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Robert J. Blakely Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

The adult education holdings are collectively known as the
Alexander N. Charters Library of Resources for Educators of Adults.

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Blakely, Robert J.
Title: Robert J. Blakely Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1936-1992
Bulk Dates: 1960-1980
Quantity: 2.25 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of journalist, writer and professor of adult education Robert J. Blakely. The majority of the collection consists of Blakely's writing and includes books, papers, speeches, presentations, articles and essays. There is also a small amount of correspondence and printed material, and the transcript of an interview. Organizations represented include the Fund for Adult Education and the MacArthur Foundation.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Robert J. Blakely (1915-1994) was a journalist, writer and professor of adult education at the University of Iowa and Syracuse University. He was closely involved with the Fund for Adult Education (FAE), serving as Vice-President of the FAE and as director of its Test Cities project and acting as liaison between the FAE and various education, labor, agriculture and government agencies. He authored numerous articles and several books on adult education and contributed chapters to others, as well as a number of booklets for the Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults (CSLEA). His Earl B. Dickerson: A Voice for Freedom and Equality, a biography of the African American lawyer and civil rights activist, was published in 2006.

Blakely and his wife Alta had three children: Susan, Steve and Craig.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert J. Blakely Papers provides a broad overview of the interests and activities of the noted journalist and educator, ranging from his involvement with the Fund for Adult Education to his thoughts on human values, mass media, and the relationship between education and a free society.

Biographical material contains c.v.'s and Who's Who entries, a few clippings about Blakely, correspondence with family, and some personal writings by Blakely (wedding toasts, eulogies for family members) as well as some medical articles written by his daughter, Susan Shurin, and father-in-law, Park J. White. Correspondence-subject files contains correspondence from and information on a variety of adult education individuals, organizations and topics, including Alexander N. Charters, J. Roby Kidd, the Fund for Adult Education, the MacArthur Foundation, and job analysis in health care. Clippings and articles contains a miscellaneous assortment of newspaper and magazine items, some on adult education and some on other topics. Conferences is divided into two sub-series: those where Blakely appeared on the program as a featured speaker, and those where he did not. In some cases the text of speech(es) is included, in other cases only the program listing.

Writings comprises the bulk of the collection. These include articles published in various magazines and journals; biographical sketches of Cyril O. Houle, A.A. Liveright, and Lyman Bryson; books and book chapters authored or edited by Blakely; papers and speeches; and the transcript of an interview. Of particular interest are those items that illuminate Blakely's philosophy, such as Adult Education in a Free Society, "The Free Individual and the Free Society," "Human Values for Human Beings," and Blakely's presentation at the Sixth Annual Pecan Hill Seminar on Values, "What Are Values? An Historical Overview of Changing Moods."

Printed material comprises material from various adult education organizations, some of which have more or less detailed marginalia by Blakely that gives some insight into his opinions. Also included here are several issues of "Memo from Syracuse" by Alexander N. Charters.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

A few books not directly bearing on Blakely or his writings, such as a biography of J. Roby Kidd by Nancy J. Cochrane, have been removed for separate cataloging.

The library holds a considerable number of collections related to adult and continuing education. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing. The following may be of particular interest:

Joseph W. Jacques Papers - contains an interview with Blakely
Fund for Adult Education Records

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Subject Headings


Blakely, Robert J.
Bryson, Lyman, 1888-1959.
Houle, Cyril Orvin, 1913-
Kidd, J. R. (James Robbins), 1915-1982.
Liveright, A. A. (Alexander Albert), 1907-
Sheats, Paul H., 1907-
Whipple, James B.

Corporate Bodies

Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
World University.


Adult education -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Programs (documents)
Speeches (documents)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Robert J. Blakely Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Robert Blakely

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRR
Date: 24 Jul 2006
Revision history: 17 Aug 2006 - minor updates to subject headings during Voyager import (MRR)

