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Winifred J. Robinson papers

Identifier: MSS 0413

Scope and Content Note

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).


  • Creation: 1912-1949


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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,

Biographical Note

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.


.6 linear foot

1 oversize box


Winifred J. Robinson (1867-1962) served as the first dean of the Women’s College of the University of Delaware. The Winifred J. Robinson Papers consists of a small group of eclectic material spanning the dates 1912-1949.


Transfer from University of Delaware Archives, 1999.

Shelving Summary

  • Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
  • Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)


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

Finding aid for the Winifred J. Robinson papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 15
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA