Robb Burlage Papers, 1956-1973


Robb Burlage, civil rights and political activist and resident fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C., was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 8, 1937. The son of Henry Burlage, professor of pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, and dean of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Texas, he was raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Austin, Texas. Burlage attended high school in Austin, and college at the University of Texas, where he was editor of the student newspaper, University of Alabama (1961), University of Tennessee (1962) and University of Kentucky (1962). In 1960 and 1961, Burlage also taught at the University of Alabama, and worked for the Alabama State Planning Department. Burlage later pursued his graduate studies in economics at Harvard University.

Burlage's political activity began when he organized civil rights groups in the South from 1959 to 1961. He was active in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) from its organization, and attended the Port Huron founding convention in 1962. From 1963 to 1964, Burlage worked with SDS's Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP) in Appalachia. For many years he also served on the SDS National Council. In 1965 Burlage began work with the Health Policy Advisory Center of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). He became a resident fellow at IPS in 1967. In addition, Burlage continued his interest in Appalachia; he served on the staff of the Tennessee State Planning Commission, and initiated an Appalachian program known as People's Appalachia. In the course of this latter project Burlage corresponded with Todd Gitlin concerning urban migrants, and wrote a review of Gitlin's book, Uptown: Urban Poor in Chicago. During the 1970's, Burlage continued his involvement in Appalachian work, and with labor and health issues at IPS. In June, 1975, he attended the conference on Public Planning sponsored by Mayor Paul Soglin's office in Madison, Wisconsin.

Burlage wrote a number of pamphlets for SDS in the early 1960's, a book entitled New York City's Municipal Hospitals (1967), and co-authored a book with his father, Four Walls of Pharmacy (1975).