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MC 859

Robert, Ann, 1932- . Papers of Ann Robert, ca.1957-2014: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 859
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Robert, Ann, 1932-
Title: Papers of Ann Robert, ca.1957-2014
Date(s): 1957-2014
Quantity: 15.5 linear feet (22 + 1/2 file boxes, 3 folio boxes, 2 folio+ boxes, 1 card box) plus 3 folio+ folders, 3 oversize folders, 3 supersize folders, 21 photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 oversize photograph folder, 2 slides)
Language of materials: Materials in English, French, or German.
Abstract: Correspondence; menus; administrative material; recipes; building plans; financial material; awards; travel ephemera; graphic designs for advertising and menus; policies and procedures; etc., of Ann Robert, restauranteur.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2015-M128, 2015-M205
The papers of Ann Robert were given to the Schlesinger Library by Ann Robert in August and December 2015.

Processing Information:

Processed: January 2017
By: Mark Vassar with assistance from Margaret Dalton.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ann Robert is retained by the donor. Upon her death, copyright is transferred to her daughter, Andree Robert. Upon the death of Andree Robert, copyright is transferred to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Ann Robert Papers, ca.1957-2014; item description, dates. MC 859, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Donor: Ann Robert
Accession numbers: 2015-M128, 2015-M205
Processed by: Mark Vassar
The following books and pamphlets have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials division (pending review by curator):
The following periodicals have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials division (pending review by curator):


Martha Ann Rossing, daughter of A. Hjalmer and Bertha M. Rossing, was born in Argyle, Wisconsin, in 1932. She received a BA in history from St. Olaf College in 1953 and an MA in history from Radcliffe College in 1956. Lucien Robert was born to a farming family in Normandy, France, in 1927. He was one of eight children and completed apprenticeships in Paris at Prunier and Le Pavillion d'Armenonville. He arrived in the United States in 1951 having accepted a job cooking at a hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. Robert met Martha Ann Rossing in Wisconsin while she was attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They were married in Boston in 1958 and had 5 children: Andree, Jean, Pierre, Rene, and Raoul. The couple moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1957 to open the French restaurant Maître Jacques on Berkeley Street, in 1965 moving the restaurant to Emerson Place in Boston and renaming it Maître Jacques on the Charles. In 1971 they opened Ben's Café in the lower level of the Boston Old City Hall and several months later opened their formal dining room, Maison Robert, located in the main level of Boston's Old City Hall. At most of the restaurants the couple opened, Lucien Robert acted as the chef and Ann Robert managed the front of the house. A number of other chefs also worked at Maison Robert including Pierre Jamet (ca.1976-1988), Ken Duckworth (ca.2002-2004), the Roberts' daughter, Andree (ca.1989-2000), and nephew, Jacky Robert (who later opened Chez Robert in both Boston and Needham, Massachusetts). Maison Robert closed in 2004. Lucien Robert died in 2014 at the age of 87 from pancreatic cancer. Ann Robert currently resides in Newton, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in three series:


