Guide to the Hattie Aiken Robinson Family Correspondence

MSN/MN 5017


Collection Summary

Title: Hattie Aiken Robinson family correspondence
Dates: 1934-1936
Collection No.: MSN/MN 5017
Creator: Robinson, Hattie Aiken (b. ca. 1887-90)
Creator: Robinson, Eva Vashti (b. ca. 1915)
Creator: Robinson, Lloyd C. (b. ca. 1912)
Extent: 33 items; 1 container; .25 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A group of 33 letters recording the personal affairs of a Depression-era African-American family. The letters are directed to Mrs. Hattie Aiken Robinson of Texarkana, Arkansas, by family members in Arkansas, St. Louis, and Chicago.

Selected Search Terms

Arkansas -- Social conditions
African Americans -- History -- Sources
African Americans -- Migrations
African Americans -- Social life--1930-1940

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Hattie Aiken Robinson Family Correspondence, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Hattie Aiken Robinson Family Correspondence was acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in December 2010, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia (List No. 111, item 4). Arranged and described 2012, by Mairead O'Malley. Finding aid 2012, by Mairead O'Malley and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

The recipient of the letters in this collection, an African-American woman named Hattie Aiken Robinson, was born ca. 1887-1890 in Bossier Parish in northwest Louisiana. She was the daughter of William and Nancy Aiken, both of whom were born in the Antebellum period, most likely as bondsmen. According to the 1910 Federal census the couple had 15 children over the course of their marriage, ten of whom were then living. The same census identifies William Aiken as a farmer, working his own land (near Plain Dealing in Bossier Parish). Hattie Aiken, then in her early 20s and living on the family farm, is identified as a laundress. Shortly thereafter Hattie married Cleveland C. Robinson (b. 1884); by the late 'teens the couple was living in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas, with a son (Lloyd, b. ca. 1912) and a daughter (Eva Vashti, b. ca. 1915). Cleveland Robinson was employed by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, as porter, brakeman, and perhaps in other capacities. At some point, probably before 1930, Cleveland separated from the family in Texarkana, for reasons which are alluded to (but can scarcely be confirmed by) the letters. In 1934 he was living in St. Louis. By 1935 the two children had also left Texarkana. Eva Robinson attended college in Houston prior to beginning work as an elementary school teacher, first in the small town of Tollette in Howard County, Arkansas (Spring 1936) and subsequently in the larger town of Osceola, across the state in Mississippi County. In 1935 Lloyd Robinson followed the Great Migration north to Chicago, settling on the city's South Side and marrying an Arkansas woman named Bernice. At the end of 1936 Hattie Robinson was still in Texarkana.

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes 33 items, primarily personal letters directed to Hattie Robinson by family members. The main correspondents are Hattie's estranged husband Clarence (2 letters, March-October 1935); her son Lloyd and Lloyd's wife, Bernice (9 letters, 6 February-12 November 1936); and her daughter Eva (19 letters, 31 January-13 December 1936). The letters were occasioned by the Robinson children's recent departure from the area around Texarkana, where the family had lived for several generations.

Arrangement Note

The collection consists of one series; materials are arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Container List