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Biographical material
Box 1 C.v.’s, Who’s Who entries 1985, undated
Box 1 Clippings about 1986, 1987
Box 1 Coral Gables house documents 1976-1977
Box 1 Eulogies, toasts, etc by RJB 1979, 1987, 1989, undated
Box 1 Family correspondence 1984 1987, undated
Box 1 Medical articles by Susan Shurin (daughter) and Park J. White (father in law) 1983
Box 1 Miscellaneous
Correspondence-subject files
Box 1 AAACE 1984
Barton, George E.
See Whipple, James B.
Box 1 Charters, Alexander N. 1972, 1981
See also Memo from Syracuse, Syracuse University Publications in Continuing Education (SUPCE)
Box 1 Computer Research Inc. 1968
Box 1 Daniel, Sandra 1989
Box 1 Delker, Paul 1975 - includes copy of speech by David Harman
Box 1 Edelson, Paul 1992 - includes copy of speech, "Socrates on the Assembly Line"
Box 1 Fund for Adult Education, Test Cities Project 1969 - includes outline for history of FAE
Box 1 Harman, David
See Delker, Paul
Box 1 Hiemstra, Roger 1975
Box 1 Houle, Cyril O. 1980
Box 1 Institute of Communications Research 1976
Box 1 Institute for Social Research (University of Michigan) 1972
Box 1 Job analysis in health care 1969 1971, undated - includes several papers by various authors
Box 1 Kidd, J. Roby 1982 - includes eulogy by RJB
Luke, Robert
See Fund for Adult Education
Box 1 MacArthur Foundation 1979-1981, undated
Box 1 McNeil, Donald R. undated - includes speech given by McNeil at NUEA
Box 1 National Advisory Council on Adult Education 1975
Box 1 Northern Illinois University 1980
Box 1 Selden, William 1972
Box 1 Sequoyah Birthplace Museum undated
Box 1 Sheats, Paul H. 1984 - includes eulogy by RJB
Box 1 Syracuse University Publications in Continuing Education (SUPCE) 1972-1973
Box 1 TIAA-CREF 1990
Box 1 University of California, Davis 1980
Box 1 University of Illinois 1967, 1987 - includes copy of a speech written by RJB for Theodore A. Jones, Trustee of the University, and a number of letters praising and/or requesting copies of it
Box 1 Whipple, James B. 1960 - includes copy of paper by George E. Barton, "Liberal Education and the Practical Man"
Box 1 World University 1976-1977
Clippings and articles
Box 2 Miscellaneous 1936, 1965, 1971 , 1972, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1991, undated - includes lengthy essay by Alfred North Whitehead, originally published in 1936 in The Atlantic, misc clippings and photocopies of items of interest
Blakely on program
Box 2 Changing Attitudes in a Changing World (speaker, "The Copernican Revolution in Attitudes") 1958 - program, including texts of presentations
Box 2 Conference on Continuing Education for Physicians’ Associates, (speaker, "Continuing Education in the Health Professions") May 1975 - program and notes
Box 2 Illinois Adult Education Program (speaker) Apr 1968 - program only
Box 2 Institute of World Affairs, 46th Session (speaker, "The Triangulation of Truth") Apr 1968 - program only
Box 2 Sixth Annual Pecan Hill Seminar on Values (opening speaker, "What are Values? An Historical Overview of Changing Moods") May 1984 - program only
Blakely not on program
Box 2 Appalachian Trade Union Conference Oct 1964 - proceedings
Community Leadership Institute Jul 1972 - "The Making of Decisions," a selection of readings, plus a collection of eight humorous poems written by Blakely during the institute
Box 2 Conference on Higher Adult Education in the South Feb 1961 - proceedings
Box 2 Conference on Interprofessional Continuing Education in the Health Sciences 1972 - proceedings
Box 2 Leadership Training Institute of the Fund for Adult Education Jul 1956 - "What Is Liberal Education?" a selection of readings
Box 2 Sixth Conference of the Public Affairs Conference Center Mar 1963 - "100 Years of Emancipation," a selection of essays
Box 2 The Living State (Symposium) Oct 1962 - proceedings, including text of speeches
Box 3 "The Education of Adults: Worldwide Changes and Prospects." Continuing Higher Education Summer 1980
Box 3 "Human Values for Human Beings" Adult Leadership Feb 1967
Box 3 "Is Adult Education Developing as a Profession?" Continuous Learning Jul-Aug 1966
Box 3 "The Lonely Youth of Suburbia." The PTA Magazine Apr 1961
