Robin Brabham oral history interview 2, 2018, November 1
Robin Brabham, founding head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses his family background, the educational path that brought him to archives, and the early years of his career at the J. Murrey Atkins Library. Mr. Brabham describes how Special Collections began with the need to establish a university archive, and the coinciding interest among librarians and academic faculty in starting a rare book collection. Although Mr. Brabham was originally hired as an ordering librarian in 1969, he was named Special Collections Librarian in 1973, fulfilling a passion he had developed in library school at Emory University under the guidance of his professor, the former UNC Charlotte librarian, Dr. James Ramer. Mr. Brabham details the growth of Special Collections' rare book collection, which began as a combination of donated volumes, including an anonymously donated collection of erotica, numerous books from the library of local celebrity Herschel Johnson (US Ambassador to Sweden), and a collection of English drama formerly owned by Princess Augusta Sophia, (daughter of King George III) that was donated in honor of Harry Dalton in 1971. Following a $25,000 personal donation by Harry Dalton in the same year, a book committee was formed to plan and oversee purchases. The committee, which was chaired by Mr. Brabham included English professor Julian Mason, geography professor Douglas Orr, and other faculty members who were interested in using rare books in their teaching. Mr. Brabham describes how the rare book collection continued to develop, with an emphasis on American literature. He also outlines benefactor Harry Dalton's personal history, his passionate interest in rare books, and his close associations with Chancellor Dean Colvard. Mr. Brabham concludes with a reflection on faculty interactions with Special Collections, noting a building interest among professors in giving students a first hand experience of archival research.