The collection consists of correspondence; menus; building plans; financial material; biographical material; awards; travel ephemera; graphic design for advertising and menus; policies and procedures; correspondence; clippings; recipes; culinary pamphlets and product catalogs; draft menus; photographs; etc. The collection documents the establishment of a series of genuine French restaurants during mid-twentieth century America.
Series I, PERSONAL, TRAVEL, COLLECTED MENUS, AND RELATED, 1967-2011 (#1.1-3.8, 25FB.1-26FB.3, 28F+B.1-28F+B.7, F+D.1, OD.1), includes personal correspondence; biographical material; culinary pamphlets; awards; collected menus; travel ephemera, etc. The bulk of this series consists of menus collected by the Robert family while traveling in the United States and Europe (1960s-1990s), many of them coming from France and California, as well as menus from the Boston area where the Roberts attended dinners of the Confrérie de la Châine des Rôtisseurs, of which both Lucien and Andree Robert were members. Both Ann and Lucien Robert traveled to France often to visit a number of wineries and restaurants, presumably to improve their wine cellar (Maison Robert was well-known for its selection of wines) and to sample new dishes at other restaurants for menu ideas. Ann Robert's trips to California and Scandinavia were presumably made for the same reasons. Included in their travel ephemera are receipts for meals at various restaurants, culinary and wine pamphlets, and postcards and pamphlets from various restaurants. Culinary pamphlets consist of membership directories for the Association des Restaurantrices-Cuisinieres, Culinary Guild of New England, and Women's Culinary Guild of New England of which Ann Robert was a member. A small amount of personal material is also included in the series, including family correspondence which consists of letters to the Robert family from Lucien Robert while traveling and letters regarding the children's schooling. Other personal material includes family photograph calendars (no appointments are recorded); awards and memberships for Andree, Ann, and Lucien Robert; biographical material for Ann and Lucien Robert; and a history of the Rossing family. Most of this material was found loose in boxes. The series is arranged with personal material appearing first, followed by an alphabetical arrangement. Folder titles were created by the archivist.
Series II, PROFESSIONAL, ca.1957-2014 (#4.1-23.5, 26FB.4-27FB.7, 28F+B.8-29F+B.5m, 24CB, F+D.1-F+D.3, OD.2, SD.1-SD.3), includes building plans; leases; financial materials; advertising, graphic design for advertising and menus; policies and procedures; correspondence; clippings; recipes; culinary pamphlets and product catalogs; draft menus; photographs; scrapbooks; etc. The bulk of this material is administrative material for the Roberts' flagship restaurant Maison Robert and Ben's Café. A small amount of material is present for their first two restaurants Mâitre Jacques and Mâitre Jacques on the Charles. Among this administrative material are building plans for both Mâitre Jacques on the Charles and the Maison Robert and Ben's Café spaces in Boston's Old City Hall; leases negotiated with the Old City Hall Landmark Corporation; financial materials some of which document income and number of dinners served at Maison Robert and Ben's Café; policies and procedures for opening and closing the restaurant, service and kitchen staff, etc.; recipes; clippings re: their restaurants and Andree, Ann, and Lucien Robert; draft menus; correspondence with patrons, vendors, and other chefs, restaurants, etc; scrapbooks document both Mâitre Jacques and Maison Robert and include photographs of Lucien, Ann, and Andree Robert and special events at their restaurants; letters from guests and friends; clippings re: the Roberts, Mâitre Jacques and Maison Robert, and special events; and menus, invitations, and related for special events at the two restaurants. Scrapbooks were originally housed in adhesive photograph albums. Albums were scanned to document their arrangement and disassembled for preservation purposes. Most of the collection was originally located in chronologically-arranged hanging files. While the arrangement was retained, more detailed folder titles were created by the archivist. Other material found in hanging folders consisted of graphic designer Karen Foget's work on advertisements, menus, and items for interior design for the Robert's restaurants and hanging folders for private dinners and specials event held at their various restaurants. Most draft material for graphic designs was removed, with final versions being retained and foldered by restaurant. Material regarding private dinners were maintained as found. Material found loose consisted of clippings of recipes and re: other restaurants and menus for the Roberts' restaurants. Most folder titles were created by the archivist. The series is arranged alphabetically, followed by oversized material removed from other folders in the series.
Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1963-2003 (PD.1-PD.23o), consists of photographs of Ann, Andree, Lucien, and Jacky Robert at work at Maison Robert, attending events, conversing with guests, at award ceremonies, etc. Also included are photographs of the Mâitre Jacques, Ben's Café, and Maison Robert dining rooms, old Boston City Hall (both before and after renovations for Maison Robert), and food prepared at Maison Robert. Other photographs document special events at their restaurants including Confrérie de la Châine des Rôtisseurs dinners and guest chef visits. Only one photograph of the Robert family is included although most of the family members appear in photographs of special events at Maison Robert. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Cooking, French
Cooks--United States
Restaurants--United States
Women cooks--United States
Women-owned business enterprises--Massachusetts
Maison Robert
Mâitre Jacques
Mâitre Jacques on the Charles
Robert, Andree
Robert, Lucien, 1926-2014