Jane Robinson

Jane Robinson


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Jane Robinson - History

Jane Impson Robinson raised ten children and four grandchildren against almost impossible conditions. While overcoming the loss of several children from tuberculosis she remained determined and devout servant of God. She raised their own food, slaughtered her own animals and sewed all family clothing. Today, she is still remember as Mrs. Robinson, “the Indian Lady on Russian Hill” and Hartshorne, Oklahoma.

In our Family, Jane Impson Robinson is our “Famous Person”, symbol of strength and spiritual leadership like so many original Choctaw Enrollees.

John W. Robinson, the son of N.C. and Jane Robinson was born in Kentucky in the year of 1844. He moved to Indian Territory where he was a teacher and accomplished stone mason. He was at one time a teacher in a Choctaw Indian Seminary.

He married Jane Impson in Jumbo, Indian Territory near Antlers in 1862. Jane Impson Robinson’s parents were Josiah and Jane Impson of Jack Fork County, Indian Territory. Josiah Impson and several brothers came from Mississippi to near Antlers, and lived in an area known as Impson Valley. Jane Robinson had three brothers, Isiaac, Morris, and Joshua.

John W. Robinson and Jane Robinson’s first-born child John Jr. was stillborn on December 16, 1885 in Jumbo. Shortly after, John W. and Jane Robinson moved to Hartshorne, Indian Territory, to allotted Indian land. They were the original pioneer settlers of the present-day Russian Hill section of Hartshorne. In 1897, John W. and Jane Robinson donated six acres of their land to Carpatho-Russian Immigrants on which to build a church. In 1897 the saints Kyril and Mefody Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church was dedicated as the only Orthodox Temple between St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California. A century later it stands as a symbol of the combined integrity of both Russian and Indian People.

Upon receiving allotted land, the Robinson family ultimately built three new homes on the western edge of Hartshorne. Proceeds from the sale of some allotted land or rental income permitted the Indian family to purchase a new “Whippet” brand automobile which they proudly drove about to be admired by the “white folks”. John W. Robinson used his skills as a stone mason to build several rock commercial buildings still in use in Hartshorne. A large rock spring fed water well built by Mr. Robinson in 1904 can still be found in good condition on the original homesite.

Prejudice toward Choctaw people was common even in the 1930’s and 1940’s. A great-grandson of Jane Robinson remembers as a child of five or six, walking to Hartshorne with her and hearing people calling her an “Indian gut eater” or “Indian nigger”. On one occasion Mrs. Robinson was ordered off a narrow side walk by a white man so he could pass. She responded by singing in Choctaw as she proceeded to claim her rights to the sidewalk with her great-grandson in tow.

Seeking medical services at the U.S. Government Hospital in Talihina in the 1920’s involved a days trip by wagon or automobile to Wilburton. Staying overnight there, the Choctaws from Hartshorne would then travel a second day over the mountains south of Wilburton to Talihina. The present highway east of Hartshorne to Talihina did not exist then. The hospital was a wooden building and only basic care was available. As an inpatient there, Jane Robinson remembered an orphan’s home Choctaws nearby which provided dairy product for the hospital. As an elderly patient in the “new” hospital built in 1937, she enjoyed the antics of little Choctaw boys at the nearby orphans home.

Jane Robinson often told of Indian customs related to death. When death occurred, a year of mourning followed. To mark the end of mourning, a Choctaw “Cry” was held near the grave. The family was encircled by friends and the “Song of Everlasting” sung. This released the family from mourning and the deceased was never again mourned by calling his name.

John W. Robinson died on October 25, 1916. Jane Impson Robinson continued to rear children in addition to her four grandchildren C.H. Robinson, Dean Shockley, Euleda Shockley and Evelyn Jane Shockley Ledbetter.

Jane Robinsons was known as a matriarch, committed and devoted to rearing family in difficult times. She was highly respected among Indian and non-Indian people and preferred to speak the Choctaw language rather than English. She was called “Jensie” by Choctaw People. Jane Impson Robinson at 9 am on Saturday, July 27, 1940. Reatives present at her death in Hartshorne were May Esther, Rosa Ann, Ruth Lavaughan, Evelyn Jane and her son Foy.

Jane Robinson – Date of birth – July 27, 1940
Choctaw Roll No. 10723
Dawes Roll No. 14660


Happy Birthday, dear WI!

It’s been a busy week for everyone involved in the centenary of the Women’s Institute. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get through the ballot for the Garden Party on Tuesday 2 nd June, and I couldn’t apply for the Albert Hall AGM as I was working with the U3A that day. But that doesn’t mean I’ve missed out on the excitement. My name must be lurking somewhere on a dusty list at the BBC and ITV: when there’s something going on with the WI, who’re you gonna call? I’m honoured that this week, at least, it’s been me.

Local BBC and independent radio stations have been eager to pick up the centenary story. It might have been nice had they covered it on their drive-time shows (with a nice cup of tea and a suitable cake) but hey, I don’t mind being bright and breezy on air at – what was it this morning, for BBC London? Six-thirty am, I seem to remember.

On Tuesday, the day of the Garden Party, I was summoned at two hours’ notice to Buckingham Palace to do a piece for the News at Ten. I’ve been peripherally involved with the media for ages now, but I still can’t quite get used to the last-minute, split-second nature of it all. I leapt on the train, my lunch half-munched, and found my way to ITV’s satellite-dish van in Green Park meanwhile the newsroom had decided that it was too blustery to film outside (although right on cue, the sun came out as though someone had flicked a switch at 3 pm, when the Party was due to begin).

We eventually found an alternative venue for the interview – the gorgeous new library at LSE – and proceeded to film ten minutes or so of chat about the history of the WI, which was broadcast (cut, understandably, to a few seconds) that evening.

More radios the next day, and the next – I love it! Writing is such a solitary, physically passive sort of occupation. I grab any chance to get out and enthuse in public. And it feels such a privilege to be able to enthuse about the Women’s Institute, for which – as anyone who’s read A Force to be Reckoned With will know – I have unbounded admiration.

The television interview was different, but I have to say that most radio presenters tend to ask the same questions, and I thought it might be useful for those of you who are WI members involved with the local Press to know what those questions are. You’ve probably been asked them already, actually.

  1. Why Jam and Jerusalem?
  2. Still Jam and Jerusalem?
  3. Anything else apart from Jam and Jerusalem?
  4. Did the WI do anything before the Calendar Girls came along?
  5. Why are all WI members old?
  6. Why aren’t men allowed?

That just about sums it up, I think. I really hope this week will have finally changed the public’s mind about our radical, courageous, fun-loving and passionate organisation.

That would be the best 100th birthday-present of all.


