George W. Baber Papers: 1942-1970
Summary Information
Title: George W. Baber Papers
Creator: Baber, George W. (George Wilbur), 1898-1970
Dates: 1942-1970
Extent: 1 linear foot
Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, pastor of various churches in Michigan and elsewhere. Correspondence, prayers and speeches, clippings, and programs; collected A.M.E. minutes, published material, and miscellaneous; and photographs illustrative of his career activities.
Call number: 8538 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid prepared by: Chris Leonard

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of Mrs. Elvira Baber (donor no. 7120) and came to the library through Reverend Kenneth Hill.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., George W. Baber Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Bishop George Wilbur Baber was born in 1898 in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of an African Methodist Episcopal minister. He attended Wilberforce University and was licensed to preach in 1919 by his father. Admitted to the Michigan Conference in 1923, he built churches and served as pastor in LaPorte, Indiana, Benton Harbor, Michigan, and Flint, Michigan.

In 1934, Baber became pastor of the Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Detroit. Under his leadership, Ebenezer grew from 600 to 6000 members by 1944, making it the largest pastorate in the A.M.E. denomination.

At the General Conference of 1944, Baber was made 63rd bishop of the church. After brief service in Baltimore and Arkansas, Baber was assigned to the Fourth Episcopal District, encompassing Michigan, Canada, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Then in 1956, he was reassigned to the First District, which ran from Philadelphia through New England.

Barber's final assignment was to the Second District in 1964. It included the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Based in the nation's capital, Baber became vocal in national politics. He publicly called on A.M.E. ministers to back President Johnson's 1965 urban housing program. And in 1968, he was an active supporter of Hubert Humphrey.

Baber has been president of both the A.M.E. Bishops Council and General Board. He also served on the board of Kittrell College and as A.M.E. delegate to the New Delhi conference of the World Council of Churches.

Baber first married in 1918 to Alma Marie Wims who died in 1954. He remarried in 1955 to Elvira Mayfield Derrick. Baber is the father of two sons and three daughters.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The papers of Bishop George Wilbur Baber are divided into seven series: biographical, correspondence, prayers and speeches, clippings, programs, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and photographs.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • African Americans.
  • Clergy -- Michigan.
  • Afro-American clergy.
  • Afro-Americans.
  • Church vestments.
  • Clergymen.
  • Egypt.
  • Government officials -- United States.
  • India.
  • Israel.
  • Rites and ceremonies.
  • Photographs.
  • Baber, George W. (George Wilbur), 1898-1970.
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • Agnew, Spiro T., 1918-1996.
  • Baber, George W. (George Wilbur), 1898-1970.
  • Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978.
  • Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963.
  • Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979.
  • Williams, G. Mennen, 1911-1988.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Biographical [series]

The Biographical series consists of general background material on the life of Bishop Baber. Included are newspaper obituaries, awards and certificates, and a biographical pamphlet published in 1944 upon Baber's selection as a bishop.

Box   1  
Biographical material
Correspondence 1945-1971 [series]

All correspondence to and from Baber is arranged chronologically in the Correspondence series. There is some correspondence with individual church members, particularly before 1965. The bulk of the series begins in 1965 and deals mostly with the administrative operations of the church and Kittrell College. There is also correspondence with political and religious leaders dealing with political and philosophical issues.

Box   1  
1945-January 1971 (12 folders)
Prayers and Speeches [series]

Prayers and speeches by Bishop Baber are found in the Prayers and Speeches.

Box   1  
Scattered documents
Clippings [series]

Clippings series includes press clippings about Baber.

Box   1  
1950-1970, undated (4 folders)
Programs 1957-1968 [series]

Programs come from various events attended by Baber.

Box   1  
Scattered programs
African Methodist Episcopal Church [series]

The African Methodist Episcopal Church series contains a variety of church papers and publications which do not relate directly to the life of Bishop Baber. Included are the minutes from meetings of church leaders, pamphlets and publications, and a chronological series of miscellaneous church papers.

Box   1  
General Conference 1944
Box   1  
Council of Bishops 1956-1966 (8 folders)
Box   1  
General Board
Box   1  
Pamphlets 1962-1972
Box   1  
Missionary Magazine 1957-1958
Box   1  
Voice of Missions 1957-1963
Box   1  
The Anvil 1966
Box   1  
Miscellaneous A.M.E. papers 1942-1968, undated (5 folders)
Photographs [series]

Photographs include personal portraits, family photographs, award presentations to political leaders and others, portraits with fellow A.M.E. clergy, and photographs from Baber's trips to the Holy Lands and to New Delhi for a conference of the World Council of Churches. The series includes photos of Baber with political dignitaries John F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Spiro T. Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller, and G. Mennen Williams.

Box   1  
Portraits of George W. Baber
Box   1  
With family
Box   1  
Award ceremonies
Box   1  
With religious leaders
Box   1  
Trip to Holy Lands
Box   1  
World Council of Churches Conference, New Delhi