Skip to main content

Robert L. Gilbert First Issues collection

Call Number: Gilbert


This collection consists mostly of first issues of magazines and other periodicals published primarily in the United States, mostly during the 20th century.


  • Creation: 1810, [1855?], 1900s-2007 (bulk 1920s-1970s)

Language of Materials

Most of the collection is in English, but some issues may be in Spanish, French, other Indo-European languages, or in Arabic script.

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of Robert L. Gilbert (1898-1995)

Robert Leigh Gilbert was born in 1898 in Lawrence, Kansas. He completed high school in 3 years and went to work to support his family doing odd jobs. Gilbert joined the Navy in 1917 and served during World War I as an airplane mechanic. He was deployed to France for a year and was honorably discharged in 1919.

Gilbert continued his studies at the University of Kansas from 1919-1923, graduating with a degree in Journalism. Gilbert was very involved in activities during his time at KU including ROTC, Sigma Delta Chi, cheerleading, and with the yearbook as a photographer.

Gilbert had many occupations over his career, including newspaper reporter and editor, partner of an engineering firm, owner of Gilbert Citrus Groves, manager of the Robstown Chamber of Commerce, and member of the Civil Air Patrol and First Class mission pilot.

Gilbert had active interests in many fields, including journalism, aviation, and political activism. He was a member of numerous organizations including the World War I Veterans Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Pilots Association, Airline Passengers Association, Texas Flying Farmers, Delta Upsilon, and the Masons, among others.

Gilbert married Mariam Meader in 1923 and had two children, Robert Jr. and Mariam Leigh. They divorced, and Gilbert married Josephine Gill in 1939. Robert L. Gilbert died in 1985.


41 Linear Feet (approximately 2,919 items total in 41 linear feet + 7 oversize boxes, 25 folders, 14 items)

Scope and Contents

Presented to the University of Kansas by its collector, Robert L. Gilbert, the collection affords a unique resource for the study of magazine publishing. Concentrating on the journals published in the United States in the 20th century, although it does include a few earlier magazines, the hundreds of first issues in the collection provide an uncommon view of periodical publishing, from the pulps and house organs to little magazines and learned journals.

Topics and areas of focus for the magazines, newspapers, and literary journals found in the collection include home hobbies and do-it-yourself projects, sports and athletics, photography, politics, tourism and boosterism, genre fiction and comics, gossip and social news, philately, periodicals published by or on behalf of prisoners, scholarship, puzzles, movies, radio, television shows, business, marketing and communications, men's/women's/children or youth's magazines, investments and banking, astrology, news and current affairs, etc. Several items were produced locally in Kansas communities, such as Lawrence or Manhattan; others have a national scope or focus on other geographic areas of the United States. A small number of items come from other countries, including Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and New Zealand, India, and various Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.

Item titles in the finding aid include the magazine title; publication location and publisher information when known; and date of issue. Other information, such as if an item has been inscribed, is noted whenever possible. All items are Volume 1 number 1 for an issue unless otherwise indicated in the finding aid. Information in this finding aid was transcribed from catalog cards, rather than from the pieces themselves, so errors may have been transcribed as well.


Issues have been organized and cataloged by height but are described in this finding aid alphabetically by periodical title. When wishing to request a specific issue, the item number (for example, "Volume Gilbert A1") must be requested in order to view that item.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Robert L. Gilbert, [1977?]. Transferred from the School of Journalism to Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1980.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Dale Martin, March 17, 1995.

Related Materials

Personal papers of Robert L. Gilbert, PP 253, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Guide to the Robert L. Gilbert Collection
Robert L. Gilbert First Issues collection
Finding aid prepared by alh. Finding aid encoded by cd, mwh, 2022. Finding aid revised by cmp, 2024.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Robert L. Gilbert First Issues collection, 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