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Betty Garman Robinson Papers

Identifier: R0157-BGR

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Scope and Content Note

The collection documents Betty Garman Robinson’s community organizing and social justice work in Baltimore throughout the 1980s-2000s. The collection includes materials from grassroots nonprofit organizations in Baltimore, Maryland which Betty Garman Robinson worked with, including the Save Middle East Action Committee (SMEAC), the Northeast Good Neighbors, the Clearing House for a Healthy Community (CHHC), and other community organizations such as the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA), Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative (BNC), and others documented in the General Baltimore Community Organizing Files series (1996-2017) of this collection. The collection also includes Robinson’s collected community organizing training materials and history resources, her Sojourner Douglas College course planning materials, items related to Robinson’s Open Society Institute Fellowship, and research materials and drafts of Robinson’s paper for a History of Health in Baltimore Course taken in the 1990s.

Some significant topics represented in the collection include Baltimore community organizing and social justice history and activities, eminent domain and residential displacement in East Baltimore for the construction of the Johns Hopkins Biotech Park, demolition and health issues in Baltimore, the Baltimore immigrant freedom ride, 2003, the community response regarding the proposed construction of a Walmart store on 25th street in 2010, and other community organizing initiatives of late 20th century and early 21st century Baltimore.

Materials in this collection are mainly textual including organizational records, reports, ephemera, organization publications, research materials, correspondence, college course materials, and other documents. Other formats present include newspaper clippings, community organizing training manuals, publications, audiovisual materials including a VHS tape and audio cassette tapes, and digital media including CD-ROMs and 3.5 inch floppy discs.


  • 1983-2017



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Two SMEAC folders labelled “Restricted” are closed to the public until 2040, except with written permission of the donor. Restricted files are indicated in the collection inventory in series three.

This collection contains audio-visual and digital materials that may need further processing or special equipment to allow use.

Some folders from this collection have been digitized and are available online through this finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright of this collection to the University Foundation. However, copyright in some items in this collection may be held by their respective creators.

Biographical Note

Betty Garman Robinson (b.1939 – d. 2020) was a community organizer in Baltimore, Maryland. Robinson attended Skidmore College in New York where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1960; she then attended graduate school at the University of California – Berkeley where she studied Political Science until 1964. Throughout her time in college and during her studies at Berkeley, Robinson was involved in the Civil Rights movement as a member of the National Student Association (NSA). Robinson then worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1964 to 1966 in Mississippi and Georgia.

Robinson moved to Baltimore in the early 1970s to work with workers organizing and developed a career in public health. During her public health career, Robinson worked in occupational health and public health research at Baltimore City Hospitals Department of Occupational Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health at the Center for Injury Research and Policy. Robinson also directed an HIV/AIDS study clinic with the Department of Epidemiology. In 1997, she returned to community organizing as the Lead Organizer for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) until 2003. The Open Society Institute awarded her a 2003 Open Society Institute Baltimore Community Fellowship to work with local community organizing groups and to teach the history of community organizing in Baltimore. As a part of this fellowship, Robinson taught a course entitled "History and Vision of Baltimore Social Justice and Organizing" at the Sojourner Douglass College in 2005 in Baltimore. Robinson remained active in the Baltimore community until her death in October 2020.

Biographical Note Sources and Further Resources:

  • Betty Robinson, Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights, 2018 (;
  • Selected Interviews: Betty Garman Robinson, American Public Media, 1994 (;
  • Betty Garman (Robinson), SNCC Digital Gateway (;
  • Betty Garman Robinson - On SNCC and Organizing: Then and Now, Internet Archive, 2011 (;
  • We Belong Together: Women for Common Sense in Immigration Policies (;
  • “Oral History/Interview - Betty Garman,” Interviewed by Emily Stoper late 1966 or early 1967. Originally published in The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, by Emily Stoper. 1968 Harvard University dissertation, 1989 by Carlson Publishing. (


7.88 Linear feet (9 containers)


Betty Garman Robinson was a community organizer in Baltimore, Maryland from the 1970s until her passing in 2020. She has contributed to multiple nonprofit and grassroots organizations including Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA), Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative (BNC), Save Middle East Action Committee (SMEAC), Northeast Good Neighbors (NEGN), and others. In 2003, Robinson was awarded an Open Society Institute Fellowship to teach the history of social justice and community organizing in Baltimore. This collection contains Robinson’s community organizing records, correspondence, teaching documents, collected research and community organizing training materials, and organizational records.


Collection is organized into eight series:

  • History of Health in Baltimore Course and Research Materials, 1983-2001;
  • Open Society Institute Fellowship and Sojourner Douglass College Class Files, 2001-2006;
  • Save Middle East Action Committee (SMEAC) and Related Organizing Files, 1991-2009;
  • Northeast Good Neighbors (NEGN) Files, 1989-2005;
  • Clearing House for a Healthy Community (CHHC) Files, 1990-2000;
  • General Baltimore Community Organizing Files, 1996-2017;
  • Community Organizing History and Collected Research Materials, circa 1995-2015;
  • Community Organizing Manuals, Training Materials, and Other Publications, 1984-2012.

Custodial History

The collection was donated to the University of Baltimore Foundation by Betty Garman Robinson on July 5, 2016. Records were received by Aiden Faust on September 14, 2016. Additional materials were transferred to Aiden Faust in January 2019.


Items weeded from the collection in 2019 include materials unrelated to Robinson's life and work and items containing personally identifiable information.

Accessing Digital Copies

Digital versions of items in this collection are available online. Locate records by using the "Print" button above, or browse records in “Collection Organization." Records with associated digital objects are identified with a red Digital Object icon.

Related Materials

Betty Garman Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee files, 1961-1966. New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City.

Video recording, personal accounts by women in SNCC, March 2012. State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo, Milne Library.

Citizens Planning and Housing Association Records, Special Collections and Archives, University of Baltimore.

Interview with Betty Garman Robinson, February 13, 2011, Internet Archive. (

Separated Materials

Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) annual reports (2000-2003) and a 1997 reunion program were separated in 2016 from the collection and added to the Citizens Planning and Housing Association Records (R0032) at Special Collections and Archives, University of Baltimore.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Laura Bell in 2019.

Finding aid for the Betty Garman Robinson Papers
Finding aid created by Aiden Faust (2016). Revised by Laura Bell (2019).
April 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Baltimore Studies Archives Repository

H. Mebane Turner Learning Commons, Room 104
1415 Maryland Avenue
Baltimore Maryland 21201 USA