Publication Date

October 1, 2007

Perspectives Section

In Memoriam

Madeline Russell Robinton (née Madeline Ruth Russell) was born in New York City on March 22, 1909, and died on September 13, 2006, at the age of 97, at her home in Brooklyn. At her retirement in 1976 she was professor of history at Brooklyn College. She was married to the late Herman Robinton, a New York state archivist.

Robinton received her BA degree from Barnard College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. While earning her PhD from Columbia University she began teaching at Brooklyn College in 1931. The college was then one year old and located in downtown Brooklyn, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Madeline Robinton was a beloved teacher and the department adviser to students majoring in history. She worked tirelessly for her students and inculcated in them a respect for the canons of history and the maintenance of high standards. At her retirement party she was accurately described as the conscience of the department. She taught students more than British history. She discussed ethical standards in academe, the proper role of teachers and the rigorous standards that a historian must apply in research and writing. When she retired her students presented her with a leather-bound volume containing testimonials to her standards of scholarship, her enduring influence on them, and the high esteem in which she was held.

Robinton was one of the founding faculty members of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Brooklyn College and she served as book review editor for the Key Reporter of Phi Beta Kappa. Robinton, a life member of the American Historical Association, was active in numerous British professional organizations, including the Anglo-American Conference of Historians, and was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Each year she hosted and arranged a breakfast at the annual meeting of the AHA where alumni of the Brooklyn College history department met and exchanged ideas.

Her main scholarly interests were British history and the English Civil War of the 17th century, the struggle between king and parliament and the evolution of parliamentary supremacy. Her published works include An Introduction to the Papers of the New York Prize Court, 1861–65, (Columbia University Press, 1945) and “The Lynskey Tribunal: British Methods of dealing with Political Corruption,”Political Science Quarterly, 68:1 (March 1953).

Madeline Robinton was a revered and admired teacher, a mentor to generations of historians, and a much-respected colleague.

Brooklyn College ‘60

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