Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Barnard Family Papers, 1807-1969, bulk 1850-1911

Summary Information


Correspondence, financial records, and legal documents of the Barnard family of Sheffield, Massachusetts. Frederick A. P. Barnard (1809-1889) was President of Columbia College from 1864-1889. His brother John Gross Barnard (1815-1882) was a career officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers who served as a Brevet Major General for the Union during the Civil War. Anna Eliza Barnard was John Gross Barnard's second wife, who raised four children and managed the family's affairs during her husband's last illness, 1879-1882. Augustus Porter Barnard, the son of John G. Barnard and his first wife, was a mining engineer.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1918
Bib ID 13086443 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Barnard family
Title Barnard Family Papers, 1807-1969, bulk 1850-1911
Physical Description 20 linear feet (31 manuscript boxes, 2 flat boxes, and 1 map case folder)
Language(s) Primarily in English, with a small amount of material in French.

This collection is located on-site.

One folder of telegrams in Box 26 is restricted for preservation purposes. Researchers must use access photocopies. Materials in Boxes 1 and 2 are also restricted until after Conservation treatment.



This collection is arranged in 5 series. Materials within each series are arranged chronologically.


Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of the Barnard family's personal correspondence amongst themselves and with extended family and friends. Publications and correspondence about scientific, engineering, mathematical, and other academic concepts appear among the effects of Frederick A. P. Barnard and John Gross Barnard. The collection also includes bills, receipts, account books, estate summaries, and correspondence with the family's property and financial managers. Legal documents, primarily consisting of materials related to the Porter family case (1884-1888) and the estates of Barnard family members, are also included.

Frederick A. P. Barnard's professional papers are not included in the Barnard Family papers. While some of the correspondence addresses topics related to his career and professional interests, the bulk of his professional correspondence is located in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Frederick A. P. Barnard Papers.

  • Series I: Frederick A. P. Barnard, 1850-1891, 1977, 1991

    Series I is composed of Frederick A. P. Barnard's correspondence and personal materials. The bulk of the correspondence is composed of Frederick's letters to his wife, Margaret McMurray Barnard. The letters discuss issues related to university politics and administration, family issues, and Frederick's research. The majority of Frederick's correspondence from the year 1884 relates to the Porter family case. Other frequent correspondents include John G. Barnard, Sarah Gross Barnard Porter, and the Mississippi politician Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus (L. Q. C.) Lamar.

    Though Barnard was a slaveholder during his years in Alabama and Mississippi, the collection includes little reference to this fact. One exception is in a letter written to his wife on December 12, 1851. Barnard describes an incident where several students at the University of Alabama whipped an enslaved man named Moses because they suspected him of reporting one of them for "[laying] felonious hands on a turkey belonging to Dr. Manly." Other letters from 1857-1858 refer obliquely to a controversy regarding Barnard's "respect for Southern institutions" and its impact on his relationship with the University of Mississippi's trustees. Frederick's correspondence with his brother, John G., in 1860-1861 provides a firsthand account of his political leanings regarding slavery and secession, but does not address his own participation in the institution.

  • Series II: John Gross Barnard, 1823-1913, 1961

    Series II contains the correspondence of John G. (JGB) and Anna Eliza "Widie" Barnard (AEB), as well as financial records and materials related to John's professional interests. The series also includes three letters written by Jane Elizabeth Brand Barnard, John G.'s first wife, dating from 1851 and 1853.

    John G. and Anna Eliza corresponded frequently when they were apart. Their Civil War correspondence includes details about John G.'s experiences in the field, the internal politics of the Army, and contemporary political issues. It also discusses family issues, including the births and deaths of the couple's children, and the difficulties of having Confederate partisans as family members. John G. traveled extensively in Europe in 1860 and 1870, studying engineering; his letters to Anna Eliza during those years describe his studies, often with diagrams. The Barnard children wrote letters to John G. as soon as they were able to write. Their letters provide a firsthand glimpse at the interests and experiences of nineteenth century children. Other frequent correspondents include the couple's siblings; Yale mathematics professor Benjamin Peirce, publisher D. Van Nostrand, composer William Staunton, and the engineers W. P. Trowbridge and Henry Coppée.

    Financial records include deeds and other property ownership records, wills and summaries of estates in trust, bank account books, and bills and receipts for everyday expenses. Correspondence related to financial management is grouped alongside other financial records in Series II. Frequent correspondents on financial matters include S. S. Robinson, who managed John G.'s interests in the Sacramento Valley Railroad Company; Ramsay McHenry and J. Howard McHenry, who managed property left to Anna Eliza in trust by her first husband; H. M. Trueheart and Co., who managed property owned by John G. and his heirs in Texas; Frederick B. Brand, who was responsible for John G.'s property in New Orleans; and the real estate manager Thomas Hill. While deeds and other records of property acquisition and transfer are stored separately, records of property maintenance, taxes, and disputes are stored alongside other financial records from the years in which they took place.

