Skip to main content

Emmett E. Robinson papers

Identifier: Mss 0039

Collection Overview

Papers consist of biographical information, correspondence, projects and writings, plays, class materials, musical scores, assorted slides, scrapbooks, photographs, and audiovisual materials relating to Emmett Robinson, actor, designer, managing director of the Footlight Players Theatre, and professor of drama and fine arts at the College of Charleston. Papers include assorted biographical materials including a Robinson family chronology, family photographs, obituaries and memorials, and assorted clippings. There are also letters to Robinson from author Dubose Heyward, actress and artist Alicia Rhett, and correspondence re personal and family news between Robinson and costume designer Anna Hill Johnstone Robinson. Also included are his writings on community theatre, play and television scripts, assorted materials relating to the "Alloys for Steel" documentary for the Pittsburgh Metallurgical Company, sketches and exhibit designs, and financial records relating to the Footlight Players Theatre including operating expenses and ticket stub reports. There are also various materials relating to Footlight Players Theatre, Dock Street Theatre, Mohawk Drama Festival, and the Dramatic Society of the College of Charleston stage productions including scripts annotated with stage notes and directions, set design and production sketches, production and rehearsal schedules, production stills, assorted printed ephemera including Footnotes newsletters, clippings, and flyers, and musical scores. Also included are materials relating to Robinson's teaching career at the College of Charleston including syllabi, exercises, teaching notes and lecture materials on acting, stage and costume design, art appreciation, and theatre history as well as slides on the history of design, costumes, painting, and Charleston architecture. There are also scrapbooks containing playbills, clippings, and production stills of plays staged by the Dramatic Society of the College of Charleston, the Footlight Players, and the Peruchi's Theatre Art Group. Scrapbooks also contain photographs and copies of documents pertaining to the restoration and opening of Dock Street Theatre, photostats of engravings depicting the interiors and exteriors of several English theaters, and typewritten excerpts from various books about the American theater and English and American stage actors. Also included are six "Theatre Record" scrapbooks assembled by Helen Gladys Clarkson. Each volume contains an index and includes performance attendance, play, theatre date, seats, program, pictures of actors, and newspaper clippings of New York City plays. There are also assorted black and white photographs of Footlight Players Theatre actors and actresses and assorted oversize materials including pencil sketches of Prometheus and Mercury, Adam and Eve, the College of Charleston mace, the Crucifixion of Christ, St. Francis of Assisi, and Cypress Gardens and Capers Island as well as watercolor portraits of Robinson, a Hiddy Doddy back drop gouache and watercolor sketch, and a black and white photograph of Damicia Robinson, Nancy Stevenson, and Faye Solomon in Much Ado About Nothing. There are also audiovisual materials consisting of 51 color and black and white 16 millimeter films of assorted stage productions and family films.


  • Creation: 1886-1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1988


Language of Material

Materials in English

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Emmett E. Robinson was born in 1914 in Ocala, Florida, and moved to Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1920s. He graduated from the College of Charleston in 1935 and received his Master's degree from Yale University in 1941. He also studied theatre in France and Great Britain under a Rockefeller fellowship. As an actor, artist, director, and stage and costume designer, Robinson became the managing director of the Footlight Players, a Charleston community theatre group, in 1935. He was also involved in the restoration of the Dock Street Theatre in 1937 and first began teaching classes at the College of Charleston in 1942. In 1972, he was appointed professor of fine arts, and in 1982, became professor emeritus. Robinson was also elected to the corporate membership at the American National Theatre and Academy, and was assistant director for the Mohawk Drama Festival at Schenectady, New York. As a consultant for the Charleston Museum, he was appointed by the South Carolina Tricentennial Commission to direct the reconstruction of the original South Carolina settlement at Old Towne Plantation. He died in Charleston in 1988.


22.0 linear feet (17 cartons, 1 card file box, 2 oversize boxes, 51 sixteen millimeter film reels)


Collection consists of the papers of Emmett E. Robinson, managing director of the Footlight Players Theatre from 1935 to 1977 and professor of fine arts and theatre at the College of Charleston from 1942 to 1982. Papers include assorted biographical materials, writings on community theatre, play and television scripts, and exhibit designs. Also included are materials relating to Footlight Players Theatre, Dock Street Theatre, Mohawk Drama Festival, and Dramatic Society of the College of Charleston stage productions including photographs, scripts, set design sketches, production and rehearsal schedules, financial materials, and musical scores. Papers also include syllabi, class exercises, teaching notes, and lecture materials on acting, stage and costume design, art appreciation, and theatre history. Also included are assorted 16 millimeter films of stage productions and home movies.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Biographical materials, 1886-1991
  2. Correspondence, 1935-1968
  3. Projects and writings, 1930-1982
  4. Plays, 1931-1983
  5. Teaching materials, 1925-1988
  6. Musical scores, 1943-1976
  7. Slides, 1963-1987
  8. Scrapbooks, 1930-1946, 1983
  9. Miscellaneous, 1904-1914, 1941-1977
  10. Photographs, 1934-1970
  11. Helen Gladys Clarkson, 1904-1933
  12. Oversize materials, 1952-1986
  13. Audio visual materials, 1927-1972

Acquisitions Information

Source and date of initial acquisition unknown. Additional materials were donated in 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2009 by Jennet Robinson Alterman. Additional materials were transferred in 2007 to Special Collections from the College of Charleston Drama Department.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include the Footlight Players Collection (Mss 0016) and the Patricia Anne Colbert Robinson Papers (Mss 0107).

Processing Information

Processed by Marie Ferrara, date unknown.

Inventory of the Emmett E. Robinson Papers, 1886-1991
Processed by: Marie Ferrara; machine-readable finding aid created by: Joshua Minor
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)