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James Herman Robinson papers

Identifier: 314

Scope and Contents

The papers document the public career of James Herman Robinson, an African American Presbyterian clergyman, who achieved world recognition for his work in New York’s Harlem and his accomplishments in founding Operation Crossroads Africa, which served as one of the models for the Peace Corps.  The papers encompass 21.6 linear feet of correspondence, writings, reports, publications, lists, financial statements, minutes, schedules and agendas, press releases, newspaper clippings, photographs, honors and awards, programs, invitations, announcements, and miscellaneous collected items.  The main strengths are the correspondence by participants in Operations Crossroads Africa and the Peace Corps, the records created by the colleagues working with Dr. Robinson, and his writings.

The papers span over almost forty years and highlight his work as a New York City Presbyterian minister, the Director of the Morningside Community Center, the founder of Operations Crossroads Africa, a former vice president of the Peace Corps, an advisor to the State Department, an author, a lecturer, a world traveler, and an adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson on African and Youth Affairs.  The papers are a valuable resource for the topics of African American clergy, Community Development, Operations Crossroads Africa, and the Peace Corps.

Correspondence is varied and includes letters to and from family members, educators, actors, congressmen, ambassadors, prime ministers, governors, presidents, archbishops and bishops, pastors, priests, missionaries, college students, and hometown friends. A major portion of the correspondence is with high officials of both the United States and African governments, as well as with representatives of the Presbyterian Church from throughout the world concerning the work of Operation Crossroads Africa. Main correspondents include Eugene Carson Blake, Chester H. Bowles, Kyoji Buma, Lincoln Maynard Catchings, William Sloane Coffin, William Orviklle Douglas, President Eisenhower, Harry Emerson Fosdick, President Johnson, President Kennedy, Jomo Kenyatta, Bill Myers, James Albert Pike, Robert Sargent Shriver, Jack Hood Vaughn, and G. Mennen Williams.

The papers include manuscript copies of his writings: published and unpublished articles, books, speeches, and sermons.  There are also newspaper clippings and other published items about Robinson and his activities and projects.  The publications collected in the Robinson papers are representative of his interests in education, Christianity, government, and Africa.  The papers also includes annual reports of Operations Crossroads Africa, as well as a combination of annual, monthly, and oftentimes weekly reports of the Church of Master, Morningside Community Center, the Church of the Covenant, and the Peace Corps.


  • Created: 1935-1973
  • Other: Date acquired: 12/01/1974


Conditions Governing Access

The James Herman Robinson papers are open and available for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.


21.60 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The James Herman Robinson papers are arranged into eight series of correspondence (1935-1972), financial records and other materials (1953-1973), minutes and lists (1949-1972), schedules and agendas (1951-1970), writings (1950-1971), collected publications and printed items (1954-1972), reports (1951-1972), news clippings and oversize materials (1935-1973).

Source of Acquisition

Gertrude Cotter Robinson

Method of Acquisition


Appraisal Information

The James Herman Robinson papers document his work as Presbyterian minister, founder of Operation Crossroads Africa, and advisor to the Peace Corps and the State Department, as well as an advisor to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on Africa and Youth affairs.

Accruals and Additions

An addition to the James Herman Robinson papers was received in 1980.

Related Materials

The Amistad Research Center holds the organizational records of Operation Crossroads Africa, which was founded by James Herman Robinson.

The Charlotte and David Brown papers are also held by the Amistad Research Center.  Charlotte and David Brown were medical doctors who worked on medical projects in Africa, especially in Sierra Leone, through Operation Crossroads Africa.

The Amistad Research Center also holds the records for the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), which was a New York based organization that was founded in 1953 and provided decades long support for independence struggles against colonialism and apartheid in Africa. ACOA was the predecessor of The Africa Fund, which was established in 1966 as a charitable and educational organization.

Related Publications

Robinson, James H., Road Without Turning, the Story of Reverand James H. Robinson; an Autobiography (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1950), 1-312.

Other Descriptive Information

An index of correspondence is available in paper form, please contact the Reference Services Department for more information.

Processing Information

The processing of this collection was completed in November, 1974.

James Herman Robinson papers
James H. Albins
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository

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