Marianne Robinson papers
Scope and Contents
Much of the collection is personal narratives, poetry, reflections, and correspondence with various family members. The most prominent relationship documented is that of Marianne Robinson and her daughter, Vicki Sue, who sang the disco anthem "Turn the Beat Around" and died of cancer in 2000 at age 45. Marianne Robinson's letters, photographs, poetry, correspondence, and even invoices are fantastic primary sources for topics of the labor and women's movement, folk music, single motherhood, and activism. Her correspondence with Woody Guthrie (Box 2) might be of special interest.
Dates of Materials
- Robinson, Marianne Smolens (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
To the extent that she owns copyright, Robinson has assigned the copyright in her works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Robinson, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
Marianne"Jolly"Smolens was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Smolens, a radical anarchist employed as a salesman, and Amy Potter, an artist and progressive socialist. When she was in fifth grade, her family moved to Arden, Delaware, a single tax, utopian community. Arden was also home to one of the co-founders of America's Communist Party, Ella Reeve ("Mother") Bloor and other visionaries who stressed dissent and freethinking. While still in high school, Smolens became involved in the civil rights movement and was drawn to the jazz and folk music scene in Philadelphia. Unable to go to college, she worked at a record store by day and frequented jazz clubs by night, while also singing folk songs at the meetings of various social justice coalitions. In 1948 Smolens moved to New York to work with People's Songs, singing with Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. That same year, she joined the Communist Party-USA, remaining a member until 1961, and was deeply involved in the radical politics of the day, no easy feat at the height of the McCarthy era. In 1951, Smolens married Bill Robinson, an African-American actor, and gave birth to their daughter Vicki Sue in 1954. Less than two years later, Marianne Robinson and her husband divorced, primarily due to his drug addiction. She raised their daughter, Vicki Sue, on her own, singing with her at benefit performances while taking secretarial and editorial jobs to pay the bills, usually with progressive labor unions or like-minded activist attorneys. She worked at"Ms. Magazine"for several years, and photographed union meetings and labor protests, . In 1980, Robinson and her partner of many years, Tom Schultz, moved to Berkeley, California where she started a business called Publishing Solutions. In 2010, she published her memoir,"Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire,"followed by a book of her photography entitled"Urban Impressions"(2013).
7.25 linear feet (6 boxes.)
Language of Materials
Marianne Robinson's letters, photographs, poetry, correspondence, and even invoices are fantastic primary sources for topics of the labor and women's movement, folk music, single motherhood, and activism. Her correspondence with Woody Guthrie might be of special interest.
Other Finding Aids
The collection has a container list that is available upon request by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Marianne Robinson in 2015.
- Biographical notes
- Biographical sketches
- Business cards
- Business records
- Communism -- United States
- Communist Party of the United States of America
- Contact sheets
- Guthrie, Woody
- Job applications
- Labor movement
- Labor movement -- 20th century
- Ms. (periodical)
- Musicians -- United States
- New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century
- Oral histories
- People's Songs
- Robinson, Marianne Smolens
- Robinson, Vicki Sue
- Second-wave feminism
- Seeger, Pete, 1919-
- Women in the music trade
- Working mothers -- United States
- Works of art
- Finding aid to the Marianne Robinson papers
- Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
- Madison White
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2018-10-18: Updated to conform to DACS
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063