Robert Byrnes attained Bachelor of Arts degree, graduating from Amherst College in 1939. He continued his studies and in 1940 obtained Master of Arts degree at Harvard University. Seven years later, in 1947, Byrnes became a Doctor of Philosophy. In 1964 he got Doctor of Hebrew Literature degree at Amherst College. Three years later, Byrnes attained Doctor of Literature degree, graduating from St. Mary's College.
Byrnes started his career in 1943, working as an economic analyst at Foreign Economic Administration, a post he held till 1944, when Robert went on to serve at Military Intelligence. In 1945 he was appointed an instructor at Swarthmore College, where he served until 1946. The same year, in 1946, Byrnes started to work as a visiting lecturer at the same college, a position he held until 1948. Beginning from 1946 to 1953 he was an assistant to associate professor at Rutgers University.
Robert also served as a senior fellow of Columbia University from 1948 till 1950.
Since 1951 Byrnes worked at Central Intelligence Agency. Three years later, in 1954, he was appointed a director of Mid-European Studies Center in New York, United States, a post Robert held till 1956, when he started to serve as a professor of history at Indiana University. Robert Byrnes held the post to 1967.
Robert was a chairman of history department at Indiana University from 1958 to 1965, when he became the first director of the university's International Affairs Center, a post he held till 1967.
He founded the Russian and East European Institute in 1959, directing it until 1963, and again from 1971 to 1975, as it grew into a leading American study center.
Robert Byrnes was appointed a distinguished professor of history at Indiana University in 1967. The same year he started to serve as a trustee of Alverno College, where Byrnes worked to 1976. In 1975 Robert was promoted to the president of Alverno College for just one year. From 1968 till 1974 he held the position of trustee at Boston College. The following year, Robert began to work at Radio Liberty, where he stayed for seven years.
In 1981 Robert Francis Byrnes was appointed a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a position he held during the next six years. In 1988 he became a research fellow at Australian National University, where Byrnes stayed for one year.
Byrnes was the author and editor of several writings. The most famous of them are Anti-Semitism in Modern France: The Prologue of the Dreyfus Affair, Bibliogrpahy of American Publications on East Central Europe, U.S. Policy Toward Eastern Europe And The Soviet Union: Selected Essays, 1956-1988 and others.
Robert was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies.
American History Association , United States
1963 - 1967
American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies , United States
1978 - 1979
Institute for Advanced Study , United States
The Hoover Institution at Stanford University , United States
1989 - 1995
Guggenheim Foundation , United States
American Council of Learned Societies , United States
1962 - 1963
Robert Byrnes married Eleanor Frances Jewell on June 6, 1942. The couple had 7 children – Shaun, Sheila Byrnes Bowles, Sally Byrnes Neylon, Susan Byrnes Wallace, Robin Byrnes Huntington, Charles and James.