Skip to main content

Forbes Hill Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SCA-0037

Scope and Contents

The Forbes Hill Collection consists of books and pamphlets from Forbes’ personal library, news clippings, and correspondence. The bulk of materials range from the 1940s to the 1960s, with some materials from the 2000s. Forbes’ personal library reflects his life as an activist and academic, with materials covering leftist political movements of the 1940s and 50s, and other materials relating to scholarship in politics, rhetoric, and literature.

Of note are the News Clippings Series, which consists of several articles related to Forbes’ employment at Queens College, and the Correspondence Series, which consists of letters from two pivotal periods in Forbes life--his time spent in Georgia campaigning for Henry A. Wallace in 1948, and his being hired at Queens College in 1964.


  • 1914-2008, bulk 1946-1964



Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.


The Forbes Hill Collection is the property of the Queens College Libraries. All intellectual rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

Biographical Note

Forbes Iverson Hill was born in Berkeley, California in June of 1928 and grew up in Southern and Central California. He graduated from Gonzales Union High School, with a class that numbered 18 students.

Forbes’ college years lasted longer than most. He attended several different institutions, including San Francisco State and Chicago’s Roosevelt College, as he worked toward what might later have been called “finding himself.” He paid for college with summer jobs in agriculture and on the railroads. He loved to tell stories about picking cherries, shelling peas, working in the cannery, building track, and traveling all over the country meeting all kinds of people, from migrant laborers to fellow intellectuals. During this period, he became active in progressive politics and causes. In 1948, working with the Henry A. Wallace campaign in Augusta, Georgia, he was beaten by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Eventually he graduated from San Diego State College, going on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. at Cornell University, specializing in classical rhetoric. Throughout his life, he embraced learning in numerous other fields, particularly science and nature. His children later joked about using him as a “living encyclopedia.”

Forbes taught at Williams College and at the University of California, Santa Barbara before coming to Queens College in 1964. In the course of his 43 years teaching at Queens College, the department he served evolved from the Department of Speech to the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences to the Department of Media Studies. Forbes changed with the times. While he continued to teach occasional courses in the history of rhetoric, and argumentation and public speaking, by the end of his career he also relished teaching courses in political communication and media, law, and ethics.

During the 1970s and early 80s, Forbes was active in the Professional Staff Congress, the professor’s union of the City University of New York. He was chairman of the Queens College Chapter for many years. He also chaired the Department of Communication Arts for two years. Forbes wrote a major section on Aristotle’s rhetoric for the earlier editions of A Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric, a classic and enduring textbook in the field. He also wrote a number of articles on Aristotelian criticism, some of which excited much controversy. However, his great passion was for classroom teaching. Although he retired in 2003, he continued to teach part-time until just a few weeks before his death in November 2008.

Forbes lived in Brooklyn for the last 31 years of his life. He came to love the borough and was active in local politics and many other community activities. He was a member of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, where he served on the Council and regularly sang in the choir. Retirement and a reduced teaching schedule provided the time to sing in two additional choirs: the Brooklyn Community Chorus and the Congregation Beth Elohim Singers. In later years, he also enjoyed traveling and, most of all, spending time with his family.

Forbes met his wife, Lyn, at Queens College and together they team-taught a multimedia course, The Role of Rhetoric in American Society, for five years in the 1970s. In addition to his son, Harry, from a previous marriage, the couple had two children, Stephanie and Tim.


2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Forbes Hill Collection contains printed materials, news clippings, and correspondence related to the life of Forbes Hill, a political activist and academic who taught at Queens College from 1964-2008.

Arrangement Note

The Forbes Hill Collection is comprised of three series, the first having three subseries.

Series I: Correspondence

Series II: News Clippings

Series III: Publications

Series IV: Printed Material


Donated by Lyn Hill in 2013.



Forbes Hill Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us