Robert B. Robles papers, 1907-1988 (bulk 1956-1982)

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Robert B. Robles papers, 1907-1988 (bulk 1956-1982)

MS 563

Collection Summary

Creator: Robles, Robert Benitez
Collection Name:Robert Benitez Robles papers,
Inclusive Dates: 1907-1988
Bulk Dates: (bulk 1956-1982)
Physical Description: 4.25 Linear Feet
Abstract:This collection is primarily comprised of Robert Robles' letters, manuscripts, personal documents, photos, and documentation of his service to the Mexican American community. Documents and correspondence also relate to Robles' work for the Republican party in Arizona.
Collection Number:MS 563
Language: Materials are in English and some are written in Spanish.
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Biographical Note

Robert Benitez Robles was born in 1908 in Clifton, Arizona to Mariano Robles and Aurelia Benitez, both first-generation Mexican immigrants from Zacatecas. During much of his life, Robles was treated as a second class citizen due to his Mexican heritage, but, as he wrote in his autobiography, was "never discouraged" and he set attending college as a goal. After a short time working in a mine in Clifton, he enrolled at Arizona State Teachers College (later Northern Arizona University) in Flagstaff, Arizona.

For a while, Robles taught, specializing in teaching bilingual students. In 1944, though he was over the draft age and a father and husband, Robles volunteered to join the war effort as a transport airman for the Navy until he sustained a back injury and was honorably discharged in 1945. After the war, Robles became an insurance agent for New York Life until his retirement in 1973.

Starting in the early 1960s, after switching his voter registration from Democrat to Republican, Robles became very active in Arizona politics, with the intention of reaching the Hispanic community that he saw as neglected by both the Democratic and Republican parties. As Chairman of the Yuma County Republican committee, Robles was charged with garnering support for the Republican candidates in elections. In 1961, he campaigned for Mac Matheson, who was running against Democrat Morris K. Udall for a seat in Congress, by visiting small towns and cold calling voters. Robles translated pamphlets, speeches, and other materials to Spanish to reach Hispanic voters. Despite being overwhelmingly Democrat, Yuma voted Republican due to Robles' work. Incumbent Republican Governor Fannin rewarded Robles with a seat on the state employment security commission, though he had to decline the offer because of a conflict with his position at New York Life. Robles further used his expertise and connections to help a prominent Mexican American attorney, Larry Huerta, in his race for a seat on the State Industrial Commission in 1961. However, Larry Huerta still lost to Colonel Hugh Belden. His tireless efforts were also recognized by Barry Goldwater, who solicited Robles's help to reach Hispanic voters in the Southwest and appointed him Field Representative, Western states for his 1964 presidential campaign.

Robles was active in community service beyond politics, as well. He was a member of American Legion for over 40 years, the Optimist club for 20 years, and was also a charter member of the Vesta club, a group of Hispanic professionals who were able to attend college through the GI Bill. Robles volunteered as a speech coach for several young men, many of whom became very successful later in their careers. From 1967-1969, while a member of the Yuma Chamber of Commerce, Robert Robles also worked to extend the hours at the Andrade/Algodones border crossing from ten to 18 hours daily, which helped boost the economies of both towns. Robles was also a scoutmaster and a 4-H leader.

Robles also put much of his time into writing, and he published several poems and a book, called Goodbye Garcia, Adios, about the life of a little-known Mexican hero, Jesus Garcia, who sacrificed his life by steering a wayward train out of the way of his town. Robles also wrote an essay titled, The Great Fraud, about the highly contested 1893 agreement between the Yuma (Quechan) Tribe and the United States government, which transferred ownership of much of the Quechan land to the government. Robles interviewed several Quechan tribal members, including Henry Montague, head of the Quechan Tribal Council at Ft. Yuma at the time, to expose the conditions of the agreement and to show the Quechan side of the story.

Scope and Content Note

The collection (1907-1988) is arranged chronologically and contains materials including correspondence and letters, short stories, poems, a bilingual autobiography, pamphlets and speeches from Mr. Robles's involvement in Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign, personal documents, photos, materials demonstrating his involvement with the Mexican American community in Yuma, research files, reviews and features of his published work, and newspaper clippings related to his interests and work with different local organizations and initiatives.


This collection is organized into 10 series.



There are no restrictions on this collection.


It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for the University of Arizona, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909-1998

Corporate Name(s)
American Legion
Arizona State Teachers College
Optimist International
Vesta Club
Yuma County Republican Committee

Geographic Name(s)
Arizona -- Politics and government
Clifton (Ariz.)
Miami (Ariz.)
Phoenix (Ariz.)
Yuma (Ariz.)

