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About The Bob Simms Collection Exhibition and Online Exhibit

Press Release

Overview of Collection Content



The University of Miami Acquires the Bob Simms Collection: Press Release

Coral Gables, Florida (February 14, 2008) -- The University of Miami Libraries have acquired the Bob Simms Collection. This new addition to the Libraries' Special Collections chronicles the life and career of Robert H. Simms, whose contributions to the South Florida Community are immeasurable. In honor of this acquisition and Black History Month, the Libraries will present a special exhibition of the Collection and an opening event at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, 2008.


The Bob Simms Collection documents the life and activities of Robert H. Simms in the black communities in Coconut Grove and Miami and reflects his work with the Community Relations Board and the Defense Race Relations Institute. The Collection also contains campaign materials from Leah Simms, the first African American female judge in Miami-Dade County, and the "Glory in the Grove" photographs of people and events at the George Washington Carver elementary and high schools in Coconut Grove before desegregation. "The Simms Collection will add dynamic depth and give students and faculty a rich resource for scholarship and creativity", said William D. Walker, Dean of Libraries. "We are very pleased the Collection is now a part of the Libraries' resources. This significant acquisition will enhance our Florida collections and our African American archives." Other related collections and archives found in the Libraries Special Collections include the Seymour Samet Papers, the Ross Beiler Papers, William C. Baggs Papers, and the Florida Photograph Collections.


The exhibition The Bob Simms Collection: An Activist's Life and Legacy, opens on February 15th, on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library. This display offers a snapshot of the Collection and an overview of some of the research resources it includes. The opening event and celebration will be held on February 28th at 6:00 p.m. in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion in the Richter Library. Speakers at the event include Maria R. Estorino, previous Interim Head of Special Collections, Dr. Chanelle Rose, faculty member at Florida Memorial University and recent graduate of the University of Miami, and Robert H. Simms, teacher, historian, photographer, and social engineer.


Bob Simms was born in Snow Hill, Alabama in 1927. He moved to Florida in 1953 to join the faculty of the George Washington Carver schools in Coconut Grove and later served as Executive Director of the Metro Dade Community Relations Board from 1968 to 1983. Mr. Simms developed the Miami Inner-City Minority Experience (MICME) for the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s and led efforts to create and implement the Inner City Marine Project (now known as the Mast Academy). With his late wife Aubrey Watkins Simms, he was a founding member of the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City and is the proud father of the first black woman to serve as a judge in Florida, Leah Simms. Mr. Simms is an Emeritus Member of the University of Miami, Board of Trustees.


As a dynamic and integral part of the academic scholarly enterprise, the University of Miami Libraries are central to the University's mission to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. The Libraries seek to provide high quality information services, instruction, and resources to our primary clientele: the students, faculty, researchers, and staff of the University of Miami.


William Walker
Otto G. Richter Library,
University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida

Broad Overview of Collection Content


Robert H. Simms, former President and CEO of Bob Simms Associates, Inc., is widely acknowledged as a social engineer/social mechanic. Bob is recognized for his demonstrated skills as a communicator, problem solver, and creator of innovative community programs for public and private sector institutions.

He is the architect of the "Minority Experience" Management Training Program which was featured in the April 1988 Conference of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and "Presstime," the journal of the American Newspaper Publisher's Association. His clients have included: Knight Ridder Institute of Training, USA Today, Newsday, The American Newspaper Publishers Association, The American Society of Newspapers Editors, The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, The Charlotte Observer, Press-Telegram (Long Beach, Ca), The Dade County Public Schools, Metro Dade County, Williamson Cadillac Company, and others.

Previously in his former company, Bob Simms Associates, Inc., he served as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Defense Race Relations Institute at Patrick Air Force Base for four years as a designer of their "field experience." His three day program, "The Miami Inner City Minority Experience," explored the values, culture, strengths and mores of Miami-Dade County's diverse population. His models offered constructive alternatives for understanding and valuing the contribution of each group.

Bob has utilized his skills as a Social Engineer to create community impact programs to include:

The Inner City Marine Project: (which later became the M.A.S.T. academy) Partners For Youth
The Miami Chapter, National Junior Tennis League
Network, Inc.
"Unsung Hero" Award
"Make a Difference" Recognition Program
"IMPACT" Out Reach Program
West Coconut Grove Youth Development Program
Glory In The Grove

Prior to his work as an external consultant, Bob served as Executive Director of the Metropolitan Dade County Community Relations Board for 16 years. His community involvement covers the broad spectrum of Dade County's civic institutions and organizations, ranging from the Orange Bowl Committee, the University of Miami, Board of Trustees, to community based organizations.

Bob is currently the Advisor on Diversity at Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, Florida.


Exhibit Curators:


Beatrice Skokan - Archival Coordinator

Jameatris Johnson - Information, Research and Instructional Librarian

Chelsea Jacks, Student Assistant - Special Collections


Special Collections Staff

Rochelle Pienn - Interim Head of Special Collections

Caroline Harzewski - Collections Assistant


Scanning and Metadata


Kyle Rimkus - Digital Projects Librarian

Robert Largaespada - Scanning and Data Management Technician

Marcelo Lopes - Scanning and Data Management Technician

Olga Espejo - Cataloging and Metadata Librarian

Judith Rabkin - Cataloging and Metadata Librarian


Online Exhibit


Lyn MacCorkle - Digital Project Development and Repositories Librarian

Alex Thacker - Student Web Development Assistant, Digital Project Development


Archival Advisor


Maria Estorino - Deputy Chair and Operations Manager for the Cuban Heritage Collection