Skip to main content

Robert H. Knight Collection

Identifier: MSS-2018-04

Scope and Contents

This collection of miscellanous materials contains some correspondence, memorabilia, and photographs. It consists of 2 archival boxes (.75 linear feet), plus 3 oversized items.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1966 - 2010


Biographical / Historical

Robert H. Knight was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on 27 February 1919. He graduated from Yale University in 1940, where he joined the ROTC, and was commissioned in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After graduating, he reported for active military duty. Following the war, he attended the University of Virginia School of Law. As a student at UVA he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and was admitted to the Order of the Coif. In 1947 he joined the Law School faculty, and taught for two years.

In 1949, he joined Shearman & Sterling, the New York City law firm, becoming partner in 1956. In 1959, during the Eisenhower Administration, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. In 1961, he served as General Counsel for the Department of the Treasury under C. Douglas Dillon. That same year, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy asked Mr. Knight to organize the release of Cubans captured in the Bay of Pigs invasion, by working with U.S. companies to donate baby food and drugs to exchange for the prisoners.

Mr. Knight was indispensable in the global development of Sherman & Sterling. He was head of the firm from 1982 to 1985. He attracted foreign clients, traveled the world, “his vision of the international dimension of the practice of law made him the architect of the law firm that Shearman & Sterling is today.” (Robert H. Knight: A Reflection by Rogan Weerasinghe, see: Robert Knight Remembrance, MSS 2018-04, Box. 1).

He was Deputy Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1976-1977, and Chairman from 1977-1983. He was member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he served on the board of The Asia Foundation, counsel to United Technologies Corporation; director of the international board of Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corporation; director of I-Corps, National Leadership Bank, Mercator, Inc., Citizen Exchange Council; and a member of the Intelsat Arbitration Panel. He was a member of the board of directors of International Volunteer Services; British Steel Corporation, and the University of Virginia Law School Foundation. He was a member of the American Bar Association; Federal Bar Association, International Bar Association, Inter-American Bar Association, Association of Bar of City of New York, New York County Lawyers Association, International Law Association, Washington Institute Foreign Affairs, Pilgrims Club, Links Club, World Trade Center Club, River Club (New York City), Army and Navy Club, Metropolitan Club (Washington), Round Hill Club (Greenwich, Connecticut), Ocean Club (Ocean Ridge, Florida), and Farmington Club (Virginia). (

In 1964, he became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Foundation. In 1971, he became the President of the Law School Foundation, a position he held for 18 years. Under his mandate, the University of Virginia Law School endowment grew considerably, “the support provided by that endowment and by the example that he set is indispensable to the standing of the University of Virginia as a law school of the first rank.” (“Robert H. Knight ’47 A Reflection by Robert Scott,” see: Robert Knight Remembrance, MSS 2018-04, Box. 1).

Mr. Knight died September 28, 2006.


.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Small collection of memorabilia (1966-2010) with some correspondence and photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection of was donated to the University of Virginia School of Law Library in the summer of 2018 by Mr. Knight’s son, E. Whitney Knight.

Cultural context

Genre / Form

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States