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Robinson-Clapp family archives

Call Number: RH MS 578


The Robinsons were a prominent Kansas City, Missouri family. Betty Clapp Robinson collected her family papers and materials relating to her interest in gardening. The collection includes photographs and scrapbooks from the 1890s to 1998. Some of the papers relate to the Robinson family endeavors in the military and medical fields from the 1890s-1910s; other materials relate to family members' involvement with the University of Kansas, genealogical information and research, and the history of Kansas City.


  • Creation: 1861 - 2020


Conditions Governing Access

Audio visual materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) before a planned visit; staff will respond within three days, though materials may not be available in that timeframe. Access to audio visual materials may require digitization first. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biographies of Betty Clapp Robinson (1912-2000) and Ernest Robinson (1904-1991)

Betty Clapp Robinson was born June 22, 1912 in Wichita, Kansas, the daughter of Marc Clinton and Florence Harper Clapp. After graduating from Mills College in Oakland, California in 1934, she married Kansas City surgeon Ernest "Kip" Robinson, son of Dr. Ernest Franklin and Mary Clementine Kip Robinson, in 1937.

Mrs. Robinson held a variety of volunteer and service positions throughout her life. She co-founded the Cerebral Palsy Nursery School in 1947, served as chairman of Research and St. Joseph's Hospitals' community fundraising drive in 1953, and held a wide variety of volunteer positions with the Junior League of Kansas City. In 1957-1958 she was president of the Visiting Nurse Association and served on the Nettleton Home for Aged Women board of directors.

Mrs. Robinson's passion for gardening led her to receive the 1999 Garden Club of America Medal of Merit for her work with promoting conservation and for 45 years of working with the Westport Garden Club of Kansas City, Missouri. She was also concerned about historic preservation, serving in a variety of capacities for the Kenmore Association, a group formed to preserve the Revolutionary War-era home of Betty Washington and Fielding Lewis.

Dr. Kip Robinson practiced medicine in Kansas City from 1932 until his 1975 retirement, after earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He founded the city's first cancer clinic at General Hospital and directed the hospital's cancer service until 1964, pioneering the use of radium for treating cancer. During World War II, he served as chief of surgery at the Olathe Naval Air Station and served on the U.S.S. Intrepid and at the Naval Receiving Hospital in San Francisco. He also served as a surgeon with the Burlington Railroad and was a member of the Association of Railway Surgeons.

Dr. Robinson was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the Southwestern Surgical Congress. He maintained memberships in the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the Jackson County Medical Society, and the Kansas City Surgical Society. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Bronze Star for his service during World War II.

Dr. Robinson held his own volunteer positions in the Kansas City area, at one time serving as chairman of the Kansas City Landmarks Commission and with the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission.

Kip and Betty Robinson had three children: Mary Judith, John Kip, and Marc Clapp. The eldest, Mary Judith or "Judy," had a career in journalism in Main with the United Press International and, from 1991-2017, wrote and published several books based on various research projects, including genealogy. Dr. Ernest Kip Robinson died in 1991. Betty Clapp Robinson died in 2000.


36 linear foot (47 boxes + 33 oversize boxes, 1 legal-size folder, 21 oversize folders, 7 audiovisual items)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection includes a wide variety of textual and photographic materials related to the Robinson-Clapp family of Wichita, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. It includes materials related to Betty Clapp Robinson's gardening activities, including both the Westport Garden Club of Kansas City, Missouri and the Garden Club of America, as well as her volunteer and board work with Kenmore (the home of George Washington's sister Betty and Fielding Lewis in Fredericksburg, Virginia), the Visiting Nurse Association, the Kansas City Junior League, and other organizations.

Also in the collection are records from Dr. Ernest Franklin Robinson's medical practice during the Spanish American War, as well as material from Dr. Kip Robinson's military medical service and, later, his practice in Kansas City, Missouri. Medical materials may include information about individually identified individuals, but these materials all date prior to World War II.

Materials from other Clapp or Robinson family members is included. The collection contains a notable number of scrapbooks, many compiled by Betty Clapp Robinson from 1949-1998 either annually or for specific trips and other special occasions, and family photographs.

The collection remains, for the most part, organized as it was when it arrived at Spencer Research Library. Additions have been incorporated into the collection over time. Some groupings in the collection appear as "from box labeled..." Oversize materials have frequently been physically separated from the main collection.

Physical Location

RH MS 578

Physical Location

RH MS P-578

Physical Location

RH MS Q102, RH MS Q103

Physical Location

RH MS R96, RH MS R97, RH MS R289

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS P895

Physical Location

KC AV 109

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Arthur Robinson, 2001; Judith Robinson, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2021.

Related Materials

Arthur Weaver Robinson collection, RH MS 1533, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Separated Materials

Brown, George W. Reminiscences of Gov. R.J. Walker: With the True Story of the Rescue of Kansas from Slavery. Rockford, Illinois: The author, 1902. Located at Spencer Research Library at RH B2705.

Phillips, William A. The Conquest of Kansas by Missouri and Her Allies: A History of the Troubles in Kansas: From the Passage of the Organic Act Until the Close of July 1856. Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Company, 1856. Located at Spencer Research Library at RH B2704.



Guide to the Robinson-Clapp Family Collection
Robinson-Clapp family archives
Finding aid prepared by mab, March 2005. Finding aid encoded by mab, 2005. Finding aid revised by skt, 2010; mwh, 2017, 2018; lmw, gem, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Robinson-Clapp family archives, RH MS 578, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States