Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John Barbour Papers, 1840-1899

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: John Barbour papers
Creator: Barbour, John Humphrey, 1854-1900
Inclusive dates: 1840-1899
Bulk dates: 1883-1899
Extent: 1.25 linear feet
This collection consists primarily of incoming personal and professional correspondence received by John Barbour, an Episcopal minister and professor at Berkeley Divinity School, concerning religious life in Connecticut in the late 1800s.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1991. M-2662b.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

John Barbour Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Photographs and portraits
  • Series III: Printed items

The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically.


John Humphrey Barbour was born on May 29, 1854, the son of Henry S. Barbour (1822-1891), town clerk in Torrington, Connecticut, and his wife, Pamela J. Bartholomew (1827-1899). John Barbour had one sister, Lucy Amelia (b. 1863), and one brother, Edward Willis (1857-1861). John studied at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, before graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1873. In 1876, he earned a degree in divinity from Berkeley Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, and he began his ministerial career at the Episcopal Church in Parkville, Connecticut. He became a professor at Berkeley Divinity School around 1889 and also served as the school's librarian. He married Annie Gray on May 7, 1878, and they had three surviving children: Ellen Gray, Henry Gray, and Paul Humphrey. Paul also became a minister. John Humphrey Barbour died on April 29, 1900.

Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    • Berkeley Divinity School.
    • Christian education.
    • Clergy--New England.
    • Connecticut--Religious life and customs.
    • Connecticut Hospital for the Insane.
    • Dewey, Melvil, 1851-1931.
    • Episcopal Church--Clergy.
    • Episcopal Church--Connecticut.
    • Episcopalians--United States.
    • Library science--United States.
    • New England--Religious life and customs.
    • Torrington (Conn.)
    • Williams, J. (John), 1817-1899.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Barbour, Henry S., 1822-1891.
    • Barbour, Herman H.
    • Barbour, Joseph L.
    • Barbour, Julia.
    • Barbour, Sylvester.
    • Episcopal Church--Clergy.
    • Fannie C. Paddock Memorial Hospital (Washington Territory)
    Genre Terms:
    • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
    • Circular letters.
    • Engravings (prints)
    • Invitations.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Photographs.
    • Portraits.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-30
     February 20, 1852-April 29, 1890
    Box   2 Folders   1-26
     May 3, 1890-November 6, 1899
    Box   3 Folders   1-7
    Photographs and portraits [series]
    Box   3 Folder   8
    Printed items [series]
    Box   3 Folders   9-10
      August 12, 1840-August 30, 1891, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Barbour, Sylvester. Reminiscences by Sylvester Barbour, a Native of Canton, Conn. Fifty Years a Lawyer... [Hartford, Connecticut]: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1903.