Light the River

TALES ABOUND OF THE courageous steamboat captains of yore who pitted their navigational skills against the sandbars, rocks,and other hazards that the Mighty Mississippi put in their way. On moonless nights, before the advent of electric lights or the dredging of a uniform navigational channel, the river's twists and turns were especially treacherous. On such nights, the only safeguards against disaster were kerosene lamps dotting the riverbanks that were kept lit by dedicated federal government employees, whose exertions have, for the most part, gone unsung.

One of these post-light keepers was Jane Muckle Robinson, who started working on the river in 1885, when she was 23.Born in Belfast, Ireland, Robinson came to Dundas,Minnesota, with her family in 1881. Within the next few years she married Robert Robinson and moved to South Park, the area along the Mississippi that is now the city of South St. Paul. She lived therewith her husband in a little house on Bryant Avenue that they eventually shared with their seven children and several boarders. And while Robert worked in the Great Western car shops in South Park, his resourceful wife began a career with the United States Department of Commerce and Labor that would last a lifetime.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the agency responsible for hiring lighthouse keepers was also in charge of keeping the post-light keeper positions filled along the Mississippi River. Since large amounts of money-and people's lives--were at stake if the commercial operations were swallowed by the river, the rules governing the post-light keepers' conduct were very strict. Detailed instructions of how to care for the lamps were included along with the consequences for a dead light. From spring thaw to late fall, the keepers were responsible for their lights 24 hours a day. A full day's pay would be deducted from the keeper's wages if a lamp went dark.

Occasionally, due to circumstances beyond the employee's control, a light would
go out. If that happened, boat pilots were required to blow their whistles in a series of one long and three short blows until the keeper awoke, rowed out to the lamp, and lit the flame again. Storms were no excuse.

Every evening, Robinson would place the items she needed to tend the lamps in a small wooden boat. Then she would climb aboard in her billowing skirts and row upstream to the four lights she was assigned to keep watch over. Stopping at her first lamp,Robinson would trim the wick, fill the kerosene, clean the glass, and finally light the flame.Then she would move on to the next light,traveling a stretch of the river from Dayton's Bluff to the South St.Paul Union Stockyards. When each of her four lights were burning bright she would return home, only to get up in the morning to repeat the trip so she could extinguish the lamp.

Robinson finally retired in 1921, handing the job over to her son, Robert. In an article that appeared in the St. Paul Dispatch touting her work, Robinson estimated that in her 36-year stint as a government employee she had rowed the equivalent of twice around the globe. "The river traffic is much lighter than it was in the early days," she was quoted as saying,"and it seems to me there aren't as many stormsnowadays.We used to have some awful storms. They made it nearly impossible to go out."

But she did go out, year after year, with a steady strength and the quiet determination to do her duty. In the same article announcing her retirement, Robinson was lauded by the men she had protected. "She has been most dependable, river men say, and pilots guiding steamers or barge to St. Paul never have failed to find the beacons lighted to mark the channel's path."

Robinson's story may have drifted irretrievably into obscurity had it not been for Charlie Maguire, the "singing park ranger" of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, who learned about Robinson a year ago and recognized hers as a story well worth telling. "It may be men that steered these great big boats like Mark Twain up and down the Mississippi River" Maguire says, "but it was women that lit the lights and showed them where to go." Maguire wrote a song about Robinson that the entitled "Light the River." He performed it last summer at a ceremony in Grandview Park, which overlooks the river and is just around the bend from where one of Robinson's lights was located. His song is a tribute to the woman who worked so diligently day and night to keep river travelers safe:

Before a snag-log catches our poor boats
Before a sand bar lifts us too high to float
Before the river grabs us by the throat
Light the river Jane.

LYRICS
Rowing on the water
Pulling on the oar
Jane Robinson "Post Light Keeper"
Along the Mississippi River shore
Rowing on the water
To shine a light
On "Big Muddy" for all who study
His tarnished silver highway through the night

Chorus
"Light the River
Show your light until the break of day, now Jane
Light the River
Then we’ll be on our way"

Rowing on the water
Spring-flood to fall
Four lights showing whether clear or blowing
From Dayton Bluff to South Saint Paul
Rowing on the water
River woman Jane
Bend your back in service
To the brightest, purest, government specified
Clear white flame

Rowing on the water
Pulling on the oar
"Old Man River" is sneaking off
To join the shadows on the shore
Rowing on the water
Light the river Jane
Before the fire-flies shine in the evening time
Before the sun goes down and leaves us blind
Before the stars come out into the sky
This is what the pilots say
"Before a snag-log catches our poor boats"
"Before a sand-bar lifts us too high to float"
"Before the river grabs us by the throat"
"Light the river Jane"

"Light The River" Words, Music, Arrangement, by Charlie Maguire
1998-National Park Service


In the Family Way: Illegitimacy between the Great War and the Swinging Sixties review – a shameful history

I n 1920 an Anglican vicar refused a request to help illegitimate children on the grounds that it would be unforgivable to “approximate a human generation to the morals of the farmyard”. The children may be blameless – though arguably moral degeneracy was an inheritable characteristic – but assisting them would mean condoning the intemperance of their mothers.

These views are not surprising for their day but the great surprise in Jane Robinson’s new history of mid-century illegitimacy is how long these opinions persisted. The 1913 Mental Deficiency Act, enabling unmarried mothers to be categorised as “moral imbeciles” and sent to lunatic asylums, was only repealed in 1959. It was not until 1987 that the concept of “illegitimacy” was abolished in law and in 1968, in the age of the Beatles and the contraceptive pill, there were 12,993 illegitimate babies given up for adoption by women unable to face the stigma of unmarried motherhood.

Robinson’s aim here is to provoke a moment of collective shame in a nation capable not only of routinely sending its unmarried mothers into the workhouse and their children into care but of exporting its youth to the Commonwealth and colonies. “We can acknowledge that wickedness now,” she writes, “and must never forget it.”

She has made contact with 100 unmarried mothers and their progeny and deftly interweaves their stories with the political and institutional history. These frequently make painful reading, whether it is the 11-year-old boy suddenly told by his mother that he must not admit to being her son when they board a bus together, the old lady cradling a bundle of linen in her arms as she remembers holding the baby she was forced to give up for adoption, or the boy in a Canadian foster home so lonely that he sews a smile on to his teddy-bear.

It is clear how for Robinson’s subjects her book can offer a kind of virtual group therapy. Many of the experiences are shared and it will be moving for the women and their offspring to learn that they were not alone. For the illegitimate children, this will be a chance to read about the conditions in which their mothers conceived, gave birth and in many cases abandoned them, showing that they were not necessarily unwanted or unloved.

There are some surprises along the way, too. The chapter on the fathers of illegitimate children is especially interesting because it defies expectations. There is the inevitable sprinkling of cads, including one soldier who applied to a relief fund for help to maintain his “16 wives and one mother”, but there are also men keen to take charge of their abandoned children and prevented from doing so by a state convinced that they are better cared for by strangers. It was only after the 1958 Adoption Act that the wishes of the birth fathers were consulted at all.