    A small number of manuscript and professional items belonging to John G. Barnard are also included in Series II. However, the majority of his professional papers were separated from the collection and sold at auction in 2017, prior to the collection's arrival at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

  • Series III: Anna Eliza Barnard, 1880-1912

    Series III is composed of Anna Eliza "Widie" Barnard's correspondence and financial records dating from 1880 to 1912. The bulk of the materials date from 1880 through 1884. These dates correspond to the years she acted as the head of her household: during her husband John G. Barnard's last illness, and after his death on May 14, 1882. Her earlier correspondence and financial records are located in Series II.

    Topics of correspondence in Series III include John G. Barnard's illness, which seems to have had physical and mental components; the education of John G. and Widie's children, John H., Jennie, and Nannie; the travels of Barnard family members and friends; and the welfare of Christ Church in Sheffield, Massachusetts, of which the Barnard family were members. A small amount of correspondence dating from 1884 to roughly 1888 deals with the Porter family dispute, including a draft of an 1887 letter by Anna E. Barnard to the editor of the New York Times. Frequent correspondents include Charlotte Ramsay Hall, Jane Brand Barnard, Anna McHenry Barnard, Augustus Porter Barnard, John Hall Barnard, Sydney Carr Cary, Sophia McHenry Brand, Jane Margaret Carr Cary, Anna Ledoux, H. Castegrier, Mary E. Dewey, William W. R. Hall, and Jane Augusta Porter.

    Financial records in Series III document management of the Barnard family's financial and real estate assets and the distribution of John G. Barnard's estate. Records of family members' day-to-day expenses, especially those incurred during Anna E. Barnard's 1882-1883 travels in Europe, are included. The series also includes records related to the Sheffield Cemetery Association, of which Anna E. Barnard was a founding member. Correspondence related to financial management is grouped alongside other financial records in Series III.

  • Series IV: Augustus Porter Barnard, 1856-1911

    Series IV contains correspondence, financial records, and legal documents belonging to Augustus Porter Barnard, son of John G. Barnard and his first wife, Jane Elizabeth Brand Barnard. The bulk of the series relates to the Porter family case (1884-1888), a legal dispute between two of Augustus Porter Barnard's cousins, in which he intervened. Other materials include documents related to settling the estates of two other relatives, Amaron Ledoux (1885-1886) and Augusta Porter Wiggins (1904-1905), and a small amount of Augustus Porter Barnard's personal correspondence.

  • Series V: Other Barnard family members, 1807-1969

    Series V contains materials belonging to other members of the extended Barnard family. It includes early family correspondence dating from 1807 through the 1840s, mostly belonging to Robert Foster Barnard and his wife, Augusta Porter Barnard. A folder of undated speeches and writings, possibly dating from Robert Foster Barnard's tenure in the Massachusetts Senate, are also included. The remainder the series is composed of correspondence and personal materials belonging to John Hall Barnard, Jennie Barnard, and Anna "Nannie" McHenry Barnard O'Connor—children of John G. and Anna Eliza Barnard—and their families.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

One folder of telegrams in Box 26 is restricted for preservation purposes. Researchers must use access photocopies. Materials in Boxes 1 and 2 are also restricted until after Conservation treatment.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Barnard Family Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Frederick A. P. Barnard Papers: The Barnard Family Papers includes Frederick A. P. Barnard's personal correspondence—primarily letters to his wife, Margaret, and brother, John—while the Frederick A. P. Barnard Papers comprises his professional correspondence and manuscripts. Accordingly, three boxes of professional papers were separated from the Barnard Family Papers and added to the Frederick A. P. Barnard Papers. At the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

F. A. P. Barnard Collection: A collection composed of photocopies of correspondence from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Frederick A. P. Barnard Papers and a small group of original documents related to Frederick A. P. and John Gross Barnard. In the Archives and Special Collections of the J. D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi.

Burton Norvell Harrison Family Papers: Family papers of Burton Norvell Harrison, nephew and frequent correspondent of Frederick A. P. and John G. Barnard, and personal secretary to Confederate president Jefferson Davis. At the Library of Congress.

Carr-Cary Family Papers: The Carr and Cary families were relatives of Anna Eliza Barnard. Jane Margaret Carr Cary and her son, Sydney Carr Cary, corresponded with her frequently. At the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

Custodial History

The professional papers of John Gross Barnard were separated from the collection and sold at auction by Doyle on April 26, 2017.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Ned O'Connor, a direct descendant of John G. Barnard and Anna Eliza Barnard, on December 15, 2017.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative.

Papers Entered in AMC 11/26/90.

Papers processed by Celeste Brewer. Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer, March-May 2019.

Much of the collection arrived loose in boxes. Correspondence belonging to John G. Barnard and Frederick A. P. Barnard, dating from the 1850s and 1860s, arrived in 20th century office folders. All items were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Oversize items were physically separated and stored in containers of the appropriate size.

