Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Alfred W. Robertson Papers
Dates: ca. 1906-1979
Bulk Dates: 1934-1959
Collection Number: Mss 106
Robertson, Alfred W.
1.3 linear feet
(1 document box, 3 oversize boxes, and 3 sound recordings)
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Abstract: Biographical files, correspondence, documents, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and sound recordings of a leading California
State Assembly member from Santa Barbara, responsible for introducing and leading support of a bill to authorize transfer
of Santa Barbara State College to the University of California system. Robertson Gym is named after him. He also authored
a bill limiting development of coastal oil drilling, and led a movement to reform the California state constitution.
Physical Location: Box 1 (Del Sur); Boxes 2-4 (Del Sur Oversize); Sound Recordings (Annex 2).
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
Alfred W. Robertson Papers. Mss 106. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa
Gift of Mrs. Alfred W. Robertson, ca, 1972-1980, and Willie M. Wilton, 1975.
Alfred Worcester Robertson was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire on June 29, 1889. His father, Samuel W. Robertson (1850-1938),
was an elementary school teacher who became a much-loved figure at the Santa Barbara High School after moving his family to
California in 1908. At that time, Alfred, who was throughout his life known as either "Bobby" or "Robbie," had completed his
freshman year at Dartmouth and transferred to Occidental College in Los Angeles so he could join his family on their move
west. He was very active in collegiate sports, participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He also appeared
in several school plays, and entered a number of oratorical contests. He went on to attend Stanford University, received his
Juris Doctor degree, and was admitted to the California bar in 1913. He established a law practice in Santa Barbara, where
he would live for the rest of his life. He also married his "college sweetheart," Edith Ireland, and their son Richard was
born in 1918.
Alfred W. Robertson was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1934, and from the beginning of his political career,
he sought to see the college in Santa Barbara become part of the University of California system. He took the first step toward
this goal in 1935, when he succeeded in passing an act that changed the school from a Teachers' College to a State College.
He continued to work toward this aim for many years, facing resistance from the UC Regents, who were opposed to adding schools
from the state college system into their network. However, Robertson quickly increased his power and influence, rising to
be the State Chairman of the Democratic Party during World War II. He enjoyed bipartisan popularity and was elected to six
additional terms to the state legislature, sometimes running without Republican opposition. Finally, in October 1943, the
UC Regents accepted his proposal, and the school became known as UCSBC - the University of California Santa Barbara College.
Also in 1943, Robertson met Marilyn Cooper (1903-1990), a journalist and professional singer. They were married in 1948, following
Robertson's divorce from his first wife. Sadly, Robertson suffered a massive heart attack in 1950, and would be in poor health
until his death on January 19, 1958. Marilyn Robertson championed her husband's memory and lobbied for a fitting memorial
on the campus that he helped create. On September 18, 1959, the Alfred W. Robertson Memorial Gymnasium was dedicated at UCSB.
Scope and Content of Collection
Papers of Alfred W. Robertson, a leading member of the California State Assembly from Santa Barbara, who served from 1934-1948.
Robertson was responsible for introducing and leading support of a bill to authorize transfer of Santa Barbara State College
to the University of California system. He also authored a bill limiting development of coastal oil drilling, and led a movement
to reform the California state constitution. The collection contains biographical files, correspondence, documents, clippings,
photographs, scrapbooks, and sound recordings, mainly relating to Robertson's legislative career and the posthumous naming
of UCSB's Robertson Gym in honor of his efforts on behalf of the university.
Abbreviations: AWR = Alfred W. Robertson
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Education -- California -- History.
California -- Politics and government.
Santa Barbara (Calif.) -- History, Local.
Robertson, Alfred W.
University of California, Santa Barbara.