Nonetheless, most of the themes and attitudes become quickly familiar. Because their experiences are so similar, the cast has a tendency to merge. Robinson mentions a few more famous cases of illegitimacy (Lawrence of Arabia and Ramsay MacDonald were both illegitimate children, while Dorothy L Sayers had an illegitimate child) and refers occasionally to examples where the subject has been treated in fiction (Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey is a classic example). These might have added colour if explored at more length.

Perhaps most interesting would have been a wider global perspective. For me the most fascinating paragraph in the book comes almost in passing, when Robinson mentions that “today, in many parts of the world you can post unwanted babies through a sort of cat-flap in a hospital or an orphanage wall, where they land gently in a heated cot”. In Japan this hatch is known as a “stork’s cradle”, where in Poland it is “the window of life”. Who provides these services? Do the narratives of these hatches continue the stories told by Robinson in other guises? What are the new contexts that lead these cycles to continue?

These seem crucial questions that, if answered, would add to the force of Robinson’s case as she decries the generations of British civil servants, lawmakers and even doctors and philanthropists who have produced generations of neglected children and unhappy adults. Robinson’s title In the Family Way is fittingly ironic: a family is just what most of these women and their children craved for the rest of their lives.


Jane Robinson - History

Jane Impson
Submitted by Frank Cuzalina, son

Jane Impson Robinson raised ten children and four grandchildren against almost impossible conditions. Whole overcoming the loss of several children from tuberculosis she remained a determined and devout servant of God. She raised their own food, slaughtered her own animals and sewed all family clothing. Today, she is still remembered as Mrs. Robinson, “the Indian Lady on Russian Hill” in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. In our family, Jane Impson Robinson is our “Famous Person”, a symbol of strength and spiritual leadership like so many original Choctaw enrollees.

John W. Robinson, the son of N.C. and Jane Robinson was born in Kentucky in the year 1844. He moved to Indian Territory where he was a teacher and accomplished stonemason. He was at one time a teacher in a Choctaw Indian Seminary. He married Jane Impson in Jumbo, Indian Territory near Antlers in 1862. Jane Impson Robinson’s parents were Josiah and Jane Impson of Jack Fork County, Indian Territory. Josiah Impson and several brothers came from Mississippi to near Antlers, and lived in an area known as Impson Valley. Jane Robinson had three brothers, Isiaac, Morris and Joshua. John W. Robinson and Jane Robinson’s first-born child John Jr. was stillborn on December 16, 1885 in Jumbo. Shortly after, John W. and Jane Robinson moved to Hartshorne, Indian Territory, to allotted Indian land. They were the original pioneer settlers of the present day Russian Hill section of Hartshorne. In 1897, John W. and Jane Robinson donated six acres of their land to Carpatho-Russian Immigrants on which to build a church. In 1897 the Saints Kyril and Mefody Russian Orthodox Temple between St. Louis, Missouri and San Franciso, California. A century later it stands as a symbol of the combined integrity of both Russian and Indian people. Upon receiving allotted land, the Robinson family ultimately built three new homes on the western edge of Hartshorne. Proceeds from the sale of some allotted land or rental income permitted the Indian family to purchase a new “Whippet” brand automobile which they proudly drove about to be admired by the “white folks” John W. Robinson used his skills as a stone mason to build several rock commercial buildings still in use in Hartshorne. A large rock spring fed water well built by Mr. Robinson in 1904 can still be found in good condition on the original home site.

Prejudice toward Choctaw people was common even in the 1930’s and 1940’s. A great-grandson of Jane Robinson remembers as a child of five or six, walking to Hartshorne with her and hearing people calling her and “Indian gut eater” or “Indian nigger”. On one occasion a white man ordered Mrs. Robinson off a narrow sidewalk so that he could pass. She responded by singing in Choctaw as she proceeded to claim her rights to the sidewalk with her great-grandson in tow! Seeking medical services at the U.S. Government Hospital in Talihina in the 1920’s involved a day’s trip by wagon or automobile to Wilburton. Staying overnight there, the Choctaws from Hartshorne would then travel on the second day over the mountains south of Wilburton to Talihina. The present highway east of Hartshorne to Talihina did not exist then. The hospital was a wooden building and only basic care was available. As an inpatient there, Jane Robinson remembered an orphan’s home for Choctaws nearby which provided dairy products for the hospital. As an elderly patient in the “new” hospital built in 1937, she enjoyed the antics of little Choctaw boys at the nearby orphan’s home.

Jane Robinson often told of Indian customs related to death. When death occurred, a year of mourning followed. To mark the end of mourning, a Choctaw “Cry” was held near the greave. The family was encircled by friends and the ‘Song of Everlasting” sung. This released the family from mourning and the deceased was never again mourned by calling his name.

John W. Robinson died on October 25, 1916. Jane Impson Robinson continued to rear children in addition to her four grandchildren C.H. Robinson, Dean Shockley, Euleda Shockley and Evelyn Jane Shockley Ledbetter. Jane Robinson was known as a matriarch, committed and devoted to rearing a family in difficult times. She was highly respected between Indian and non-Indian people and preferred to speak the Choctaw language rather than English. She was called “Jensie” by Choctaw people. Jane Impson Robinson died at 9 AM on Saturday, July 27, 1940. Relatives present at her death in Hartshorne were Mary Esther, Rosa Ann, Ruth Lavaughan, Evelyn Jane and her son Foy. Jane Robinson Date of Birth – Unknown, Date of Death – July 27, 1940. The Robinson Family and some of their descendants include Minnie Shockley – She was married to John Ed Shockley, a Choctaw from Stringtown, Oklahoma. Her children were Otto Shockley, Euleda Tallon, Sean Shockley and Evelyn Jane Ledbetter. Grandchildren Mildred and Jim Tallon, Ronald, Foy and Barbara Ledbetter. Josiah – Died in 1919 in Belgium as a soldier. He had no children Wife’s name was Lena. Teresa- Died at age 19. She was married to a Mr. Davidson. They had no children.

Charles Jesse- Married to Rose, and had one child a son, C.H. Robinson. “Charlie” was a jeweler, owning two jewelry stores in Hot Springs and Heber Springs, Arkansas. Both he and Rose died of tuberculosis, leaving C.H. an orphan at age fourteen. C.H. was tragically killed in a swimming accident near Hartshorne at age 19. Rosa Ann McKinley Robinson- Date of birth – May 26, 1897 Date of death – November 23, 1946. Married to Charles Lester “Jack” Thomas and had two children. Ruth Lavaughn and Eudora June. Ruth Lavaughn Thomas married Frank Cuzalina, and had four sons Frank Ralph, Charles Thomas (died of pneumonia in 1936), Dale Angelo and Lawrence Dean. Franks wife is Jancie Monta and his children of Choctaw ancestry are Charles Courtland, William Frank, Lyle Dale and Frank Jay.

