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Department of Romance Languages letters about José Robles Pazos' arrest

 Record Group — Box: 1, Folder: 7-20
Identifier: RG-04-081

Scope and Contents

The collection spans the years 1929-1940 and consists chiefly of correspondence sent to and collected by Henry Carrington Lancaster, faculty member and chair of the Department of Romance Languages. The collection also includes a contract for the Spanish translation of 13 books by H.L. Mencken and two life insurance policies. The correspondence relates to the plight of Robles' wife and children after the arrest of José Robles Pazos when his whereabouts and fate were unknown. Of particular interest are the letters of the American author John Dos Passos regarding Robles' arrest and subsequent execution. It has been alleged that Dos Passos was a Communist sympathizer during the 1930s but that his ultimate disenchantment with Communism began with the Robles case.

Correspondents include (written to Henry Carrington Lancaster unless otherwise noted):

Joseph Sweetman Ames; Henry S. Baker; Isaiah Bowman; Maurice E. Coindreau; F.S. Crofts and Co.; Esther J. Crooks; John Dos Passos; Niles, Barton, Morrow and Yost; José Robles; Francisco Robles (to Esther Crooks); Margara Robles (to John Dos Passos); Marguerite Robles (to Mr. Storck); A.G. Solalinde; Alexander Weddell; Ralph C. Williams.


  • Creation: 1929 - 1940


Language of Materials

This collection consists of materials in English, Spanish, and French.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

José Robles Pazos was born in 1897. He was educated in Madrid at the following institutions: Bachiller, Instituto de San Isidro, 1914; Licenciado en letras, University of Madrid, 1918; Prof. Spanish Literature, Residencia de Estudiantes; Colaborador, Centro de Estudios Historicos, 1918-20. In 1920 he came to Johns Hopkins University as Instructor in Spanish, becoming Associate Professor in 1922.

Early in June of 1936, after the close of classes at the Johns Hopkins University, Robles and his wife and children left for a vacation in Spain. Shortly after, the Civil War in Spain broke out. Soon after the beginning of the hostilities Robles entered the service of the Spanish Government on a temporary basis pending his return to Baltimore. He also worked as an interpreter at the Russian Embassy. Early in December of 1936 Robles was arrested, and his whereabouts and fate remained unknown. It was not until March 4, 1939 that it was officially announced by the Director of the Spanish Press Bureau in Valencia that Robles had been shot as a traitor by the Spanish Republican Government in February of 1937. After many vicissitudes Robles' wife and daughter escaped to Mexico, where they proposed to settle, in late 1939. Robles' son Francisco was captured during a military engagement in the summer of 1938 and interned in a prisoner of war camp in Zaragoza under sentence of death. This sentence was commuted to a long prison term through the efforts of the American Ambassador in Madrid. The last letter in the collection relating to Francisco Robles indicates that by May 1940 efforts were in progress through diplomatic channels to secure his release and transfer to the United States.

Henry Carringon Lancaster was chair of the Department of Romance Languages and professor of French literature at Johns Hopkins University. Robles was a colleague of Lancaster's and a member of the Johns Hopkins University faculty when he was arrested.


.25 Cubic Feet (About 80 items)


José Robles Pazos was an Associate Professor of Spanish at Johns Hopkins University born in 1897 and shot as a traitor by the Spanish Republican Government in February of 1937. The collection spans the years 1929-1940 and consists of correspondence regarding Robles' arrest, a contract for the Spanish translation of 13 books by H.L. Mencken, and two life insurance policies.

Custodial History

Formerly MS.0047. Identifier was changed to reflect the fact that these materials are university records, not manuscripts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred to the library by the Romance Languages Department of The Johns Hopkins University in about 1942.

Related Materials

See also related materials in the Isiah Bowman Collection MS.0058 housed in Special Collections.

Processing Information

Re-processed by Jordon Steele, December 2017.

Guide to the Department of Romance Languages letters about José Robles Pazos' arrest
Jordon Steele
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA