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Abraham Robinson papers

Call Number: MS 826

Scope and Contents

The Abraham Robinson Papers consist of correspondence, writings, and memorabilia, which document the professional career of Abraham Robinson. The papers also include a smaller quantity of personal and family papers. Manuscripts and printed copies of Robinson's articles and books comprise the bulk of the papers. There is very little correspondence in the papers, most of which dates from the last few years of Robinson's life. Renee Robinson donated her husband's papers to the Yale University Library between 1976 and 1993.
Series I, WRITINGS, begins with the three volume printed copy of Selected Papers of Abraham Robinson. The folders following these volumes contain manuscripts, printed copies, and notes for the many books and papers by Robinson. The folders are arranged in order according to the bibliography published in Selected Papers,with books coming first, papers next, followed by films, and encyclopaedia articles. Numbers in parentheses following the titles of papers refer to the numbers in the published bibliography. Each numbered paper on the bibliography is represented in Series I.

At the end of the series are folders which contain writings not listed in the bibliography. These include book reviews by Robinson, manuscripts, print or near print items, and notes, as well as course material from the several institutions at which Robinson taught. The book reviews come first, followed by the other unlisted writings. The titles for these writings are derived from notes or labels on the manuscripts. They are arranged in chronological order. Course materials, including lecture notes and examination questions, are arranged at the very end of the series and are identified by institution and course title where possible.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE AND OTHER PAPERS BY AND ABOUT ABRAHAM ROBINSON, includes all papers, other than writings, donated to the Yale University Library. These include materials created by Robinson as well as family records collected by him. In addition there are materials about Robinson collected by Mrs. Robinson to document the life and achievements of her husband and to facilitate the work of those compiling the biographical and analytical sections in Selected Papers of Abraham Robinson.

The series begins with Robinson's correspondence, most of which dates from the last decade of Robinson's life. Correspondence is in English, Hebrew, and German. References to Robinson's publications are included in the exchanges with publishers and co-authors. There is also correspondence relating to Robinson's work with professional organizations, notably the Association for Symbolic Logic, letters concerning professional appointments under the names of various institutions, and invitations to deliver papers at other institutions and conferences.

The remainder of the series is arranged alphabetically by record type. Some of this material such as notecards concerning mathematical bibliography, programs and announcements for Robinson's lectures, reviews of Robinson's published work, and honors and award certificates, diplomas and citations, dates from Robinson's lifetime. Of particular interest are diaries Robinson kept. In one from 1933, written in German, Robinson recorded the experience of fleeing Nazi Germany, from Breslau to Berlin, Munich, and then to Italy. In a second diary or reminiscence, written in Hebrew, Robinson recorded his impressions of life in France during the winter of 1940 and then of his escape to England after the Nazi invasion in June. Other papers in Robinson's hand include student notes in German and Hebrew. Several documents including identity cards and military orders date from Robinson's service with the Free French and British military forces.

Other material in the series dates from after Robinson's death in 1974. This material includes correspondence of Mrs. Robinson, letters of condolence, reminiscences of Abraham Robinson, and programs and remarks from memorial services, dedication ceremonies, and conferences in memory of Abraham Robinson. Published material which refers to Abraham Robinson's life and work, both from his lifetime and after his death, is also collected in this series.


  • 1918-1988


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Renee Robinson, 1976-1992; and acquired from the Jewish National and University Library, 1993.


Arranged in two series: I. Writings. II. Correspondence and Other Papers.


6.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence and writings which document Abraham Robinson's professional life and work. Draft and printed copies of Robinson's books and papers comprise the bulk of the papers. Student memorabilia, diaries, and biographical material are also included in the papers.

Biographical / Historical

Abraham Robinson was born on October 6, 1918, in Waldenburg, Germany. His father Abraham Robinsohn was a writer, philosopher, and ardent Zionist, who died just prior to his son's birth. The family moved to Breslau in 1925, and when Robinson was fourteen, he emigrated with his mother Hedwig Lotte Robinsohn and brother Saul to Palestine. He was a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1936-1939, where he studied mathematics with Abraham Fraenkel.

In 1939 Robinson won a scholarship to the Sorbonne to continue his studies, but soon after his arrival in Paris the Nazis invaded France. Robinson escaped to England, where he volunteered for the Free French Air Force. In January, 1942, he joined the British forces and was appointed scientific officer in the Ministry of Aircraft Production. He was assigned to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. Robinson's work was in the Structures and Mechanical Engineering Department and later in the Aerodynamics Department. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Renee Kopel. They were married on January 30, 1944.

In 1946 Robinson joined the staff of the newly established College of Aeronautics at Cranfield as a senior lecturer in charge of the teaching of mathematics. His work and publications to this date had qualified him to receive a M.Sc. degree from the Hebrew University. During the immediate post-war years, Robinson was also working on a thesis, "The Metamathematics of Algebraic Systems," under the supervision of P. Dienes of Birkbeck College. Robinson received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1949. From this time on Robinson's research was directed less towards aeronautics and more towards logic and mathematical foundations.

In 1950 Robinson became the deputy head of the department of aerodynamics at the College of Aeronautics, but he left there in 1951 to become an associate professor in the department of applied mathematics at the University of Toronto. In 1956 he was named professor and chairman of the department. His teaching involved a graduate course on wing theory as well as courses in fluid dynamics and partial differential equations. He also continued writing a book on wing theory with a former student J. A. Laurmann, which was published in 1956. His research in logic led to the publication of Theorie Metamematique des Ideaux (1955) and Complete Theories(1956). Robinson also produced papers on model theory and its applications to the theory of algebraically closed fields.

From 1957 until 1962, Robinson taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, occupying the chair in mathematics of his teacher Professor Fraenkel. In Israel, as he did for most of the rest of his life, Robinson devoted himself almost entirely to pure mathematics. His work from his years in Jerusalem and from 1960-1961, which Robinson spent as a visiting professor at Princeton University, were early explorations in nonstandard analysis, a field in which Robinson did pioneering work, and resulted in the publication (1963) of Introduction to Model Theory and the Metamathematics of Algebra.

From the Hebrew University Robinson went on to teach as a professor of mathematics and philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles (1962-1967) and then as professor and Sterling Professor of mathematics at Yale University (1967-1974). At UCLA Robinson served on the university's Committe on Education Policy and was its chairman during the academic year 1964-1965. He was also a member of the Academic Council which conferred with the president of the University of California system concerning issues involving all nine campuses in the system. Numbers and Ideals (1965), Non-Standard Analysis (1966), and Contributions to Non-Standard Analysis(1972) along with numerous articles were published during these years.

From 1968-1970 Robinson served as president of the Association for Symbolic Logic. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972 and received the Brouwer Medal of the Dutch Mathematical Society in 1973. His election to the National Academy of Sciences was awarded posthumously after his untimely death on April 11, 1974.

For a fuller biography of Abraham Robinson and analysis of Robinson's contributions to applied and pure mathematics, the reader is advised to consult the introductory pages in each of the three volumes of Selected Papers of Abraham Robinson,edited by H. J. Keisler, S. Körner, W. A. J. Luxemburg, and A. D. Young, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979). The volumes are included in box 1 of the Abraham Robinson Papers.
Guide to the Abraham Robinson Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan
July 1990
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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