeting cards, 1917-1941.
Box 1 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Cards and postcards; includes a 1921 holiday greeting from the Star Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, and a 1917 Western Union Telegraph Company greeting

Physical Description

21 items

Greeting cards by “Yvon”.
Box 1 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Limited edition images of Paris, France

Physical Description

4 items

Calendars, 1929 and 1949.
Box 1 Folder F8
Scope and Contents

Small gift calendars

Physical Description

2 items

Envelope with dried flowers.
Box 1 Folder F9
Scope and Contents

Addressed to Robinson at the University of Delaware, return address from The Layyah Barakat Orphanage, Lebanon, Syria; contains dried flowers from Mt. Lebanon wrapped in a brown paper with a description that relates to a golden crown worn by the Savior; has a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania return address

Physical Description

1 item

Postcards, Vassar College, 1912.
Box 1 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

Four show buildings on campus and the last one shows the daisy-chain ceremony

Physical Description

5 items

Postcard, 1943 January 9.
Box 1 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

A message to Mr. Holden from Robinson with her return address in Winter Park, Florida. Signed, but apparently never mailed.

Postcards, undated.
Box 1 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Four images of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; others are images from other states

Physical Description

11 items

Postcards, undated.
Box 1 Folder F13
Scope and Contents

French images

Physical Description

3 items

Baseball Score Card, 1936.
Box 1 Folder F14
Scope and Contents

American League Baseball Club season score card for the Yankees of New York; Double header game was the Boston Red Sox v. New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium and played on June 30

Physical Description

1 item, 12 pp

Box 1 Folder F15
Physical Description

2 items

Cooch, Francis A, October 2 1935.
Box 1 Folder F16
Scope and Contents

Autograph Letter Signed. Letter explained that Cooch’s wife sent Robinson a copy of

The Power of Christian Benevolence Illustrated in The Life and Labors of Mary Lyon (1858). Mr. Cooch explained the connection between Lyon and the Cooch family as well as his wife’s family. Lyon (1797-1849) was the founder of Mount Holyoke Seminary, 1837. Physical Description

2 items

Smith, Erwin F. For Her Friends and Mine: A Book of Aspirations, Dreams, and Memories. Washington, D.C.: Press of Gibson Bros., Inc., 1915., 1919 January 7.
Box 1 Folder F17
Scope and Contents

Autographed by the author and sent to Robinson by him; dated January 7, 1919; inside inscription: “In memory of Charlotte May Buffett, sometime wife of Erwin F. Smith”; copy 289 out of 510

Lantern Slides.
Box 1 Folder F18
Scope and Contents

(3 1/4” h X 4” w) Most of the slides were prepared by American Museum of Natural History, Department of Public Instruction

Physical Description

36 glass slides

Print, Suggest