William Robbins served as a faculty member in the Oregon State University History Department from 1971 until his retirement in 1999 as Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History. Robbins earned his B.S. from Western Connecticut State College and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Oregon. Robbins was named a Distinguished Professor at OSU in 1997.
Specializing in the history of the western United States from an economic and environmental perspective, Robbins has written extensively on the history of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. His books include: Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940 (1997); Landscapes of Conflict: The Oregon Story, 1940-2000 (2004); Hard Times in Paradise: Coos Bay, Oregon, 1850-1896 (1988); Colony and Empire: The Capitalist Transformation of the American West (1994); and The Great Northwest: The Search for Regional Identity (2001). His 2005 book, Oregon: This Storied Land was a finalist for the 2006 Oregon Book Award in general non-fiction.
The William G. Robbins Papers consist of materials generated and assembled by Robbins for teaching, research, and writing. The papers consist of correspondence (arranged choronologically), annual activity summary files, article and book reviews written by Robbins, conference papers and speeches, teaching materials, class notes and papers from his graduate education, and extensive research and reference materials. The papers also include newspaper clippings; publications and reports; and a few photographs.
The correspondence pertains to the publication of his research, search for employment as a university instructor, and Robbins' teaching post in the Oregon State University History Department and document Robbins' interaction with colleagues, journal editors, and university administrators. The teaching materials includes course syllabi, lecture and research notes, graduate student files, and reference materials assembled for a series of courses on Native American historical topics. The graduate student files reflect Robbins' role as an advisor and contain correspondence, meeting notices, essays, and thesis proposals.
The research and reference materials were assembled by Robbins in the course of his research and writing and include photocopies from a variety of archives and primary source repositories.