ROLAND WELLS ROBBINS AND CONOVER-MILLS PUBLICATIONS RECORDS

OF THE CUSTODIANSHIP OF THE

ROBBINS-MILLS COLLECTION OF HERBERT WENDELL GLEASON PHOTOGRAPHIC NEGATIVES

1900-1988

Vault A45, Gleason, Unit 2

Robbins-mills collection

 

EXTENT: 7.5 linear feet (14 boxes).

ORGANIZATION AND ARRANGEMENT: Organized into five series: Series I. Gathered biographical research on, and papers of, Herbert Wendell Gleason, 1900-1987; Series II. Records on the custodianship and use of the Gleason negatives, 1954-1988; Series III. Inventories and subject "sets" or lists of Herbert Wendell Gleason photographic negatives, 1960s-1980s; Series IV. Publications reflecting use of the Gleason negatives, 1918-1984; Series V. Photographic prints and negatives, circa 1899-1980s. Series V is divided into subseries (see series/subseries listing, below). Series are arranged chronologically with the exception of Series V, Subseries V.A, which is arranged to reflect the organization of the photographic negatives in the Robbins Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives of Images of Concord, Mass., 1899-1937 in the William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault B5 Unit 6; finding aid at http://www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/fin_aids/Gleason).

HISTORY:  Roland Wells Robbins (1908-1987) was an archeologist prior to the professionalization of the field, a historian, and a businessman whose occupations focused mainly on Henry David Thoreau and his world. Robbins is known for finding and excavating the site of Thoreau's cabin in 1945. In 1949, he purchased a collection of Thoreauvian photographer Herbert Wendell Gleason's photographic negatives from the A.D. Handy Company and subsequently began to organize, document and promote the collection. His entrepreneurial efforts in the collection resulted in the sale of part of the collection to Concord Free Public Library in 1953, and the use of the photographs in numerous magazines and books including Thoreau Country by Herbert Wendell Gleason, published by Sierra Club Books in 1975. Robbins also sold most of Gleason's Canadian negatives to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta Canada in 1979. In 1980, Heather Conover and her then-husband Nick Mills, a professional photographer, purchased the collection from Roland Wells Robbins. Together, they formed the Herbert Wendell Gleason Collection (a partnership) and Conover-Mills Publications in 1981, and as Conover-Mills Publications, proceeded to further inventory, promote and publish the Gleason images. Their work with the collection included multiple calendars in the early 1980s, publications by the Walden Pond State Reservation, and an exhibit by the De Cordova Museum. Mills sold the collection to the Concord Free Public Library in 1997.

SCOPE AND CONTENT:  This collection documents the care and use of the Robbins-Mills Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives and supplements that collection. The bulk of the collection is comprised of letters regarding the use of the collection and photographic prints of images taken by Herbert Wendell Gleason. The prints contains images both from the Robbins-Mills Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives and images not found in the Gleason collection. The collection also includes clippings, magazines, ephemera (such as pamphlets), and some photographic negatives (not by Gleason). Both Robbins and Conover-Mills Publications collected information about Herbert Wendell Gleason; as a result the collection includes some material from Gleason's time, 1900-1937. The bulk of the collection was generated and gathered by Roland Wells Robbins, 1940-1980. Both custodians of the photographic negatives kept many photocopies in addition to original materials, as a result, the date spans of major components of this collection are presented in this finding aid reflect the time periods during which photocopied material was gathered rather than when the originals were generated.

SOURCE OF ACQUISITION:  The bulk of the collection was acquired in 1997 with the Robbins-Mills Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives, 1899-1937.

RELATED COLLECTIONS:

Herbert Wendell Gleason Papers, [1905]-1937. William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault A45, Gleason, Unit 1; finding aid at http://www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/fin_aids/Gleason_papers)

Robbins-Mills Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason 
Photographic Negatives, 1899-1937. William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault B5 Unit 14, finding aid at http://www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/Fin_Aids/gleason_collguide)

Robbins Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives of Images of Concord, Mass., 1899-1937. William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault B5 Unit 6; finding aid at http://www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/fin_aids/Gleason)

Herbert Wendell Gleason slide lecture "Thoreau's Country" (a lecture on Henry David Thoreau's Concord and surrounding areas), [ca. 1915-1917, with later additions] . William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault B5, Unit 15; finding aid at http://www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/fin_aids/Gleason_Thoreau)

See also the list of Gleason-related materials in other library collections in the finding aid of Robbins-Mills Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason 
Photographic Negatives: http://www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/robbins-mills/gleason_related.

