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Robert K. Richardson papers

Identifier: MC 90

Scope and Contents

While Richardson's collection is extensive in size, the types of materials within it are somewhat limited. This collection primarily focuses on Robert K. Richardson, but a significant portion of the collection pertains to the history of Beloit College. Numerous letters and photographs, and some genealogical information, cover Richardson's personal life, leaving speeches, publications, and class lectures to demonstrate his professional work. In regards to his History of Beloit College, there are multiple drafts and manuscripts of the actual text and hundreds of notes and citations referenced in his History. Many of these notes are simply bits of information or citations about where to find information, rather than Richardson's original work. He takes notes of everything from Greek life and vivisection, to alumni and laymen trustees of the college, compiling a wide variety of information citations in the effort of writing his book.


  • 1821-1970

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research; however, certain materials are very fragile and require Archives staff for handling, or use may be restricted altogether.

Biographical / Historical

Modified from: unknown newspaper clipping, article by Walter Strong.

Robert K. Richardson, 1876-1952, was as a professor of history at Beloit College from 1901 until his retirement in 1947. He continued to be active in college affairs after his retirement as Professor Emeritus, however. Over the course of his education, he attended the Hotchkiss School, Yale, and Columbia, receiving his doctorate from Yale in 1902.

Richardson married twice over the course of his life, leaving no children. In 1903 he married Bessie Clark Perkins who later died in 1936. He married Helen L. Drew in 1940, a professor at Rockford College who became active in Beloit College activities, even serving as an English professor for a while.

In addition to being a beloved teacher and prolific writer, Richardson also took on the role of college archivist and historian. He held this post after retirement, and received help from his wife, Helen, in managing the collections. Richardson created the Beloit College Archives in 1920. After the death of Helen Brace Emerson, Richardson was informed by a historian from Janesville about a collection of letters in the Emerson house, which he immediately transported to his house. Since then, the collection has moved several times.

Beyond his many activities in the college he also had other interests. He served as the president for the Wisconsin State Historical Society from 1946 to 1949 and as curator for more than 25 years. Many of his articles were also published in the Historical Society's bulletins. He joined the First Congregational Church in 1903 and served there in many capacities. He was also a charter member of the Lions Club of Beloit and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.


17 Linear Feet (39 boxes)

Language of Materials



Robert K. Richardson served as a history professor for Beloit College in the early to mid-20th century, using a significant portion of his time to establish and manage the Beloit College archives. Additionally, with much help from his wife, he spent his retirement writing a revised and updated History of Beloit College. This collection represents the extensive work he did for that publication, as well as Richardson's personal life and career in higher education.

Related Materials


Robert Kimball Richardson, 1876-1952. Ed. Helen L.D. Richardson. Beloit, WI: 1958.
Robert K. Richardson papers
Alice Mitchell'13
March, 2013
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Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections, Beloit, WI Repository

700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA