Utah History Encyclopedia


By Doris F. Salmon
Born in Coalville, Summit County, Utah, on 19 January 1878, James William Robison graduated from Brigham Young University and for a time was principal of Uintah Academy in Vernal and Wasatch High School in Heber City. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1912 and engaged in the practice of law in Provo from 1912 to 1933.

During World War I, Robison was food administrator for Utah County and also served as county attorney for Utah County from 1918 to 1922. In 1924 he was a candidate for Utah attorney general. Governor George Dern appointed him to the University of Utah Board of Regents in 1925 and he served on the board until 1935.

James Robison was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1932 and was reelected for six succeeding terms through 1946. He was noted as a staunch supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. As a congressman, he served as chairman of the House Roads Committee and was chairman and ranking member of the Public Lands and Irrigation Committee. Robison was credited with helping pass much reclamation legislation affecting Utah and was a strong spokesman for the establishment of Hill Air Force Base. While in Washington, he also served as director of the Grazing Division of the Bureau of Land Management from 1947 to 1949.

His business interests in Utah included the Provo Building and Loan Association, of which he was a director. He also served for many years as vice president of the Springville-Mapleton Sugar Company.

He married Birda Billings on 16 August 1905, and they were the parents of four children. Robison died at age eighty-six in Escondido, California, on 2 December 1964 and was interred in the Provo City Cemetery.