Frank has one granddaughter of Choctaw ancestry, Courtney Ann Cuzalina. Dale’s wife is Dianna Lynn. He has no children. Lawrence’s wife is Sheila Ann and they have three sons of Choctaw ancestry Larence Angelo, Chris Dale and Kevin dean. The three sons of Ruth Lavaughn all reside in McAlester, Oklahoma. Eudora June Thomas married Bill Wansick and has one son, Billy Ray and two grandchildren Carla and Michael all of Choctaw heritage. Eudora June resides in Haileyville, Oklahoma. Theodore R. – He was married to Edna. They had four children Teddy Rose, Edna Lucille, Martha Jane and John who settled in Grass Valley, California. Mary Esther – She married Bill O. Killebrew and had eleven children Mary Evelyn, Betty Jane, Una Mae, Josiah, Bob, Paul, John, Norma, Erma, Wesley and an unnamed stillborn daughter. The Killebrews have a multitude of grandchildren, most of whom live in the Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada area. Jane Lucille – not enrolled. She married Boyd Roberts and had one son, Jerry Morris Roberts and three grandchildren.

Jane Lucille Roberts is the sole surviving member of the John W. and Jane Robinson family. At age 92 (as of 1996) she resides in northern California. Walter – not enrolled. He and his wife Laura had two sons Arden of McAlester, Oklahoma and Jack Alexander who lives in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. John Jr. – stillborn, not enrolled.


Sarah Jane Robinson, Massachusetts Serial Killer - 1886

[“The Awful Crime Of One Woman. - Eleven Victims, Her Husband And Children Among The Number, Put To Death—The Infatuation Of Insurance Money The Origin Of Her Peculiar Mania.” Chariton Herald (Io.), Aug. 19, 1886, p. 3]

FULL TEXT: Irish-born Sarah Jane Tennent used poison to settle differences and gain insurance money. After marrying a man named Robinson. Sarah pointed her Boston landlord and, in 1882, her husband. the widow next poisoned her sister Annie so that she could wed Annie’s husband, Prince Arthur Freeman. When Freeman declined her marriage proposal, he, to, was poisoned.

EXCERPT: Sarah Jane Robinson was sentenced to hang on November 16, 1888. By the end of October, public sentiment had turned in Mrs. Robinson’s favor and a petition to commute her sentence to life in prison was submitted to Governor Ames. Among the five hundred signers were seventy-six ministers and seven members of the jury that convicted her. On November 15 the governor commuted Mrs. Robinson’s sentence to life in solitary confinement. Sarah Jane Robinson died in prison January 3, 1906 at the age of 67 from complications following a prolonged illness.


Profiles in perseverance

Every Black History Month, we tend to celebrate the same cast of historic figures. They are the civil rights leaders and abolitionists whose faces we see plastered on calendars and postage stamps. They resurface each February when the nation commemorates African Americans who have transformed America.

They deserve all their accolades. But this month we are focusing instead on 28 seminal Black figures – one for each day of February – who don’t often make the history books.

Each transformed America in a profound way. Many don’t fit the conventional definition of a hero. Some were foul-tempered, weighed down by personal demons, and misunderstood by their contemporaries.

One was a mystic, another was a spy who posed as a slave, and another was a brilliant but troubled poet dubbed the “Godfather of Rap.” Few were household names. All of them were pioneers.

It’s time for these American heroes to get their due.

February 27

Althea Gibson

She was the Jackie Robinson of tennis

Long before Venus and Serena Williams, another tall, young Black woman shook up the staid world of tennis with her powerful serve and brilliant play.

She was Althea Gibson, and tennis had long been a segregated sport when her skill and strength broke the color barrier in the 1950s.

Gibson’s path to tennis stardom was unusual. She grew up in Harlem, on a block where – as luck would have it – New York City police blocked traffic so the neighborhood kids could play sports.

There she learned paddle tennis, and took to the sport so quickly she won a citywide tournament at age 12.

Recognizing her talent, neighbors raised funds to help pay for tennis lessons, and a career was born.

Gibson began winning local and regional tournaments, but was barred from national events because of her race. In 1950, though, after intense lobbying, she became the first African American to compete in the US National Championships – the precursor to the US Open.

In 1956, Gibson became the first Black player to win a Grand Slam tournament, the French Championships. The next year she was the first Black champion in the 80-year history of Wimbledon, receiving the trophy from Queen Elizabeth II.

By the time Gibson retired from tennis, she had won 11 Grand Slam titles and was the world’s top-ranked female player.

At age 37, she took up professional golf, becoming the first Black player on the LPGA tour. Racism followed her. Many country clubs refused to let her compete, fans taunted her with slurs and she was sometimes forced to change clothes in her car. But her success in two sports dominated by Whites inspired generations of Black athletes.

“I always wanted to be somebody,” Gibson once said. “If I made it, it’s half because I was game enough to take a lot of punishment along the way and half because there were a lot of people who cared enough to help me.”

—Nicole Chavez, CNN Photo: Bettman Archive/Getty Images

Bayard Rustin

He organized the 1963 March on Washington

Bayard Rustin overcame prejudice on multiple levels to become a key ally of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and one of the most important civil rights leaders of the 20th century.

An openly gay Black man during the Jim Crow era, Rustin was arrested for having sex with men at a time when homosexuality was widely considered a form of mental illness. He served more than two years in federal prison for refusing to fight in World War II because of his pacifist Quaker beliefs.

But it was Rustin’s connection with King that became perhaps the high-water mark of his life.

After King became nationally known for leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rustin — inspired by the teachings of Gandhi — traveled to King’s home in 1956 to convince him to adopt nonviolence as a protest tactic and a way of life. Rustin’s words were a revelation to King, who had armed bodyguards in his home.

The following year, Rustin helped King found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

King was pressured to drop Rustin from his inner circle of advisors because of his sexual orientation, but he refused to abandon him. King said no one could replace Rustin. Although Rustin sometimes had to keep a low public profile during the civil rights movement, he became more outspoken about his sexuality later in life and and has been hailed a hero by LGBQT activists.

Rustin’s crowning achievement was organizing the March on Washington, which brought more than 200,000 peaceful protesters of different races and religions to the nation’s capital in August 1963. The event, culminating in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, was a rousing success. Organizing the gathering was a staggering logistical feat, but Rustin pulled it off in less than two months.

—John Blake, CNN Photo: Patrick A. Burns/New York Times Co./Getty Images

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander

She became an inspiration to Black women lawyers

To say that Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander shattered multiple glass ceilings is an understatement.

The Philadelphia native was the first Black person in the nation to earn a Ph.D. in economics in 1921. Three years later, she earned a law degree and went on to become the first Black woman to pass the Pennsylvania bar and practice law in the state.

Alexander accomplished all this while often facing bitter acts of racial prejudice. As a first-year undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, she was told she couldn’t check books out of the school library. A dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law lobbied against her being selected to join the university’s law review. She persevered and made law review anyway.

Alexander’s accomplishments were chronicled by the Urban League in “Negro Heroes,” its comic book showcasing influential Black Americans, where she was named ‘Woman of the Year’ in 1948.

Even US presidents took notice. In 1947, President Harry Truman named her to his Committee on Civil Rights, whose report became a blueprint for the civil rights movement. Some 30 years later, President Jimmy Carter appointed her chair of the White House Conference on Aging, which sought to address the social and economic needs of the elderly.

By the time of her death at 91, Alexander had been awarded seven honorary degrees and had taken her rightful place as a revered champion of equal rights for all.

—Simret Aklilu, CNN Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

Howard Thurman

The scholar whose words inspired Martin Luther King Jr.

He was a shy man who didn’t lead marches or give dramatic speeches. But Howard Thurman was a spiritual genius who transformed history.

Thurman was a pastor and professor and mystic whose groundbreaking book, “Jesus and the Disinherited,” was a condemnation of a form of Christianity which Thurman said was far too often “on the side of the strong and the powerful against the weak and oppressed.”

The book revolutionized the traditional portrait of Jesus and had a profound influence on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s faith and activism.

Born in Florida during the “nadir” of race relations in post-Civil War America, Thurman graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was a classmate of “Daddy King,” the father of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

His impact on the younger King would be profound.

Thurman was the first African American pastor to travel to India and meet Mohandas Gandhi. And he was one of the first pastors to inspire King to merge Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance with the civil rights movement. Thurman’s concepts about nonviolence and Jesus are peppered through King’s writings.

Thurman, though, didn’t fit the image of a fiery, silver-tongued Black preacher. He punctuated his sermons with long silences and enigmatic phrases such as “the sound of the genuine.” Before “interfaith dialogue” became common, Thurman also worshiped with people of other faiths and warned about the dangers of religious fundamentalism.

Thurman’s life was proof that all sorts of people could become influential leaders in the civil rights movement.

—John Blake, CNN Photo: Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Audre Lorde

Her fierce poetry celebrated Black women

“Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”

That’s how Audre Lorde famously introduced herself.

Her career as a teacher and a writer spanned decades and though she died almost 30 years ago, much of the work she left behind is still cherished and quoted today.

Born to immigrant parents from Grenada, Lorde was raised in Manhattan and published her first poem while still in high school. She served as a librarian in New York public schools before her first book of poetry was published in 1968.

In her work, she called out racism and homophobia and chronicled her own emotional and physical battle with breast cancer. Her writing also humanized Black women in a way that was rare for her time.

As a Black queer woman, Lorde sometimes questioned her place in academic circles dominated by White men. She also battled with feminists she saw as focusing primarily on the experiences of White middle-class women while overlooking women of color.

Although she faced criticism from conservatives such as Sen. Jesse Helms over her subject matter, her work was widely lauded for its power.

In her later years, she founded a small press to publish the work of Black feminists and served as the state poet laureate of New York.

In an anthology of Lorde’s poetry and prose published last year, writer Roxane Gay put it like this: “Her work is something far more than something pretty to parrot … She made herself, and all black women, gloriously visible.”

—Leah Asmelash, CNN Photo: Robert Alexander / Getty Images

Ella Baker

She risked her life to rally activists in the Deep South

She played a major role in three of the biggest groups of the civil rights movement, but Ella Baker somehow still remains largely unknown outside activist circles.

Baker grew up in North Carolina, where her grandmother’s stories about life under slavery inspired her passion for social justice.

As an adult, she became an organizer within the NAACP and helped co-found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led. She also helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

For her efforts, Baker has been called the “mother of the civil rights movement.”

Baker was best known not as a frontline leader but a mentor to some of the biggest leaders in the movement. She taught volunteers that the movement couldn’t depend solely on charismatic leaders and empowered them to become activists in their own community.

This is the approach that guided SNCC when it embarked on its Freedom Summer voter registration drive in Mississippi in 1964. Baker often risked her life going into small Southern towns to organize.

“The major job,” she once said, “was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use.”

Baker had reason to distrust charismatic leaders. Many of the biggest leaders of the civil rights movement came from a Black church tradition where women were expected to be submissive.

Nobody ever accused the strong-willed Baker of taking a back seat to anyone.

Her relationship with King is still a matter of debate. King had trouble with assertive women like Baker, historians say, and she eventually left the SCLC.

She still made her mark. Many of the biggest civil rights leaders credit Baker, not King, as their inspiration. SNCC activists called her “Fundi,” a Swahili word for a person who teaches a skill to the next generation.

—John Blake, CNN Photo: Jack Harris / Associated Press

Gordon Parks

His photos chronicled the African American experience

For much of the mid-1900s, it seemed like the world learned about Black America through the eyes of Gordon Parks.

His creative endeavors were astoundingly versatile. Parks performed as a jazz pianist, composed musical scores, wrote 15 books and co-founded Essence magazine.

He adapted his novel “The Learning Tree” into a 1969 film, becoming the first African American to direct a movie for a major studio, and later directed “Shaft,” a hit film that spawned the Blaxploitation genre.

But he reached his artistic peak as a photographer, and his intimate photos of African American life are his most enduring legacy.

After buying a camera from a pawn shop at 25, Parks began snapping away. His images of life on Chicago’s South Side in the early 1940s won him a job documenting rural poverty for the federal government.

Parks’ photos evoked the humanity of his subjects, inspiring empathy and activism. A 1948 photo essay about a Harlem gang leader landed him a gig as Life magazine’s first Black staff photographer.

In the decades that followed, Parks traveled the country capturing iconic images of the segregated South, the civil rights movement and such figures as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. His images now grace the permanent collections of major art museums.

Parks famously called the camera his “weapon of choice,” a tool to fight poverty, racism and other societal ills. As he once put it to an interviewer, “I pointed my camera at people mostly who needed someone to say something for them.”

—Harmeet Kaur, CNN Photo: Everett/Shutterstock

Daisy Gatson Bates

She helped the Little Rock Nine integrate a high school

When the Little Rock Nine walked into Central High School in 1957, the entire country was watching.

Many saw a mob of jeering White students surrounding a lone Black girl whose eyes were shielded by sunglasses. A photo of that moment became one of the most iconic images of the civil rights movement.

What Americans didn’t see, though, was the woman who organized those Black students: Daisy Gatson Bates.

Then president of the Arkansas NAACP, Bates planned the strategy for desegregation in the state. She selected the nine students, driving them to the school and protecting them from crowds.

After President Eisenhower intervened, the students were allowed to enroll – a major victory for desegregation efforts across the South. And that’s only part of Bates’ legacy.

She was born in a tiny town in southern Arkansas. Her childhood was marred by tragedy when her mother was sexually assaulted and killed by three White men. Her father later abandoned her, leaving young Daisy to be raised by family friends.

As an adult, Bates moved with her husband to Little Rock, where they founded their own newspaper, The Arkansas State Press, which covered the civil rights movement. She eventually helped plan the NAACP’s strategy for desegregating schools, leading to her involvement with the Little Rock Nine.

In the 1960s, Bates moved to Washington D.C., where she worked for the Democratic National Committee and for anti-poverty projects in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. Her memory lives on with Daisy Gatson Bates Day, a state holiday celebrated in Arkansas each February.

—Leah Asmelash, CNN Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Fritz Pollard

He was the first Black coach in the NFL

The son of a boxer, Fritz Pollard had grit in his veins.

At 5 feet, 9 inches and 165 pounds, he was small for football. But that didn’t stop him from bulldozing barriers on and off the field.

Pollard attended Brown University, where he majored in chemistry and played halfback on the football team. He was the school’s first Black player and led Brown to the 1916 Rose Bowl, although porters refused to serve him on the team’s train trip to California.

After serving in the Army during World War I, he joined the Akron Pros of the American Professional Football Association, which later became the NFL. He was one of only two Black players in the new league.

Fans taunted him with racial slurs, and opposing players tried to maim him. But Pollard, a swift and elusive runner, often had the last laugh.

“I didn’t get mad at them and want to fight them,” he once said. “I would just look at them and grin, and in the next minute run for an 80-yard touchdown.”

In 1921, while he was still a player, the team also named him its coach – the first African American head coach in league history.

Over the next seven years, Pollard coached four different teams and founded a Chicago football team of all-African American players. Later, he launched a newspaper and ran a successful investment firm. Pollard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

—Amir Vera, CNN Photo: Pro Football Hall Of Fame/NFL/AP

Gil Scott-Heron

He said ‘the Revolution Will Not Be Televised’

Gil Scott-Heron was a New York City poet, activist, musician, social critic and spoken-word performer whose songs in the ‘70s helped lay the foundation for rap music.

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably come across one of his poetic turns of phrase.

Some have called Scott-Heron the “godfather of rap,” though he was always reluctant to embrace that title. Still, the imprint he left on the genre – and music, more broadly – is unmistakable.

His work has been sampled, referenced or reinterpreted by Common, Drake, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Jamie xx, LCD Soundsystem and Public Enemy, just to name a few.

A darling of the cultural left wing, Scott-Heron never achieved mainstream popularity. But years after his death, his social and political commentary still figures in pop culture and protest movements around the world.

His 1970 spoken-word piece “Whitey on the Moon,” in which he criticized US government for making massive investments in the space race while neglecting its African American citizens, was featured in the 2018 film “First Man” and in HBO’s recent series “Lovecraft Country.”

But he’s perhaps best known for “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a poem about the disconnect between TV consumerism and demonstrations in the streets. The slogan continues to inspire social justice activists today.

—Harmeet Kaur, CNN Photo: Ian Dickson / Shutterstock

Marsha P. Johnson

She fought for gay and transgender rights

The late Marsha P. Johnson is celebrated today as a veteran of the Stonewall Inn protests, a pioneering transgender activist and a pivotal figure in the gay liberation movement. Monuments to her life are planned in New York City and her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

During her lifetime, though, she wasn’t always treated with the same dignity.

When police raided the New York gay bar known as the Stonewall Inn in 1969, Johnson was said to be among the first to resist them. The next year, she marched in the city’s first Gay Pride demonstration.

But Johnson still struggled for full acceptance in the wider gay community, which often excluded transgender people.

The term “transgender” wasn’t widely used then, and Johnson referred to herself as gay, a transvestite and a drag queen. She sported flowers in her hair, and told people the P in her name stood for “Pay It No Mind” – a retort she leveled against questions about her gender.

Her activism made her a minor celebrity among the artists and outcasts of Lower Manhattan. Andy Warhol took Polaroids of her for a series he did on drag queens.

Frequently homeless herself, Johnson and fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera opened a shelter for LGBTQ youth. She also was outspoken in advocating for sex workers and people with HIV/AIDS.

In 1992, Johnson’s body was found floating in the Hudson River. Police initially ruled her death a suicide but later agreed to reopen the case. It remains open to this day.

—Harmeet Kaur, CNN Photo: Diana Davies-NYPL/Reuters

Jane Bolin

The first Black woman judge in the US

Jane Bolin made history over and over.

She was the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School. The first Black woman to join the New York City Bar Association. The nation’s first Black female judge.

The daughter of an influential lawyer, Bolin grew up admiring her father’s leather-bound books while recoiling at photos of lynchings in the NAACP magazine.

Wanting a career in social justice, she graduated from Wellesley and Yale Law School and went into private practice in New York City.

In 1939, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed her a family court judge. As the first Black female judge in the country, she made national headlines.

For the compassionate Bolin, the job was a good fit. She didn’t wear judicial robes in court to make children feel more at ease and committed herself to seeking equal treatment for all who appeared before her, regardless of their economic or ethnic background.

In an interview after becoming a judge, Bolin said she hoped to show “a broad sympathy for human suffering.”

She served on the bench for 40 years. Before her death at age 98, she looked back at her lifetime of shattering glass ceilings.

“Everyone else makes a fuss about it, but I didn’t think about it, and I still don’t,” she said in 1993. “I wasn’t concerned about (being) first, second or last. My work was my primary concern.”

—Faith Karimi, CNN Photo: Bill Wallace/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Frederick McKinley Jones

He pioneered the modern refrigeration system

Frederick McKinley Jones was orphaned by age 8 and raised by a Catholic priest before he dropped out of high school.

That didn’t stop him from pursuing his calling as an inventor whose work changed the world.

A curious youth with a passion for tinkering with machines and mechanical devices, he worked as an auto mechanic and taught himself electronics. After serving in World War I, he returned to his Minnesota town and built a transmitter for its new radio station.

This caught the attention of a businessman, Joseph Numero, who offered Jones a job developing sound equipment for the fledgling movie industry.

On a hot summer night in 1937, Jones was driving when an idea struck him: What if he could invent a portable cooling system that would allow trucks to better transport perishable food?

In 1940, he patented a refrigeration system for vehicles, a concept that suddenly opened a global market for fresh produce and changed the definition of seasonal foods. He and Numero parlayed his invention into a successful company, Thermo King, which is still thriving today.

It also helped open new frontiers in medicine because hospitals could get shipments of blood and vaccines.

Before his death, Jones earned more than 60 patents, including one for a portable X-ray machine. In 1991, long after his death, he became the first African American to receive the National Medal of Technology.

