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Robert F. Engs, 1943 - 2013
Papers, 1972 - 1995

UPT 50 E57

17 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Kaiyi Chen, 1998
Revised by J.M. Duffin, November 2000, updated by Kaiyi Chen, 2009

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


Donated in 1993, 1995, and 2009.



The collection has been organized into two sections.  Each section has, generally, been arranged alphabetically by subject, with two exceptions in the first section, which begins with the Professional files and ends with the Princeton Summer Studies Program. Within each subject, the folders are arranged alphabetically.



Robert Frances Engs was born in 1943. After earning a B.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs of Princeton University in 1965, Engs received his Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 1972. While at Princeton University he participated in founding of the Princeton Summer Studies Program, an intensive college preparatory program for minority and disadvantaged New Jersey public high school students, which became the model for the Upward Bound programs of the late 1960s.

Dr. Engs began his career at the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 when he was appointed Assistant Professor of History. A year after joining the faculty, Provost Stellar appointed him as the director for Minority Faculty Recruitment. He went on to play a distinct role in enhancing the presence of minorities in both faculty and student body at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1979 Engs was promoted to Associate Professor. In addition to his teaching assignments, Engs was actively involved the Department of History administration. Dr. Engs served as chair of the undergraduate program from 1987 to 1992 and again in 2000 as well as director of the American History Honors Seminar. His areas of concentration in teaching were African American History, Civil War and Reconstruction, and History of the United States South. From 2008-2010, Dr. Engs taught courses at The College of William and Mary as the Visiting J.P. Harrison Professor of History, where he worked on the Lemon Project, which revisits the school's history with the institution of slavery. Engs became Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010.

Dr. Engs passed away on January 14, 2013, at age 69.

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The Robert Francis Engs Papers reflect his academic career at the University of Pennsylvania and interests in education.

The collection is arranged in two sections: the first section, 6.5 cubic feet in volume, was processed in 1998 and 2000;  the second section, 10.5 c.f., was processed in 2009.

The first section consists of seven series:

  • Professional, 1973 – 1993
  • Afro-American Studies, 1973 – 1993
  • Black Presence, 1974 – 1991
  • Department of History, 1972 – 1994
  • Student Files, 1972, 1983 – 1993
  • Writings
  • Princeton Summer Studies Program, 1964 – 1992

Dr. Engs’ interests in education are concentrated in two large series of this section.  The Student Files series contains both undergraduate and graduate student papers, correspondence and recommendations, dating primarily from the late 1980s.  The Princeton Summer Studies Program series reflects the early work of Robert Engs to create better opportunity and access to higher education for minorities in the United States.  The series contents detailed weekly reports of the program from 1964 to 1965, as well as student files, photographs, and audio recordings.  It provides a complete picture of the program’s intent, activities and results.  In addition, this series includes material compiled by Brandon H. Hirsch, a Penn student, during the early 1980s and in 1992 when he wrote his senior honors thesis on the topic.  The additional material documents the later careers of some of the participating students.

The second section consists mainly of four series:

  • Teaching files (course syllabus, notes, reference material, student work, etc.), which makes up nearly one half of the entire section
  • The Evans family letters project, in which Engs edited for publishing, with the assistance of a student, the letters of the Evans family of Brown County, Ohio, best known for the family’s experience in the Civil War and its changing attitude toward slavery
  • Professional/student files, which document academic activities, references, recommendations, etc. between Engs and his associates or former students
  • Administrative files, which include material related to operation of the History Department or the School of Arts and Sciences, student advising, etc.  In addition to these four major series, there are several smaller series, which include addresses and talks, clippings, correspondence, papers and published articles, and personal papers.

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