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Robert T. Oliver papers

Identifier: 3015

Scope and Contents

The Robert T. Oliver papers, 1911-1993, consist primarily of correspondence, both personal and professional, created and collected by Oliver during his career as a professor, political advisor, author, and specialist in Asian rhetoric and communication. The majority of the correspondence is made up of items to and from government agencies, organizations, and high-ranking officials during Oliver’s appointment as advisor to South Korean President Syngman Rhee, as well as letters between Oliver, Rhee, and Rhee's family.

Additionally, there is a large amount of correspondence with colleagues at different universities and colleges, as well as publishing companies and newspapers regarding Oliver's writings. Oliver shared the ongoing developments in his professional life, as well as his personal opinions on current political climate between Korea and the United States, with his family members through chain letters that were passed around amongst them. Many of these can be found within Oliver's papers.

The remainder of the collection comprises various publications featuring Oliver’s articles and essays (as well as one book), newspapers clippings, and a few scrapbooks and photographs.


  • 1911 - 1993


Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of the Korean Heritage Library. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Korean Heritage Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical Note

Robert Tarbell Oliver, born on July 7, 1909, was an American author, lecturer, and specialist in public speaking, debate, and Asian rhetoric and communication. In 1936 he received a Ph.D. in Speech from the University of Wisconsin and thereafter served as Assistant Director of Victory Speakers Bureau in the Office of Civilian Defense in Washington, D.C. during World War II, as well as Chief of the National Food Conservation office in the War Foods Department.

His post-war career included appointment as Professor and Chair of the Department of Speech at Pennsylvania State University in 1949, and notably, advisor to South Korean President Syngman Rhee. During this time, he was also advisor to the Korean Commission and the Korean Delegation to the United Nations. Additionally, he managed the Washington Bureau of the Korean Pacific Press and was the editor of the monthly magazine Korean Survey.

Oliver remained in his post at Pennsylvania State while advising Rhee. He also taught at a number of other colleges and universities during his lifetime, including Clark Junior College, Bradley College, and Syracuse University. Oliver served as President of the National Communication Association in 1964, President of the Eastern Communication Association in 1967, and President of the Pennsylvania State Communication Association. He retired as Research Professor at Pennsylvania State in 1970.

Additionally, he was the author of over fifty books on international rhetoric, intercultural communication, and Asian history. Oliver passed away on May 29, 2000 at the age of 90.


3 Linear Feet (3 bankers boxes)

Language of Materials



Robert T. Oliver was an American author, professor, specialist in Asian rhetoric and communication, and advisor to South Korean President Syngman Rhee. This small collection consists of his professional and personal correspondence during his life and career, as well as articles, clippings, and some photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert T. Oliver

Processing Information

Materials in boxes were found to be arranged, for the most part, chronologically. The collection itself reveals (via correspondence from Oliver) that archivists at USC were responsible for this arrangement upon the original receipt of the papers, possibly by the request of Oliver himself.

This arrangement has been kept intact.

Finding aid for the Robert T. Oliver papers
Sarah Cassone
2018 February
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries East Asian Library Repository

Doheny Memorial Library
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-1825 United States