06 Jun Paul Robeson, Paul Robeson Jr., and Eslanda Robeson, 1930
Collection of the Historical Society of Princeton
By the time these photographs of the Robeson family were taken (on the occasion of the Robeson’s ninth wedding anniversary), Paul, “Essie,” and Paul, Jr. were living in London. In 1928, Robeson’s performance in Show Boat in London catapulted him to fame; he became one of England’s most popular and sought-after artists. The family found that city to be much more conducive to Robeson’s artistic development than any city in the United States.
Although the Robeson family made London their primary residence in the 1930s, Paul’s concert tours and acting career did bring him back to his birthplace of Princeton. On October 31, 1935, for example, Robeson performed at the McCarter Theatre. The proceeds of that concert benefited the Witherspoon Y: tickets were priced from $1.10 to $2.20. Robeson first met his future friend, Albert Einstein, backstage at this concert. Robeson and Einstein both shared a hatred of fascism and racism and together supported Human Rights and Civil Rights causes for the remainder of their lives.