The Robbins Eagle

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Title: The Robbins Eagle IIIF collection link
City: Robbins, Ill.
County: Cook
Available online: 3 March 1951 - 15 June 1963 (161 issues)

The Robbins Eagle was a weekly newspaper published in Robbins, Illinois, a village located seventeen miles southwest of the city of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois. The paper was established February 17, 1951 and was given its title by one of the paper's founders, Marion L. Smith. Smith is listed as the paper's editor in issues of the paper published in 1953. After 1953, Frank Block, who had previously worked as a linotype operator at a Chicago printing shop, is listed as editor, owner, and publisher.

An article in the May 15, 1954 issue of the Eagle entitled ‘Circulation of the Robbins Eagle Climbs' described the paper's rocky start, stating that during "the first venture in publishing" the paper "lasted only a few months." The author reported that production work "was a burdensome task" because all this work, including news gathering, securing advertisers, and printing, was done outside the village. Eventually, the paper was able to continue, with the Eagle becoming "strictly a Robbins enterprise." The paper was expanded from four pages to twelve pages and was "compiled, composed, made-up and printed under one roof" in the village of Robbins. Staff, reporters, and newsboys were all residents of the village.

While the work of producing the paper came to be entirely local, the May 1954 article reports that the Eagle circulated in "Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama," and Chicago, as well as overseas. The article stated that, at that time, circulation was "well over the 2,000 mark." News coverage in the paper had a local focus and includes church and school news, sports, local organizations, crime, police investigations, and village construction projects.

The village of Robbins was founded in 1917 by Thomas J. Kellar. Beginning in 1910, real-estate agents Henry and Eugene Robbins opened several subdivisions which were marketed to African Americans. The area was settled mostly by working-class African Americans, many of whom "were southerners who had preferences for homeownership, open space, tightly knit community life, and country atmosphere" ("Robbins, IL," Encyclopedia of Chicago, ). Factory job opportunities were available in the Calumet region and some women worked canning and packing vegetables.

The village is also known for the Robbins Airport, which was established in 1931 and was considered "a center for black aviation in the North." The airport was destroyed by a windstorm in 1933 and was never rebuilt. Between 1950 and 1970, the population of Robbins grew from 4,766 to 9,644 with 98 percent of the population being African American. Eventually, Robbins became a popular recreation spot for Black Chicagoans. The 1949 Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide, advertised the town of Robbins as "one that is OWNED AND OPERATED BY NEGROES," and that due to the "absence of prejudice and restrictions, opportunities for the Negro are unlimited" (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "The Negro Motorist Green Book: 1949" New York Public Library Digital Collections, The village struggled economically in the 1950s and 1960s, but was one of the few places in the greater Chicago area where African Americans with limited financial resources could afford land and home ownership.