—Faith Karimi, CNN Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

Max Robinson

The first Black anchor of a network newscast

A trailblazer in broadcasting and journalism, Max Robinson in 1978 became the first Black person to anchor the nightly network news.

But his road to the anchor’s chair wasn’t easy.

Robinson got his start in 1959 when he was hired to read the news at a station in Portsmouth, Virginia. His face was hidden behind a graphic that read, “NEWS.” One day he told the cameraman to remove the slide.

“I thought it would be good for all my folks and friends to see me rather than this dumb news sign up there,” Robinson once told an interviewer. He was fired the next day.

Robinson’s profile began to rise after he moved to Washington, where he worked as a TV reporter and later co-anchored the evening news at the city’s most popular station – the first Black anchor in a major US city.

He drew raves for his smooth delivery and rapport with the camera. ABC News noticed, moved him to Chicago and named him one of three co-anchors on “World News Tonight,” which also featured Frank Reynolds in Washington and Peter Jennings in London.

Later in his career, Robinson became increasingly outspoken about racism and the portrayal of African Americans in the media. He also sought to mentor young Black broadcasters and was one of the 44 founders of the National Association of Black Journalists.

—Amir Vera, CNN Photo: ABC/Getty Images

Bessie Coleman

The first Black woman to become a pilot

Born to sharecroppers in a small Texas town, Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman became interested in flying while living in Chicago, where stories about the exploits of World War I pilots piqued her interest.

But flight schools in the US wouldn’t let her in because of her race and gender.

Undeterred, Coleman learned French, moved to Paris and enrolled in a prestigious aviation school, where in 1921 she became the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license.

Back in the US, Coleman began performing on the barnstorming circuit, earning cheers for her daring loops, acrobatic figure-eights and other aerial stunts. Fans called her “Queen Bess” and “Brave Bessie.”

Coleman dreamed of opening a flight school for African Americans, but her vision never got a chance to take off.

On April 30, 1926, she was practicing for a May Day celebration in Jacksonville, Florida, when her plane, piloted by her mechanic, flipped during a dive. Coleman wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and plunged to her death. She was only 34.

But her brief career inspired other Black pilots to earn their wings, and in 1995 the Postal Service issued a stamp in her honor.

—Leah Asmelash, CNN Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Fannie Lou Hamer

She riveted viewers at the DNC

Most of the civil rights movement’s leaders were Black male preachers with impressive degrees and big churches. Fannie Lou Hamer was a poor, uneducated Black woman who showed that a person didn’t need fancy credentials to inspire others.

She was so charismatic that even the President of the United States took notice.

Hamer was the youngest of 20 children born to a sharecropping family in Mississippi. She had a powerful speaking and gospel singing voice, and when activists launched voter registration drives in the mid-1960s, they recruited her to help out.

She paid a price for her activism. Hamer was fired from her job for attempting to register to vote. She was beaten, arrested and subjected to constant death threats.

Yet seasoned civil rights workers were impressed with her courage. Hamer even co-founded a new political party in Mississippi as part of her work to desegregate the state’s Democratic Party.

Hamer spoke at the 1964 Democratic Convention about the brutal conditions Blacks faced while trying to vote in Mississippi. Her televised testimony was so riveting that President Lyndon B. Johnson forced the networks to break away by calling a last-minute press conference. Johnson was afraid Hamer’s eloquence would alienate Southern Democrats who supported segregation.

“I guess if I’d had any sense, I’da been a little scared,” Hamer said later about that night.

“But what was the point of being scared?” she added. “The only thing the whites could do was kill me, and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.”

—Alaa Elassar, CNN Photo: William J. Smith / Associated Press

Paul Robeson

One of Broadway’s most acclaimed Othellos

Paul Robeson was a true Renaissance man – an athlete, actor, author, lawyer, singer and activist whose talent was undeniable and whose outspokenness almost killed his career.

An All-American football star at Rutgers University, where he was class valedictorian, Robeson earned a law degree at Columbia and worked for a New York City law firm until he quit in protest over its racism.

In the 1920s, he turned to the theater, where his commanding presence landed him lead roles in Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” and “The Emperor Jones.” He later sang “Ol’ Man River,” which became his signature tune, in stage and film productions of “Show Boat.”

Robeson performed songs in at least 25 different languages and became one of the most famous concert singers of his time, developing a large following in Europe.

He was perhaps best known for performing the title role in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” which he reprised several times. One production in 1943-44, co-starring Uta Hagen and Jose Ferrer, became the longest-running Shakespeare play in Broadway history.

Robeson also became a controversial figure for using his celebrity to advance human rights causes around the world. His push for social justice clashed with the repressive climate of the 1950s, and he was blacklisted. He stopped performing, his passport was revoked and his songs disappeared from the radio for years.

“The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery,” Robeson once said. “I have made my choice. I had no alternative.”

—Alaa Elassar, CNN Photo: Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Constance Baker Motley

The first Black woman to argue before the Supreme Court

Constance Baker Motley graduated from her Connecticut high school with honors, but her parents, immigrants from the Caribbean, couldn’t afford to pay for college. So Motley, a youth activist who spoke at community events, made her own good fortune.

A philanthropist heard one of her speeches and was so impressed he paid for her to attend NYU and Columbia Law School. And a brilliant legal career was born.

Motley became the lead trial attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and began arguing desegregation and fair housing cases across the country. The person at the NAACP who hired her? Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Motley wrote the legal brief for the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, which struck down racial segregation in American public schools. Soon she herself was arguing before the Supreme Court – the first Black woman to do so.

Over the years she successfully represented Martin Luther King Jr., Freedom Riders, lunch-counter protesters and the Birmingham Children Marchers. She won nine of the 10 cases that she argued before the high court.

“I rejected any notion that my race or sex would bar my success in life,” Motley wrote in her memoir, “Equal Justice Under Law.”

After leaving the NAACP, Motley continued her trailblazing path, becoming the first Black woman to serve in the New York state Senate and later the first Black woman federal judge. Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, has cited her as an inspiration.

—Nicole Chavez, CNN Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Charles Richard Drew

The father of the blood bank

Anyone who has ever had a blood transfusion owes a debt to Charles Richard Drew, whose immense contributions to the medical field made him one of the most important scientists of the 20th century.

Drew helped develop America’s first large-scale blood banking program in the 1940s, earning him accolades as “the father of the blood bank.”

Drew won a sports scholarship for football and track and field at Amherst College, where a biology professor piqued his interest in medicine. At the time, racial segregation limited the options for medical training for African Americans, leading Drew to attend med school at McGill University in Montréal.

He then became the first Black student to earn a medical doctorate from Columbia University, where his interest in the science of blood transfusions led to groundbreaking work separating plasma from blood. This made it possible to store blood for a week – a huge breakthrough for doctors treating wounded soldiers in World War II.

