Francis Robinson Collection

Identifier: MSS.0367

  • Staff Only


Francis Robinson Collection represents materials related to the life and work of Francis Arthur Robinson, (1910-1980), who is most known as the longtime spokesman for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This extensive collection comprises a diverse range of materials that Robinson both received and collected during his tenure at the Met. The collection encompasses correspondence with Geraldine Farrar, family correspondence, gramophone records, photographs, newspaper clippings, playbills, as well as an extensive collection of research materials on the opera personalities, that he used in preparation for the Live from the Met telecast series. A significant part of the collection is dedicated to Enrico Caruso, and includes correspondence, postcards, correspondence with Caruso’s private secretary, Bruno Zirato, photographs, programs, sheet music, and other materials. This collection is of interest for opera scholars and those interested in the management of opera companies.


  • 1913 - 1979

Biographical / Historical

Francis Arthur Robinson (1910-1980) is best remembered as the longtime spokesman for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Born in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, he was educated at Vanderbilt University, and served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II. Before he moved to New York and worked for the Met, Robinson was a reporter and Sunday editor of the Nashville Banner; writer, actor, and producer for WSM Radio; and theatrical press representative and company manager in association with William Fields and the Playwrights’ Company.

At various times in his long association with the Metropolitan Opera, Robinson served as Assistant Manager; Director of the Press Department, of Public Relations, and of Box Office and Subscriptions; and Tour Director. He was popular with opera fans for his “Biographies in Music” and presentations during radio and television broadcasts. To millions of listeners, Robinson was the voice of the Met. He also wrote many articles and sound recording liner notes as well as two books – Caruso: His Life in Pictures (1957) and Celebration: The Metropolitan Opera (1979). Robinson was a longtime member of the Board of Trust at Vanderbilt University and left his invaluable collection of correspondence, photographs, ephemera, subject files, and artifacts to the Vanderbilt University Library.


135 Linear Feet (215 processed Hollinger boxes (90 linear feet); 40+ unprocessed boxes (45 linear feet))

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Francis Robinson Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.