PUBLICATION BASED ON USE OF PAPERS:

Wilson, Leslie Perrin. "The Herbert Wendell Gleason Negatives in the Concord Free Public Library: Odyssey of a Collection," The Concord Saunterer N. S. 7 (1999), 175-199.

PROCESSED BY:  Janaya Kizzie, 2016 with the assistance of volunteer Carol Gannon. Prelinary processing by volunteer Ronald Epp. Finding aid completed June 2016.

 SERIES/SUBSERIES LISTING

Series I. Gathered biographical research on, and papers of, Herbert Wendell Gleason, 1900-1987
Series II. Records on the custodianship and use of the Gleason negatives, 1954-1988
Series III. Inventories and subject "sets" or lists of Herbert Wendell Gleason photographic negatives, 1960s-1980s
Series IV. Publications reflecting use of the Gleason negatives, 1918-1984
Series V. Photographic prints and negatives, 1899-1980s
     Subseries V.A. Photographs and negatives of Herbert Wendell Gleason images, 1970s-1980s
     Subseries V.B. Photographic prints and negatives unrelated to the Herbert Wendell Gleason Collection, circa 1899-1939

 CONTAINER LIST

 Series I. Gathered biographical research on, and papers of, Herbert Wendell Gleason, 1900-1987:

 Series II. Records on the custodianship and use of the Gleason negatives, 1954-1988:


 Series III. Inventories and subject "sets" or lists of Herbert Wendell Gleason photographic negatives, 1960s to the 1980s:

 

Series IV. Publications and related records regarding the use of the Herbert Wendell Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives, 1918-1984:

 Series V. Photographic prints and negatives, 1899-1980s:

 

