Skip to main content

John Donald Robb Photograph Collection

Identifier: PICT-000-497

Scope and Content

Photograph collection consists of portraits of John D. Robb and family, friends, and numerous musicians, conductors, singers, and dance performers. Of note are snaphots of Peter Hurd and a modern copy print of Billy the Kid and friends.

There are many photos of orchestras, some in South America. Other photographs show equipment and demonstrations of electronic music, Comanche dancers and Matachines performances in both New Mexico and Mexico.


  • 1950-1990


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


John Donald Robb, professor emeritus of music and dean emeritus of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, was responsible for the growth of fine arts at UNM in the l940s and l950s and, in turn, for the impact that UNM had in the fine arts throughout the state. Robb, a composer of stage, classical, and electronic music, is also known as a collector of folk music. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and died in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Robb had a first career as a lawyer. Educated in eastern schools, Robb graduated from Yale University in l9l5. He taught in China for one year and served in the armed forces for two years during World War I (l9l7-l9l9). After completing his legal training at Harvard Law School, Robb practiced law in New York City and in Europe from l922 to l94l. Musical activities and studies, particularly the art of composition, were, however, Robb's constant avocation.

In l941 Robb began his second career as professor of music and head of the Department of Music at the University of New Mexico. He became acting dean of the College of Fine Arts in l942, and was appointed dean in l946. He retired from this position in l957. While at UNM, Robb was instrumental in the ultimate building of the Fine Arts Center and the establishment of a folk music archive. He was also active as a composer, while continuing to build support for contemporary music throughout the state.

During his retirement years, Robb was active primarily as a composer and lecturer, although Robb's long-time interest in law and politics prompted him to run for Congress in l960. During l962 and l963, he taught composition as a visiting professor at the National Conservatory of San Salvador under a grant from the Secretary of State, and he also made a music tour of Central America, conducting the national orchestras of Venezuela, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In later years, Robb appeared as guest conductor of various American symphony orchestras, and made several record albums featuring folk and electronic music.


6500 plus items (5 boxes) : over 6500 photographic prints, slides, and negatives, one CD with 2 nitrate negative scans

Language of Materials



Photograph collection consists of portraits of John D. Robb and family, friends, and numerous musicians, conductors, singers, and dance performers.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number. Oversize print and album (Box 5) shelved in Big Box location.

Separated Material

Photographs separated from the John Donald Robb Papers.

Processing Information

Folder 20, Box 2, is a 2014 addition.

Box 2 (part) - Box 5 were processed in 2017. In August 2021, a third small addition of 3 photographs was processed as Folder 22, Box 2.
Finding Aid of the John Donald Robb Photograph Collection, 1950-1990
Pictorial Collections Staff
© 2007, 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131