Scope and arrangement
Correspondence, 1911-1953, some undated, consists primarily of letters and postcards received by Robbins, in English, with some in Russian and a few in French. A few drafts of Robbins' letters are included. Letters post-dating his death are addressed to his widow, Constance. Correspondence concerns literary, theatrical, and translating work, and personal matters. Some Ferrer Colony matters are also discussed. Letters are from literary and theatrical colleagues; magazine editors; book publishers; authors' representatives; friends; and family members. Frequent or prominent correspondents include: Leonard D. Abbott, Scholom Asch(authorizing Robbins to sell five of his one-act plays, 1915), William Rose Benet, Richard Boleslavsky,H.W.L. Dana, Ossip Dymow, Frances M. Gill, B.W. Huebsch, Alexander Koiransky, Maxim Lieber,David Liebovitz,Edwin Markham,Ralph R. (“Wad”) Perry,Constantin Stanislavsky, Lewis Untermeyer,Abraham Yarmolinsky,Stark Young,Marya Zaturenska,others.
Also included are programs and other printed material from theaters with which Robbins was affiliated; theater mailing lists; statements and legal documents relating to various theater projects; stage design sketches. Personal material includes: portrait photographs of Robbins and of Bertha Robbins,his mother; a portrait sketch of Robbins; minutes of an investigation, 1927, probably at the Jewish Colony, Chatham, N.J.; letters and documents, in Yiddish, of Robbins' father, Shmolovitch Rabinovitch; and a document, 1893, in Russian, certifying that Daba Shliomovna Rabinovitchof Minsk Province is Jewish. The document is signed by a rabbi, and was part of an application for higher education.
Robbins' writings, both original writings and English translations, make up the bulk of the collection. They include manuscripts and typescripts of Robbins' articles, plays, poems, stories, and parts of novels, in English, ca. 1910s-1940s. Articles are on literary, theatrical, and musical topics, and include Robbins' impressions of Chaim Soudeikine and Constantin Stanislavsky. Plays, A Breath of Life, and Children Never Forget, were written in collaboration with Stanley Lewis and Z. Libin, respectively. Robbins' English translations of stories, plays, poetry, essays, and other writings are chiefly from Yiddish and Russian. Authors translated include: Scholom Asch, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Alexander Blok, Boris Baykoff, Mikhail Bulgakov,Ossip Dymow,Ilya Ehrenberg,Viacheslav Ivanov,Vsevolod Ivanov,Jehoash (pseud.),I.A. Krylov, Simeon Frug,I.L. Peretz,Mikhail Prishvin,V.I. Shishkov,M. Volkov,Maximilian Voleshin,and Panteleimon Romanov. Of note are manuscript and typescript versions of Robbins' translation of the complete poems of the Yiddish poet Abraham Liessinin three volumes (the third is incomplete).
Unidentified writings in Yiddish and Russian; typescript excerpts, in Russian, of My Life in Art; and unsigned writings and writings by other authors (Sandro Corona, Alexander Koiransky, others) are included.
The J.J. Robbins papers are arranged in three series:
- 1893-ca. 1940s