Collection inventory

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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.

Finding aid created by: MRR
Date: 24 Jul 2006

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.

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.


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.

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

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)



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

Table of Contents

Biographical material

Correspondence-subject files

Clippings and articles



Printed material