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Robert S. Brookings Papers

Identifier: WUA-03-wua00169

The papers of Robert S. Brookings, businessman, Chairman of the Washington University Board of Trustees (1895-1928), and founder of the Brookings Institution, comprise one linear foot of material consisting of correspondence, publications of Mr. Brookings, biographical data, and publications of the Brookings Institution.


  • 1890-1980


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


1.00 linear feet

2 boxes

Biographical Information

Robert S. Brookings (1850 -1932) was born and acquired his early education in Cecil County, Maryland, before moving to St. Louis, Missouri, to begin his career at age 17. He began as a clerk and later salesman for Cupples and Marston, manufacturers and distributors of woodenware. In less than four years he became a partner in the firm at age twenty-one.

He achieved remarkable success in business at an early age, and began to reach out for a broader perspective by acquiring education and European culture. He read deeply under the direction of Dean Snow of Washington College in St. Louis and traveled extensively in Europe.

As a civic leader and philanthropist, Brookings turned his creative energy to building Washington University and other St. Louis institutions until, with the coming of World War I, he moved to Washington and onto the world stage. He served on the new War Industries Board as commissioner of Finished Products and Chairman of the Price Fixing Committee. In this role he became the link between the government and hundreds of industries. He achieved remarkable results under very difficult circumstances, and for his war service he was recognized with the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal, the French Legion of Honor, and Italy's Commander of the Crown.

His work within the government during the war showed him the need for improved economic research and a trained corps of civil servants. He established a graduate school as a part of Washington University and two institutes to address these problems. Finally, Brookings' dream of an independent research institution devoted to solving problems of government and the economy became a reality with the merger in 1927 of the Robert Brookings Graduate School, the Institute of Economics, and the original Institute for Government Research established in 1916.


The collection is organized as follows:

Series 01: Correspondence (1890-1930)

Series 02: Brookings' Publications

Series 03: Biographical Data

Series 04: The Brookings Institution

Series 05: Photographs

Series 06: Degrees/Citations

Series 07: Miscellaneous

Method of Acquisition

The original material was donated to University Archives. Additional material was given to the collection on February 3, 1983 by Eugene G. Monnig, (Washington University Class of 1939).

Accruals and Additions

The accruals are interfiled within collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Pabarcus in November 2005.

Robert S. Brookings Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May 20: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495