Box 3 "The Next Human Nature." Adult Leadership Jan 1961, and The Western Humanities Review Summer 1961 (reprint)
Box 3 "Nineteen Eighty (Not Nineteen Eighty Four)." Farm Policy Forum, Fall 1959
Box 3 "Stephen Hayes Bush." Iowa Alumni Review Apr 1948
Box 3 "Where are We Going in Efforts to Improve Communities?" Adult Leadership May 1974
Box 3 "The Wit to Win" ALA Bulletin Feb 1967, and Maryland Libraries Fall 1966
Biographical sketches (possibly intended for publication)
Box 3 Bryson, Lyman
Box 3 Houle, Cyril O.
Box 3 Liveright, Alexander A. ("Sandy") - includes notes and clippings
Books and book chapters
Box 3 Adult Education in a Free Society. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1969. (with Ivan M. Lappin)
Box 3 Agenda for Comparative Studies in Adult Education: Report from the International Expert Meeting. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1972. (editor)
Box 3 "The Citizen and the Mass Media." in Henry, Nelson B.(ed) Mass Media and Education. Chicago, Illinois: National Society for the Study of Education, 1954.
Box 3, 4 Fostering the Growing Need to Learn. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1969. (4 volumes, editor)
Box 4 "The Free Individual and the Free Society" in Goldwin, Robert A. (ed) Toward the Liberally Educated Executive. White Plains, NY: Fund for Adult Education, 1959
Box 4 How to Read a Newspaper: A Guidebook. Field Enterprises Inc., 1967.
Box 4 "Introduction" in Charters, Alexander N. (ed) Toward the Educative Society. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1971.
Box 4 Knowledge is Power to Control Power. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1969. (with Ivan M. Lappin)
Box 4 "Shaping the Future" in Blakely, Robert J. The People’s Instrument. Washington DC: Public Affairs Press, 1971 - Blakely was the author of the entire book but the collection contains only a photocopy of a single chapter
Box 4 Toward a Homeodynamic Society. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1972.
Box 4 The Use of Instructional Television in Adult Education. Syracuse, NY: SUPCE, 1974.
Box 4 "I’m Beginning to Think Like the Bird, or, Social and Philosophical Issues in the Use of Mass Media in Adult Education"
Box 4 "Dr. Samuel Johnson Against the Background of 18th Century British Philosophy and Religion" (presented to the Boswell Club of Chicago) May 1967
Box 4 "How Does Short-Term Learning Fulfill Societal Needs?" (presented to the Conferences and Institutes Division of the National University Extension Association Pre-Conference Meeting) 1967
Box 4 "A Rationale for the International League for Social Commitment in Adult Education"
Box 4 State University of Iowa Extension Bulletin #777 and #793, Iowa City, IA. 1961
See also Correspondence-subject files: University of Illinois
Box 4 "The 'Futurization' of Life: Anticipating and Creating the Future." Iowa Association of School Boards, Des Moines, IA Nov 1961
Box 4 "The Educative Role of the Labor Leader." Labor Education Divisions of Roosevelt University graduation ceremonies, Chciago, IL Jun 1966
Box 4 "The Mass Media – Whose Responsibility?" Thornton Public School Association, Harvey, IL 1967
Box 4 "The New Thebes." Adult Education Council of Greater Cleveland annual meeting, Cleveland, OH Apr 1966
Box 4 "The New Tithing." Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA May 1968
Box 4 "Remarks: Remembrances of A. Craig Baird." A. Craig Baird Reunion, Iowa City, IA Apr 1990
Box 4 "The Search for Meaning and Value." 10th Annual Seminar on Leadership in University Adult Education, Lansing, MI Feb 1967
Box 4 "The Thistle." Great Lakes Regional Conference on Adult Basic Education (keynote address) Feb 1966
Box 4 "To Distinguish the Good," Newspaper in the Classroom workshop, Waterloo, ONT Jul 1967
Box 4 "We Immigrants in Time – and Our Children." American Library Association, Atlantic City, NJ Jun 1969
Box 5 Transcript of interview Jun 1973 - includes discussions of Ford Foundation, Fund for Adult Education, A.A. Liveright, Cyril Houle, James Whipple
Box 5 Notes and fragments
Printed material
Box 5 "Memo from Syracuse," no’s 1-8, notes
Box 5 Miscellaneous - printed material from various adult education organizations, some with detailed margin notes by Blakely

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