Education, Bilingual -- Arizona
Mexican Americans -- Arizona

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Robert Benitez Robles papers (563). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

Processing History

Processed by Zazil Davis-Vazquez, 2017. Additions to collection processed in 2021 by Michelle Nicole Boyer-Kelly.

Container List

Series I: Correspondence, 1960-1983
Scope and Contents
Contains several letters arranged chronologically between Robert Robles and others mainly focusing on Arizona politics, the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign, his various publications, etc.Contains several letters arranged chronologically between Robert Robles and others mainly focusing on Arizona politics, the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign, his various publications, etc.
11 Correspondence, 1960-1963, undated
12 Correspondence, 1964-1983
Series II: Manuscripts, undated
Scope and Contents
This series, with no arrangement, contains all of Mr. Robles's manuscripts, including his autobiography, several translations of different texts, short stories, poems, and essays. Many revised versions of each manuscript are included in this series.
13 From Barrio to Mainstream (Autobiography, Spanish), undated
14 Del Barrio al Corriente Mayor (Autobiography, English), undated
15 Spanish Speaking Heroes, undated
16 Pepito, A Series of Short Bilingual Stories, undated
17 Poems, undated
18 Poems and Short Prose, undated
Series III: Goldwater Campaign, 1964
Scope and Contents
Contains speeches, pamphlets, and ephemera from Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential election campaign.
19 Goldwater Campaign Ephemera, 1964
Series IV: Personal Documents, 1908-1988
Scope and Contents
Contains various documents such as birth certificate, honorable discharge, resume, etc. arranged chronologically.
110 Personal Documents, 1908-1988, undated
2 Aztec eagle drawing, undated
Series V: Photos, 1907-1976
Scope and Contents
This series, arranged chronologically, contains all the photos from the collection, most of which are black and white family photos and pictures of Robert Robles at events and with friends. Some photos depict the subjects of Robles' research. For additional photographs, see "additions" series.
111 Photos, 1907-1963
112 Photos, 1964-1976, undated
1 Photo album and scrapbook, 1907-1988
Series VI: Community Service, 1957-1981
Scope and Contents
Contains documents arranged chronologically from Robert Robles's time in the American Legion, the Phoenix Lions, the Yuma Optimist Club, as a speech coach, as a 4H leader, and from his work to increase hours at the Andrade/Algodones border point of entry.
113 Community Service, 1957-1981, undated
Series VII: Research and Reviews, 1908-1983
Scope and Contents
This series is arranged chronologically and contains research documents relating to Robles' manuscripts and reviews of his work that appeared in magazines or newspapers.
114 Research pertaining to manuscripts, 1908-1983, undated
115 Written reviews of Robles' published work, 1976-1977, undated
Series VIII: Newspaper Clippings, 1956-1982
Scope and Contents
Contains all newspaper clippings from the collection.
116 Newspaper Clippings, 1956-1964
117 Newspaper Clippings, 1967-1982
Series IX: Reel to reel, undated
Scope and Contents
This series contains two reels of quarter-inch open reel audio tape on seven-inch reels.
21 Reel 1: "2 Great Men of Our Time" (3:45), "Manolete" (10:25) Aug 27, 1947, "Nana" (3:30), undated
22 Reel 2: "2 Great Men of Our Time" (3:45), "Manolete" (10:25) "Nana" (3:30), undated
Series X: 2021 Additions to collection, undated
Scope and Contents
This series includes additions made to the collection in 2021. Additions have been ordered by item type.
31 Danilo Medigovich Air Force drawing, undated
32 Danilo Medigovich Air Force signed photo (copy), undated
33 Danilo Medigovich Air Force photograph print, undated
34 Department of Air Force framed letter to Danilo Medigovich from Donald L. Wilkinson, Col., Sterling R. Cruger, Col., and Richard P. Tillstrom, Lt. Col., 1983
35 National Defense University plaque with list of graduates, including Danilo Medigovich, 1977
41 Medigovich, Danilo. "Thinking of Danny" bio, undated
42 Noticias articles (printed copies) by Rosalie Crowe, ca. 1997-2006
43 Miscellaneous pamphlets, newspaper clippings, etc., undated
44 Photos. Children, undated
45 Photos. "Mama" Herrick, undated
46 Photos. Military, undated
47 Photos. Miscellaneous, undated
48 Photos. Miscellaneous family shots, undated
49 Photos. Professor George F. Herrick, undated
410 Photos. Robert Benitez Robles, undated
411 Photos. School and sports, undated
412 Photos. Wedding, undated