Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 7103
Barber, Herbert Spencer, 1882-1950
Herbert Spencer Barber Papers, 1903-1950
Herbert Spencer Barber (1882-1950) was associated with entomology in the United States National Museum, Division of Insects, from 1898 until his death in 1950. A man with little formal education, he was appointed as assistant preparator of insects in 1898, and until 1902 worked directly for Eugene Amandus Schwarz. From 1902-1904 he was employed by the United States Department of Agriculture, part of which time he spent studying cotton insects in the southern states. From 1904 to 1908 he was back in the museum with Schwarz. From 1908 until his death in 1950 he was a specialist on beetles in the Division of Insect Identification in the Agriculture Department. During these years he worked mostly in the museum, in association with Schwarz until the latter1s death in 1928. Barber collected insects in the United States, Mexico and Guatemala, and he was an internationally recognized authority on chrysomelid bruchid and lampyrid beetles. He had wide knowledge extending beyond his own specialties, the coleoptera, and even the field of entomology.
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.
These papers concern mostly his professional work as an entomologist and administration of the work of the Department of Agriculture and the National Museum. His field notebooks include information on his trips to California (1903), Texas (1904 and 1918), Guatemala (1906), and Arizona (1914), and lists of photographs of specimens taken during the trips. In a series of outgoing correspondence, 1904-1909, family and other personal correspondence predominates, but in later correspondence, professional and museum matters assume priority. Some letters to and from Schwarz are included, probably a result of close association. This latter correspondence is concerned with Museum and Agriculture business, including acquisition of specimens, arrangements for study at the Museum, internal administration, acquisition and loan of specimens, and answers to questions and requests for determinations; a substantial proportion of the correspondence consists of professional communication between Barber and other entomologists concerning questions of taxonomy and biology of insects.
Prominent correspondents are listed in the description of each series, followed by folder lists. Some Barber material remains in the Department of Entomology, notably random nomenclature and taxonomic notes on various genera of Chrysomelidae (.75 cubic foot) and card files of collecting and research work at Plummer's Island.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Barber, Herbert Spencer, 1882-1950
- Schwarz, Eugene Amandus, 1844-1928
- United States. Department of Agriculture
- United States National Museum. Division of Insects
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7103, Herbert Spencer Barber Papers