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Frank B. Robinson and Psychiana

Digital Memories

With the new year, we thought we’d take a little time to reflect on some blog posts of the past. These posts were originally a part of an earlier version of a blog from the 1990s and early 2000s, known as Digital Memories. We thought the launch of the Idaho Harvester was the perfect opportunity to re-post some of these and ensure that all the work our staff has done over the years is available in one place. We hope you enjoy these Digital Memories!

The Strange Autobiography of Frank B. Robinson
The Strange Autobiography of Frank B. Robinson

Psychiana, founded by Frank B. Robinson in Moscow, Idaho, in 1929, became, over the next two decades, the world’s largest mail-order religion. Robinson advocated a personal appreciation for what he called the “God Power” within.Through careful study of his bi-weekly lessons he promised happiness, health, and success with a money back guarantee.

The lessons were advertised in over 180 magazines and 140 newspapers. Responses to eager students exceeded 60,000 mailings a day. In addition, Robinson wrote twenty-five books, traveled the nation giving speeches, and used the power of radio pass on his message of hope and triumph through self-help.

There are some that wonder whether he believed in Psychiana even though he was perhaps its greatest success story. Through its power he became wealthy. Attacks on his establishment for mail fraud and attempts to deport him as an illegal alien were all turned aside. And though he lived well, with a big house and fancy car, he is more often remembered locally for his charities and benefactions to individuals and to the community.

After “Doc” Robinson’s death in 1948, the Psychiana organization withered; closing for good in 1952. The Robinson family donated eight linear feet of Psychiana materials to the University of Idaho Library in 1955 and ordered them sealed for twenty-five years. They were opened in 1980 but contained little in the way of surprises.

For more information about Frank Robinson and Psychiana, see: Keith C. Petersen. Psychiana: the psychological religion. Moscow, Latah County Historical Society, 1991. Also, see the inventory for the Frank B. Robinson Papers, 1929-1951, in the University of Idaho Library. In addition, a Web-page for Psychiana has been developed by John Black of Moscow.

Written May 1995 for the library’s Digital Memories website.

Book cover: The Strange Autobiography of Frank B. Robinson, Founder of the Psychiana Religion. Moscow, Idaho. 2nd edition, 1949. Special Collections, University of Idaho Library.

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