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Guide to the Burr L. Robbins Papers, 1936-1975 and undated

Abstract

Burr Lamberton Robbins was president of the General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA).

The Burr L. Robbins Papers span the years 1936-1975, and chiefly consist of three scrapbooks containing photographs, clippings, periodicals, memorabilia, and promotional materials. The majority of clippings are from advertising industry publications and Chicago newspapers. The loose materials section also includes administrative records. The collection primarily documents Robbins' career in outdoor advertising with the General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA), and his involvement with professional advertising organizations, particularly the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). Professional and outdoor advertising themes in the scrapbooks include Robbins' career advancement; his public speaking engagements on the role of advertising agencies in America; professional meetings and conferences; the history of GOA; outdoor advertising history; tension between citizens' groups and outdoor advertisers over billboard zoning; and legal decisions. The scrapbooks also touch on topics of personal interest to Robbins, including news about the Delevan Lake Improvement Association; Robbinswood Farm sheep; and family events. Photographs in the scrapbooks are primarily of professional meetings or conferences, or publicity events. Loose materials include items that were once part of the scrapbooks, and separate items. This section includes a notebook of 1942 photographs and papers about the 13th National Contest and Exhibit of Outdoor Advertising Art. Photographs of the three prizewinning posters, created by John DeLooy, Andrew Loomis, and Albert Staehle, are included in this notebook. Also in this section is a spiral-bound GOA publication, Image with Words, that documents a 1963 Chevrolet electric outdoor advertising campaign.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Robbins, Burr L.
Title
Burr L. Robbins papers 1936-1975 and undated
Language of Material
English
Extent
2.1 Linear Feet, 1650 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Burr L. Robbins Papers span the years 1936-1975, and chiefly consist of three scrapbooks containing photographs, clippings, periodicals, memorabilia, and promotional materials. The majority of clippings are from advertising industry publications and Chicago newspapers. The loose materials section also includes administrative records. The collection primarily documents Robbins' career in outdoor advertising with the General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA), and his involvement with professional advertising organizations, particularly the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). Professional and outdoor advertising themes in the scrapbooks include Robbins' career advancement; his public speaking engagements on the role of advertising agencies in America; professional meetings and conferences; the history of GOA; outdoor advertising history; tension between citizens' groups and outdoor advertisers over billboard zoning; and legal decisions. The scrapbooks also touch on topics of personal interest to Robbins, including news about the Delevan Lake Improvement Association; Robbinswood Farm sheep; and family events. Photographs in the scrapbooks are primarily of professional meetings or conferences; advertising executives; or publicity events. Loose materials include items that were once part of the scrapbooks, and separate items. This section includes a notebook of 1942 photographs and papers about the 13th National Contest and Exhibit of Outdoor Advertising Art. Photographs of the three prizewinning posters, created by John DeLooy, Andrew Loomis, and Albert Staehle, are included in this notebook. Also in this section is a spiral-bound GOA publication, "Image with Words," that documents a 1963 Chevrolet electric outdoor advertising campaign.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Consists of scrapbooks and loose materials. Scrapbooks contain photographs, magazine and newspaper clippings, periodicals, memorabilia, and promotional materials. The scrapbooks chiefly document Robbins' professional life and the history of the General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA), but also include items relating to Robbins' personal life. Loose materials include scrapbook items that had been removed or had fallen out, and other materials. Includes a notebook of 1942 photographs and papers about the 13th National Contest and Exhibit of Outdoor Advertising Art. Also contained in this section is a spiral-bound GOA publication, "Image with Words," that was created to document a 1963 Chevrolet electric outdoor advertising campaign. Scrapbooks are arranged in original page order. No order could be determined for loose materials.

Note: This series contains pictorial materials, newsprint, and other fragile materials. Please handle with care. Technical Services staff may need to reformat newsprint or other brittle paper.

Scrapbook 1, 1946-1961 and undated
(6 folders)
Box 1
Scrapbook 2, 1936-1958 and undated
(6 folders)
Box 2
Scrapbook 3, 1960-1963 and undated
(9 folders)
Box 3
Loose materials, 1942-1975 and undated
(2 folders)
Box 4

Historical Note

Burr L. Robbins

DateEvent(s)
1902Born Chicago, Ill.
1925Graduated from the University of Chicago
1925Married Margaret Ross
1925Employed as billposter, GOA
1930Founded the annual National Contest and Exhibit of Outdoor Advertising Art
1931Promoted to Chicago manager, GOA
1934Appointed Vice-President of the Chicago District, GOA
1936Appointed Regional Manager of the Chicago District, GOA
1941-1950Chairman of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) Outdoor Advertising Foundation at Notre Dame
1946Elected Executive Vice President, GOA
1951Elected President, GOA
1960Awarded the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award for Navy recruitment effors through outdoor advertising
1980Died, Chicago, Ill.

General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA)

DateEvent(s)
1925Burnett W. (B.W.) Robbins, father of Burr Robbins, founded GOA
1925-1951Tenure of B.W. Robbins as President
1931Outdoor Advertising, Inc. (OAI) spun off from GOA to manage selling and operating
1951-circa 1960sTenure of Burr L. Robbins as President
1952B.W. Robbins died
1957GOA purchased Canadian firm Claude Neon General Advertising, Limited
1963Outdoor advertising company Gamble-Skogmo, Inc. acquired control of GOA
1963-1964GOA sold branches and ceased activity as an operating company

Burr L. Robbins was a third-generation outdoor advertising executive whose father, Burnett W. (B.W.) Robbins, founded GOA. Robbins's grandfather, Burr Robbins, founded the American Billposting Company around 1890 to promote his popular circus, the Burr Robbins Circus.

In addition to the business interests listed above, Robbins served as an executive and director of a number of firms and organizations: the Lexington Poster Advertising Company; the Executive Committee of Outdoor Advertising Incorporated (OAI); Majestic Radio and Television Corporation; Walker and Company of Detroit; Old Colony Advertising Company; Mercantile National Bank of Chicago; and the Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising Company.

Robbins took on an active role in varied professional, social, and charitable organizations. In addition to the organizational interests listed above, Robbins served with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA); the Council on Medical and Biological Research at the University of Chicago; the Chicago Crime Commission; the Better Business Bureau of Chicago; the Traffic Audit Bureau; the Advertising Council; the Advertising Federation of America; the Chicago Federated Advertising Club; the Delavan Lake Improvement Association; the German Shepherd Dog Club of America; and the American Shropshire Registry Association.

Robbins enjoyed operating his family farm, Robbinswood Farm, in Delevan, Wisconsin. He consistently won awards for his Shropshire sheep, and also raised Hereford and Berkshire sheep.

Subject Headings

Related Material

Related Material

Materials related to this collection may be found in other Hartman Center collections, including the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) Archives, OAAA Poster Design Collection, and the OAAA Slide Library. Materials related to the commerical artist Albert Staehle may be found in the Garrett Orr Papers.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Burr L. Robbins Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Burr L. Robbins Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by Rita Johnston, November 2007

Encoded by Rita Johnston, November 2007

Accession 1999-0443 is described in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and our local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.