Torn or fragile items were placed in polyester sleeves, and a small number of very fragile telegrams were photocopied for preservation purposes. Some of Frederick A. P. Barnard's letters, as well as a small amount of John G. Barnard's Civil War-era correspondence, appear to have been previously attached to the pages of a scrapbook. These items will need conservation treatment to remove the remaining scrapbook paper.

Separated Materials

Four boxes of Frederick A. P. Barnard's professional papers were separated from this collection and processed as an addition to the Frederick A. P. Barnard Papers.

Revision Description

2019-05-09 xml document instance created by Celeste Brewer.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Financial records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Histories Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Letters (correspondence) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speeches (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wills Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Barnard, Anna Eliza, 1828-1911 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Barnard, Augustus Porter, 1847-1911 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Barnard, Frederick A. P (Frederick Augustus Porter), 1809-1889 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Barnard, J. G (John Gross), 1815-1882 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Deeds Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Engineering -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Families of military personnel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harford County (Md.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Insanity (Law) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Legal documents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Niagara Falls (N.Y. and Ont.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scrapbooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sheffield (Mass. : Town) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
University of Mississippi. Presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard (1809-1889) and John Gross Barnard (1815-1882) were sons of Robert Foster Barnard (1784-1850) and Augusta Porter Barnard (1786-1833) of Sheffield, Massachusetts. The Barnard family was wealthy and well educated. By the mid-nineteenth century, in addition to the family property in Sheffield, they owned land in Jefferson, Louisiana; Cass and Guadalupe Counties, Texas; Niagara, New York; Arkansas; and New York City. Though they were Unionists, at least one of the Barnards—Frederick—also enslaved people.

Frederick A. P. Barnard was President of Columbia College from 1864 until 1889. Prior to his appointment at Columbia, he was a professor of mathematics, chemistry, natural philosophy, and natural history at the University of Alabama (1838-1854) and Chancellor of the University of Mississippi (1856-1860). In 1857, a controversy erupted over his acceptance of the testimony of Jane, a woman enslaved by Barnard, against that of two students who had assaulted her. He moved north at the outbreak of war. Barnard was a skilled administrator, overseeing the rapid growth of Columbia College and advocating for the education of women. He served in various other public capacities as well, including President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1866, and commissioner to the 1867 and 1878 Universal Expositions in Paris. He married Margaret McMurray (1820-1891) in 1847. They had no children. He died in New York City on April 27, 1889.

John G. Barnard was a career officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and an expert on the construction of coastal defenses. He led the construction of defenses at the port city of Tampico during the Mexican-American War, then succeeded Robert E. Lee as Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1855-1856). During the Civil War, he served in the U.S. Volunteers, attaining the rank of Brevet Major General. He then served as President of the Board of Engineers for Fortifications and River and Harbor Improvements until his retirement in 1881. He changed his first name from Jonathan to John in 1858. In about 1842, he married Jane Elizabeth Brand (1822-1853), with whom he had four sons: Robert Foster Barnard (1842-1844), Augustus Porter Barnard (1847-1911), William Frederick Barnard (1848-1863), and Robert Foster Barnard (1850-1853). He died in Detroit, Michigan, after a long illness, on May 14, 1882.

Anna Eliza "Widie" Barnard (1828-1911) was John G. Barnard's second wife. Born Anna Eliza Hall in Harford County, Maryland, she first married McHenry Boyd in 1847; he died shortly after their marriage. She and John married in 1860. They had three children: John Hall Barnard (1861-1936), Jane Brand "Jennie" Barnard (1862-1942), and Anna McHenry "Nannie" Barnard (1866-1939). Many of Widie's family members, including the Cary and Carr families of Virginia, were Confederate partisans, which caused some interfamilial friction during the war. Widie was a prolific letter writer. When John became incapacitated during his last illness, she managed the family's financial affairs from roughly 1880 until his death in 1882. She died in Sheffield, Massachusetts, on May 5, 1911.

Augustus Porter Barnard, known as "Porter," was the son of John G. and Jane Elizabeth Barnard. He was a graduate of the Columbia School of Mines and worked as a mining engineer in Colorado and New Mexico. He was also frequently called upon to manage issues related to his family members' financial assets and estates. In 1884, he became embroiled in a dispute between two of his cousins, Jane Augusta Porter and Frederica Porter Burrall. The dispute resulted in legal proceedings in the United Kingdom and the United States about Jane's mental competency, the validity of Jane and Frederica's late mother's will, and the Porter family's decision to transfer ownership of Niagara Falls and Goat Island to New York State. Both sisters were ultimately declared legally insane, though not before Frederica published a letter in the New York Times accusing Augustus Porter Barnard of kidnapping. After being injured in an accident, Porter left mining to work as a customs agent in New York City. He never married. He died in New York on December 26, 1911.