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Among Friends


The Robinson Collection of Athletics was presented to the Library and the University in 1943, and dedicated in honor of Edward North Robinson, Class of 1896 and former coach of the Brown football team. The Collection consisted of books on athletics, photographs and souvenirs.

Now 57 years later, Jackson W. "Jack" Robinson ═64, grandson of Edward, has generously endowed the collection. President of an environmental investment firm in Boston, Jack dropped into the library several years ago and talked to Martha Mitchell. When he saw how limited the resources were to expand the collection or give it the attention it deserved, he vowed to do something.

There are probably only a handful of people who even know about the Robinson Collection and the related items housed in the John Hay Library. A few trophies, plaques and winning baseballs are displayed in cases at the Pizzitola Sports Center but the University═s collection is much more substantial. It includes:

  • Photographs: team pictures and action shots.

  • Athletic uniforms and game balls.

  • Statistics pertaining to the football, hockey, golf, fencing, track and lacrosse teams.

  • Information on the early participation in sports by women students (which probably includes a picture of my mother, Helen Baldwin, class of ═32, displaying her archery skills).

  • You can even view a video, which includes a compilation of game films from the 1930═s on.
But now many more people will know about this collection. The new funds from Jack Robinson will make possible a number of initiatives:
  • Securing the services of a person with filming/digitizing experience and appropriate knowledge.

  • Creation of a sports history web page linked to appropriate University and Library home pages.

  • Compilation of publications relating to Brown sports history.

  • Contracting out for specialized forms of preservation that are beyond the capabilities and resources of the Library, e.g. restoration of sports memorabilia, deacidification of fragile paper-based sports materials.
Thanks to Jack Robinson and his grandfather, generations to come will be able to learn how Brown═s football team went from the first Rose Bowl in 1916 to an Ivy League championship in 1999, and how my mother learned to shoot a bow and arrow on the Pembroke campus.

Jack Robinson told me that he hopes his gift will foster a "long-term partnership between the athletic program and the library." The athletic center may be at the opposite end of the campus from the library complex, but both institutions play a very critical role in the entire Brown experience.

Fraser Lang. Chair, Friends of the Library of Brown University

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