This collection consists primarily of approximately 1,150 incoming personal and professional letters received by John Barbour, an Episcopal minister and professor at Berkeley Divinity School, concerning religious life in Connecticut in the late 1800s. The papers also include 5 photographs, 4 printed portraits, and a small group of additional printed items.
The Correspondence series spans most of Barbour's career. The bulk is comprised primarily of letters John Barbour received between 1883 and 1899, reflecting the everyday lives of clergy in Connecticut and New England, as well as Barbour's work with the Episcopal Church and at Berkeley Divinity School. Many of the letters contain professional inquiries and reports of the writers' daily lives and work with local churches. Several relate to Barbour's role as the librarian of the Berkeley Divinity School, including factual questions and inquiries about specific volumes. Other letters request his services as a minister, including several from the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane in Middletown, Connecticut, and from other clergy requesting substitutes. Additionally, many of the letters concern religious education and mention prominent bishops and others in the Episcopal Church.
Two early items relate to John Barbour's father, Henry S. Barbour, and to administrative affairs of the town of Torrington, Connecticut, in 1852 and 1857. The series also includes a timetable for trains between Hartford, Connecticut, and New York City, and a manuscript complaint from attorney John R. Wittig to the Rt. Rev. Bishop Williams, issued against John Barbour, claiming that Barbour colluded with Wittig's wife in a conspiracy to "get rid" of him and seize his property (March 17, 1885).
The Photographs and portraits series holds 5 carte-de-visite photographs of members of the Barbour family, including Henry S., Sylvester, Herman H., Julia, and Joseph L. Barbour, as well as 4 printed portraits of Episcopal clergy.
The Printed items series contains biographical sketches of bishops, Episcopal clergy, and other figures, removed from published books and newspapers. Among those represented are Bishop John Williams and librarian Melvil Dewey. The series also includes approximately 20 invitations, programs, circular letters, and advertisements. One advertising card for the Fannie C. Paddock Memorial Hospital of Tacoma, Washington Territory, bears an engraved image of the facility.