Doane Robinson Collection
Jonah Leroy (Doane) Robinson (1856-1946) was secretary of the South Dakota State Historical Society and superintendent of the State Department of History from 1901 to 1926. As superintendent of the Department of History, he served as head of the state library, vital statistics bureau, and legislative reference division. He also collected the items, which formed the basis for the Robinson Museum, and the state Portrait Gallery. In his official capacities, Robinson collected and published historical, economic, and census information.
The Doane Robinson Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, poetry, genealogical data, census and related statistics, and miscellaneous papers. Robinson's personal papers can not be separated from his official papers. The correspondence files, as well as the research and manuscript files, contain both Department of History business with personal affairs.
The organization of these papers is complicated and should be thoroughly understood before the collection is used. Robinson's letters remained after he left the Department of History in 1926. Many letters and manuscripts were disseminated into the library's shelves and others became vertical file material. A large portion of the his correspondence remains intact in this collection, but much of the correspondence was filed in Department of History files. Finally, one large box of correspondence was stored in a back room, out of sight for many years.
To further complicate matters, Robinson continued to work with his historical data after retiring. In fact, he took over the Department of History again briefly in 1946. His papers from this twenty-year period are also included in the collection. In the 80 years since Robinson's retirement, and the 60 years since his death, this mass of material has been filed and refiled so many times that it has totally lost its original organizational structure.
The attempt to make this collection as useful as possible while recognizing "original order" has resulted in a somewhat awkward arrangement. This pertains especially to the correspondence files. Files have been kept, whenever possible, in the format in which they were found when the collection was processed. Consequently, some general correspondence files are arranged chronologically. But the greater part of the correspondence is filed alphabetically, either by name of correspondent, or by subject.