The Leonard A. Robinson Collection
Scope and Contents
The Leonard A. Robinson Collection spans the years 1927-1990, with the majority of material dating from 1927 to 1975. The collection primarily covers Robinson’s work advocating for and directing federal programs to expand the economic and employment opportunities for the blind as authorized by the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936. The collection also covers Robinson’s activities involving the Foundation for the Handicapped and Elderly, Inc., Swing Trim, Inc., and Robinson’s book, Light at the Tunnel End. The collection includes correspondence, reports, printed matter, photographs, technical drawings, and news-clippings. Three scrapbooks and two copies of Light at the Tunnel End are also included. The majority of materials in the collection pertain to Robinson’s work as Director of Blind Services for the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The department was created as a result of legislation focused on the economic rehabilitation of blind citizens, namely the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Robinson’s work as an advocate for the blind, both in Cleveland, Ohio and at the national level, are also included. Robinson’s later career included the stewardship of the Foundation for the Handicapped and Elderly, Inc., which was integral to the development of the George Washington University low vision clinic; the writing and publication of Light at the Tunnel End, which is a history of the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and his role as a stockholder in Swing Trim, Inc., which was involved in the design, patenting, and sales of an exerciser that could be assembled by the blind.
- Created: 1927-1990
- Other: Majority of material found in 1927-1975
- Other: Date acquired: 12/31/2015
- Robinson, Leonard A. (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Jacobus tenBroek Library. Consult the Archives staff for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Jacobus tenBroek Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Archives staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Jacobus tenBroek Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.
Biographical or Historical Information
Leonard A. Robinson (1904-1980) was a blind lawyer and advocate who worked for the Vocational Rehabilitation Service in the District of Columbia. The program was administered by the Federal Government from 1938-1954 and by the Government of the District of Columbia from 1954-1975.
Upon graduating from Western Reserve University Law School and being admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1929, Robinson began practicing law and served as a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the Welfare Sightless Association in Cleveland, OH. While attending the World Conference on Work for the Blind in New York City in April 1931, Robinson met Joseph F. Clunk of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind of Toronto, Canada, after which Robinson began directing his efforts towards the passage of legislation to create federal work programs for the blind (Bledsoe 1972, 57; Robinson 1975, 13). Two years later Robinson drafted a bill to create blind operated vending stands in federal buildings and Matthew Dunn, a blind representative from Pennsylvania, introduced the bill to the House of Representatives in 1933 (Hiestand 1950, 14; Robinson 1975, 29-33; Koestler 1976, 195-6). The legislation failed, but after meeting Jennings Randolph of West Virginia, the pair worked to draft the Randolph-Sheppard Act which was successfully passed in 1936 (Koestler 1976, 197). Robinson started working for the Federal Government in 1938 as assistant to the supervisor of the vending stand program and served as Director of Blind Services from 1947 until his retirement in 1971.
Note written by David Durden
2.08 Linear Feet
6 boxes, 3 oversize folders other_unmapped
Language of Materials
Correspondence, photographs, and documents related to the professional career of Leonard A. Robinson, a blind lawyer and government employee who was involved in the passage of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the development of Blind Services in the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Federal Government and Washington, D.C. The collection contains materials related to the writing and publishing of Robinson’s book, Light at the Tunnel End.
The collection is organized into 6 series:
Physical Access Requirements
Technical Access Requirements
Source of Acquisition
Method of Acquisition
The papers of Leonard A. Robinson were donated to the Jacobus tenBroek Library in 2015 by Amy Wexler, daughter-in-law of the creator. Deed of gift agreement on file.
Other Descriptive Information
Some correspondence is in contracted Braille.
Processed by David Durden, February 2017
- Associations, institutions, etc.--Law and Legislation--United States--Congresses.
- Atkinson, J. Robert (John Robert), 1887-1964
- Blind – Employment
- Blind--Rehabilitation--Economic aspects--United States.
- Blind--Services for--Maryland.
- Blind--Services for--United States.
- Blind--Services for--Washington Metropolitan Area.
- Blindness – Social conditions
- Bulkley, Robert Johns, 1880-1965
- Community foundations.
- Department of Education--Rehabilitation Services Administration
- District of Columbia. Mayor’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped
- Foundation for the Handicapped and Elderly, Inc.
- Friedlander, Blaine P., 1928-2013
- George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates. Low Vision Center.
- H.R. 4349 (77th Congress)
- H.R. 4688 (74th Congress)
- H.R. 5175 (79th Congress)
- Johns Hopkins University. Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute.
- McCahill, William P. (William Paul Michael), 1916-1999
- Randolph Sheppard Vendors of America
- Randolph, Jennings, 1902-1998
- Randolph-Sheppard Act, 1936; Amended, 1974
- Robinson, Leonard A., 1904-1980
- Sheppard, Morris, 1875-1941
- Sloan, Louise L. (Louise Littig), 1898-1982
- Sunga, Roberto N., 1933-
- Swing Trim, Inc. (Swingtrim Corporation)
- The President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- World Conference on Work for the Blind (1931)
- Robinson, Leonard A. (Person)
- Archon Finding Aid Title
- David Durden
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Jacobus tenBroek Library, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Repository
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore MD 21230 US