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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BINKLEY, ROBERT CEDRIC - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BINKLEY, ROBERT CEDRIC (10 Dec. 1897-11 April 1940), professor and Chairman of the Department of History at Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University (WRU, 1932-40), earned a national reputation as an historian pioneering and advocating archival preservation methods such as the Photostat, microphotography, and mimeography. As technical advisor for work relief projects operated through the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (1933-35) and then the WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION (1935-40) he helped establish Cleveland as a national center for project standards and development for the national HISTORICAL RECORDS SURVEY. Binkley was born in Mannheim, PA, the oldest of 11 children of Mary Engle Barr and Christian Kreider Binkley. He served in the U.S. Army in France during WORLD WAR I. After the war, he assisted Professor Ephraim D. Adams in developing the Hoover War Library at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. He received an A.B. (1922), A.M. (1924), and Ph.D. (1927) in history from Stanford. Before coming to WRU as acting professor in 1930, Binkley taught at New York University (1927-29), Smith College (1929-30), and Stanford (1930); he later served as visiting lecturer and professor at Harvard University (1932-33) and Columbia University (1937-38). Binkley also worked with the Library of Congress, attempting to save wartime documents and helping draft national copyright legislation. While chair of the Joint Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council (1932-40), Binkley proposed that relief labor be utilized in a variety of archival surveys. In his advisory affialiation with the WPA and Historical Records Survey national director Luther H. Evans, Binkley devised techniques by which white-collar relief workers sorted, correlated, and catalogued public and private archival records. One of the major results of this project was the Annals of Cleveland series (see HRS). These Annals served as models for similar projects around the country and embodied Binkley's desire to make a community's cultural resources more democratic through their accessibility to scholars, students, and citizens.

On 13 Sept. 1924, Binkley married Frances Williams in CA; the couple had three children, Barbara (who died in infancy), Robert Williams and Thomas Eden. Binkley died at Lakeside Hospital and was buried in CA. In his memory, WRU set up the Committee on Private Research, with a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation.

Fisch, Max H., ed. Selected Papers of Robert C. Binkley (Cambridge, 1948).

McDonald, Wm. Federal Emergency Relief and the Arts (Columbus, 1969).

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 01:57:48 PM

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