In 1940, Drew led an effort to transport desperately needed blood and plasma to Great Britain, then under attack by Germany. The program saved countless lives and became a model for a Red Cross pilot program to mass-produce dried plasma.

Ironically, the Red Cross at first excluded Black people from donating blood, making Drew ineligible to participate. That policy was later changed, but the Red Cross segregated blood donations by race, which Drew criticized as “unscientific and insulting.”

Drew also pioneered the bloodmobile — a refrigerated truck that collected, stored and transported blood donations to where they were needed.

After the war he taught medicine at Howard University and its hospital, where he fought to break down racial barriers for Black physicians.

—Sydney Walton, CNN Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images


Robinson, Dr. Jane Bancroft (1847-1932)

Taken from A Woman of the Century: Fourteen hundred-seventy biographical sketches accompanied by portraits of leading American women in all walks of life by Frances Willard and Mary Livermore

Jane Bancroft Robinson, daughter of a Methodist minister, studied in the United States, Switzerland, and France, earning many degrees, including a Ph.D. She was professor of French Literature and Language at Northwestern University and dean of its Woman’s College from 1878 to 1885. She married George O. Robinson in 1891.

While studying in Europe, Jane Bancroft become interested in the deaconess movement and her research in this area contributed greatly to the establishment of the deaconess movement in America. She chaired the first Committee on Deaconess Work established by the Women’s Home Missionary Society. She later published a book entitle Deaconesses in Europe and Their Lessons for America.

An articulate speaker, Jane’s presentations on behalf of the deaconess work encouraged William J. Sibley to provide funds for a hospital (1894) to be erected in connection with the Lucy Webb Hayes Training School, which was founded by the WHMS in 1890. Through Mrs. Robinson’s encouragement, the George O. Robinson School in Puerto Rico was begun. She was an alternate delegate to the 1932 General Conference from the Southern California Conference. When Jane Bancroft Robinson died, her home at Pasadena, California, was given to the church as a home for retired missionaries. It was named “Robincroft.”

Taken from They Went Out Not Knowing… An Encyclopedia of One Hundred Women in Mission (New York: Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 1986). Used with permission of United Methodist Women.


Robinson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Robinson is an ancient Anglo-Saxon name that is derived from the baptismal name Robin, which was the diminutive of the personal name Robert. Patronymic surnames arose out of the vernacular and religious given name traditions.

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Early Origins of the Robinson family

The surname Robinson was first found in Yorkshire, where one of the first records of the name was John Richard Robunson who was on record in 1324 in the Court Rolls of the manor of Wakefield. Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Roger Robynsoun Roger Robyn-man (the servant of Robin) and Adam Robyn-man (the servant of Robin), 1370. [1]

The surname is "distributed all over England, except in the south - west, where it is either absent or extremely rare. Its great home is in the northern half of the country, the numbers rapidly diminishing as we approach the south of England. Northamptonshire may be characterised as the most advanced stronghold of the Robinsons on their way to the metropolis." [2]

Further to the north in Scotland, early entries are rare, so one can presume the name migrated there at some point: "the tenement of John Robynson in Irvine is mentioned in 1426, and another John Robynsone was bailie of Glasgow in 1477. Andrew Robersoun witnessed the sale of a tenement in Arbroath in 1450. The name was common in Glasgow in the sixteenth century." [3]

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Early History of the Robinson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Robinson research. Another 80 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1585, 1584, 1655, 1566, 1584, 1576, 1625, 1610, 1669, 1614, 1655, 1615, 1680, 1660, 1667, 1662, 1629, 1689, 1660, 1668, 1717, 1705, 1708, 1645, 1712, 1670, 1700, 1670, 1684, 1686, 1700, 1701 and are included under the topic Early Robinson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Robinson Spelling Variations

Robinson has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Many variations of the name Robinson have been found, including Robinson, Robenson, Robbison, Robbinson, McRobin and others.

Early Notables of the Robinson family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Nicholas Robinson (Died 1585) Welsh Bishop of Bangor, born at Conway in North Wales and his son, Hugh Robinson (1584-1655), Welsh Archdeacon of Gloucester, born in Anglesea Clement Robinson ( fl. 1566-1584), an English song-writer and editor John Robinson (1576-1625), known as the "Pilgrim Pastor," who was the first pastor and inspiration to the church of the Pilgrim Fathers Luke Robinson (c 1610-1669), of Riseborough, an English Member of Parliament and of the Council of State during the Commonwealth period Ralph.
Another 85 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Robinson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Robinson family to Ireland

Some of the Robinson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 159 words (11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Robinson migration +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Robinson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Robinson, who immigrated to Virginia in 1606
  • Isaac and Bridget Robinson, who arrived in Plymouth in 1629
  • Constance Robinson, who landed in New England in 1634 [4]
  • Goodwyn John Robinson, who landed in Maryland in 1637 [4]
  • Daniell Robinson, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1651 [4]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Robinson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George Robinson, who landed in Virginia in 1706 [4]
  • David Robinson, who arrived in South Carolina in 1716 [4]
  • Anne Robinson, who landed in Virginia in 1717 [4]
  • Catherine and Charles Robinson, who settled in Virginia in 1730
  • James Robinson, who settled in Virginia in 1775
Robinson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Aistroppe Robinson, who arrived in New York, NY in 1804 [4]
  • Barber Robinson, aged 5, who arrived in New York, NY in 1804 [4]
  • Hugh Robinson, who landed in America in 1809 [4]
  • Isabella Robinson, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [4]
  • Gilbert Robinson, aged 50, who arrived in New York in 1812 [4]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Robinson migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Robinson Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
Robinson Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Charles Robinson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Ben j Robinson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1760
  • Edward Robinson, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1774
  • Hannah Robinson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1774
  • Elizabeth Robinson, aged 30, who arrived in Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia in 1775
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Robinson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Robinson, who emigrated from County Tipperary, Ireland to St. John's, Newfoundland in 1831 [5]
  • George Robinson, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Joseph Robinson, aged 13, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Bess Robinson, aged 18, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Sarah Robinson, aged 17, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the schooner "Sarah" from Belfast, Ireland
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Robinson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Robinson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Elizabeth Robinson, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Canada" in March 1810, arriving in New South Wales, Australia[6]
  • Miss Jane Robinson, (b. 1782), aged 30, English servant who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Emu" in October 1812, the ship was captured and the passengers put ashore, the convicts were then transported aboard the "Broxburnebury" in January 1812 arriving in New South Wales, Australia[7]
  • Robert Robinson, English convict from Kent, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia[8]
  • Mr. James Robinson, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Canada" on 23rd April 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia[6]
  • Mr. Charles Robinson, British Convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Robinson migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:


Watch the video: I am a woman of distinction - Janne Robinson