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30 October 2015

Anne Atkins Robinson

Anne Atkins Robinson 
Devoted Volunteer and Generous Donor
1921 ~ 2015

Photo provided by Ruth Robinson
Her Family 
Anne Atkins Robinson was born November 30, 1921, in San Francisco. Her parents were David Hadden Atkins, a native of England, and Mary de Fremery, of Dutch ancestry. Anne was a twin to Ruth, and younger sister to Arthur, Mary, Elizabeth, Dorothy, and Susan.

Early Years 
Anne spent her childhood in San Francisco before graduating from high school in Santa Barbara County, and then Pomona College. She joined the Army during WWII, enlisting in the Women’s Army Corps on March 11, 1944. A few years after the war, Anne married Edward P. Robinson. They raised two sons, Patrick and William, and a daughter, Ruth, in Redwood City. According to Ruth, “Anne was a happy, devoted and loving wife and mother, a creative homemaker, and an avid gardener.”

Volunteering and Genealogy 
Anne was an active volunteer in her children’s schools. Her interest in family history grew when she took a genealogy class, following the death of her husband. From there, she became an enthusiastic genealogist and continued her volunteer work, in libraries and repositories. Though she lived in San Mateo County, Anne joined the California Genealogical Society in 1980, where she volunteered for 32 years. She was also a founding member of the San Mateo Genealogical Society, where she tracked periodicals and created beautiful, handwritten labels. She additionally volunteered at the National Archives in San Bruno, where she helped to preserve the Chinese Immigration Files.

Her Legacy 
It was as a volunteer at the California Genealogical Society where Anne really made her mark. She left her Redwood City home early in the morning, and commuted several hours by Caltrain and BART, to arrive at our society once or twice a week, for decades. In more recent years, Ruth drove her mother to our society, as Anne truly enjoyed the camaraderie. She was a member of our Library Committee, where she inventoried our holdings, indexed ancestral charts, and worked on the Great Register of 1890 indexing project. Today, patrons can see Anne’s handiwork in the beautifully scripted labels on our pamphlets and other materials.

Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
In 2008, the Federation of Genealogical Societies recognized Anne for her contributions:

“The Federation of Genealogical Societies is pleased to present the Volunteer of the Year 2008 to Anne A. Robinson, nominated by the California Genealogical Society and Library in Recognition of outstanding service to the genealogical community.” 

Award Recipient
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Anne served many roles at the California Genealogical Society, but her biggest contribution was to the Book Repair Committee. She was an early member of this group, which continues to provide a much-needed service caring for our fragile collection. According to one volunteer, Anne “always brought her book repair ‘kit’ with her own materials: scissors much sharper than the ones in our box and her own ‘bone folder’ – a book repair tool, her own pens and many mystery items.” Through this work, Anne developed lifelong friendships.

Repairing Books
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Her friends at the California Genealogical Society had many kind words to say about her. Dick Rees, also a member since 1980, recalled that “Anne had a wonderfully sharp sense of humor and a real sense of devotion to CGS.” Lorna Wallace mentioned that Anne was “quiet, hard-working, yet with a happy laugh, and a friendly mood.” Pat Bonderud shared that Anne always greeted “everyone warmly” which was a “great way for volunteers to start their day at the library.” Pat also mentioned that Anne “was very pleasant to work with; quiet but filled with interesting stories.”

Every December, the Book Repair group had their own holiday party. Anne always brought her signature cookies, “ginger trees with white frosting and tiny M&M’s.” She never wavered and always brought plenty to share. Her fondness for sweets didn’t end at the holiday party. CGS Life Member and long-serving volunteer, Eugene Peck, always looked forward to their weekly cups of hot chocolate.

Anne A. Robinson and Vern Deubler
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Anne was a remarkable woman, a dedicated volunteer who gave generously to our society. She passed away on September 20, 2015. One person who knew her quite well, Bill O’Neil, summed it up best by simply saying, “We miss her!” His words reflect how all of us at the California Genealogical Society feel about Anne. Yes, we really do miss her. Anne, however, will live on in our hearts with fond memories of days past and friendships forged at the library.

Thirty two years of volunteerism
Photo by Arlene Miles
You may read more about Anne A. Robinson in one of the many CGS blog posts featuring her activities. Additionally, an obituary written by her family was recently published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the spirit of Anne’s tireless generosity, the family kindly requested that contributions in her memory be made to the California Genealogical Society.   

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society