Subseries V.A. Photographs and negatives of Herbert Wendell Gleason images, early 20th century, 1970s-1980s:
  • Box 8, Folder 1:Photographic prints related to Herbert Wendell Gleason and his family, gathered by Roland Wells Robbins, mid-late 20th century. Includes a list of a Roland Wells Robbins “set” of photographs titled “Herbert W. Gleason, 1855-1937, Minister-Photographer-Lecturer.”
  • Box 8, Folder 2: Photographic reversal film used or requested by the outdoor supply store, Moor and Mountain. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the book Illustrated Walden. See Roland Wells Robbins's work diaries in Series II.
  • Box 8, Folders 3-9: Photographic prints related to Thoreau's Cape Cod, with the early photographs of Herbert W. Gleason, circa 1971. Published by Barre Publishers in 1971. Includes some notes and some annotations related to printing; many are mounted on sheets of construction paper. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the Through the Year With Thoreau and other Thoreau/Gleason calendars, 1970s-1980s
  • Box 8, Folder 10: Photographic reversal film related to Western Wilderness of North America, circa 1971. Published by Barre in 1972. . Some prints are annotated. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the book. Western Wilderness of North America.
  • Box 8, Folders 11-14: Photographic prints related to Through the Year With Thoreau and other Thoreau/Gleason calendars, 1970s-1980s. Some prints are annotated. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the Through the Year With Thoreau and other Thoreau/Gleason calendars, 1970s-1980s
  • Box 8, Folder 15: Photographic prints related to the book Illustrated Walden, circa 1973. Published by Princeton University Press in 1973. Some prints are annotated with reproduction information. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the book Illustrated Walden.
  • Box 9, Folders 1-2: Photographic prints related to the book Thoreau Country by Herbert Wendell Gleason, circa 1974. Published by the Sierra Club in 1975. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the book Thoreau Country. Includes a copy of the agreement for the photographs, and some typed text in addition to the prints.
  • Box 9, Folder 3: Photographic prints related to the book Illustrated Maine Woods, circa 1973. Published by Princeton University Press in 1974. Some prints are annotated. These prints were removed during processing from custodial materials on the Gleason Collection of Photographic Negatives images used in the book Illustrated Maine Woods.
  • Box 9, Folders 4-11: Photographic prints related to Concord, Massachusetts, 1970s-1980s. Many made by and marked by Roland Wells Robbins or Conover-Mills Publications.
  • Box 10, Folder 1:Photographic prints of Thoreau images "Thoreau-iana", 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folder 2: Photographic prints, Thoreau's Last Journey, 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folder 3: Photographic prints (and unlabeled), Walden Pond, 1899-1903, 1919-1920 early 20th century, mostly late 20th century prints. Includes many notes.
  • Box 10, Folders 4-5: Photographic prints, Minnesota, Isle Royale, and Michigan, late 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folder 6: Photographic prints, portraits (includes pictures of portraits not made by Gleason), 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folders 7-8: Photographic prints, Massachusetts, 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folder 9: Photographic prints, Maine, 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folder 10: Photographic prints, New Hampshire, 20th century.
  • Box 10, Folders 11-13: Photographic prints, Rhode Island,  New York, Massachusetts (bulk Massachusetts), 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folder 1: Photographic prints, Newport, Rhode Island, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folders 2-5: Photographic prints, botanical photographs, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folder 6: Photographic prints, New York City and Staten Island, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folder 7: Photographic prints, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folder 8: Photographic print, Chicago, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folder 9: Photographic prints, North Dakota, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folder 10: Photographic prints, Utah (Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Coal Canyon), 1921.
  • Box 11, Folder 11:  Photographic prints from Gleason negatives,  Arizona, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folders 12-13: Photographic prints, Glacier Park, Montana, 20th century.
  • Box 11, Folders 14-18: Photographic prints, California, 20th century.
  • Box 12, Folder 1: Photographic prints, California, 1911 (prints 20th century).
  • Box 12, Folder 2: Photographic print, Seattle Washington, 20th century.
  • Box 12, Folder 3: Photographic prints, Alaska, late 20th century. Likely Robbins prints.
  • Box 12, Folder 4: Photographic prints, Portland, Oregon, 20th century.
    Box 12, Folder 5:Photographic print, "Stone Axes, Mesa Verde", 20th century.
  • Box 12, Folder 6-7: Photographic prints, Yellowstone National Park, 20th century.
  • Box 12, Folder 8: Photographic prints, "All Canada except BC", 20th century.
  • Box 12, Folder 9-11: Photographic prints, British Columbia, 20th century.
 Subseries V.B. Photographic prints and negatives unrelated to the Herbert Wendell Gleason Collection, circa 1899-1939:
  • Box 14: Glass plate and film negatives in sleeves, circa 1899-1939. Contains 4 boxes glass plate negatives labeled "Given to Roland W. Robbins by Prof. Ben. Grunewold, Sun., October 27, 1968." "Dup. Sold her original". Includes:
    • "Mrs. J. F. Hussey's Tulip Garden from Sundial toward House (Mrs. H & Mrs. Phillips fig.), Salem Mass", (film negative).
    • Family wedding portrait, 1930s or 1940s, labeled "Lester Putnam, Antrim, N. H." (film negative).
    • Wedding portrait of bride and groom, 1930s or 1940s (film negative).
    • Wedding portrait of bride, labeled "Lester Putnam, Antrim, N. H. " (film negative, 2 sets).
    • "Four scenes of country town", 1939 (film negative).
    • Woodland scenes, 1931 ("5 positives and 5 negatives")] (film negative).
    • "N. C. Wyeth's "Johnny and the Woodchuck-Skin Cap, p. 238, Men of Concord, 1936 [labeled "neg by Jan T. Riddell, March 15, 1972] (film negative).
    • "Lawrenceburg, Monument, Alcott Graves, Concord, Mass." (glass plate negative).
    • "Old Photo Newburyport Turnpike - Topsfield, by Geo. Don, 1932" (film negative).
    • "Mohawk Trail; Mrs. J. F. Hussey's Tulip Garden from little pool toward house, Salem, Mass" (film negative).
    • "Mrs. J. F. Hussey's Tulip Garden toward summer house, Salem, Mass." (film negative).
    • "Bald Mountain Camp, 1891" (glass plate negative).
    • "Opaque projector; England, Library, Asbury Hall"; "Page of an old book" (2 glass plate negatives).
    • "Diamond Camp, W. H. Gray, R. T. Robinson, June 1890".

Back to Finding Aids Page

Back to the Special Collections homepage

Home

Mounted 10th August 2016. Finding aid and html prepared by Janaya Kizzie. rcwh. Latest revision 31Aug 2016.
Not to be reproduced in any form, including image, without permission from the Curator of the William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Mass.