Essays in Russian and Soviet History

Essays in Russian and Soviet History

Essays in Russian and Soviet History

Essays in Russian and Soviet History

Excerpt

The retirement of a professor after years of teaching and scholarly work is usually of concern to his colleagues of the university community and to the students whom he has taught. The rest of the world, however, takes little note of the event. But in the case of the retirement of Professor Geroid Tanquary Robinson, after a teaching career at Columbia University that began in 1924, there is a wider significance. Beginning his life in rural Virginia, he moved on to larger and more prominent scenes, until finally he came to positions of national and international importance. During this period the United States, at first chiefly concerned with its own internal development, finally advanced into the world arena to play a major role. By 1960 Americans had awakened to the significance of events on all continents, above all on the Eurasian land mass of Soviet Russia. In this extension of American horizons Professor Robinson has played no small part, helping to arouse his countrymen to an appreciation of the importance of the Russians, through his teaching and the training of scholars, through his scholarly writing, and by his missionary preaching of the need to study Russian affairs. Thus his retirement from academic life means much more than the departure of the usual professor. For this reason the contributors to this volume, who have received their training under him or have worked with him as post-doctoral Fellows, have felt it fitting to show their respect and affection by joining in preparing this commemorative volume.

Geroid Robinson was born in 1892 in Chase City, a small community in Mecklenburg County in southern Virginia. His father's farm, in this cotton- and tobacco-producing region, lay close to those of aunts and uncles and not far from that of his grandparents. There was much visiting around among the relatives. While most of the farms were not large, that of one aunt still bore the earmarks of the antebellum plantation, with easy hospitality dispensed in an ample dining-room, supplied from a detached kitchen in the rear. Old slave cabins and an ice-house were near, and at the edge of woods stood a sawmill. Cousins and Negro servants were plentiful, and dogs, cats, and other animals were in evidence, as the placid life . . .

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