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Homer Barnett papers

Identifier: UA 002

Scope and Contents note

The Homer Barnett papers, which span the years 1937-1985, consist of papers, microfilm, photographs, and drawings relating to his career in anthropology. The collection documents his many years as a professor at the University of Oregon in the Department of Anthropology. The collection also includes records from his involvement in the professional anthropological community. Many documents in the collection pertain to his research throughout islands in the South Pacific. The material from this research includes recorded interviews with the native people of the islands, as well as microfilms and photographs.

The collection is organized into three series, two of which contain multiple subseries. The first series, Faculty papers, comprises five sub-series: Administrative, Course material, Correspondence, Correspondence-Students, and Student works. The next series is Professional papers which contains six sub-series: Correspondence, Writings, Associations and Committees, Research notes, Reference files, and Audiotapes, microfilm, slides, and photographs. The third is small and contains personal papers; the fourth and final series contains a reel-to-reel film of scenes from "Gadsup Village."

Notable areas of the Faculty papers are the departmental faculty minutes, documenting meetings to discuss and shape the curricula for their courses year by year. This series also covers the events within the Anthropology Department Student Faculty Senate, which developed entities such as the Curriculum Revision Committee that became active Winter term 1969. Correspondence with Luther Cressman is an interesting file consisting of documented communication with Barnett while he was conducting research in the South Pacific. Their letters discussed the progress of Barnett’s research, and coordination of Barnett’s return to work at the University of Oregon.

A significant part of his professional life can be found in the Professional Correspondence about New Guinea. As seen in the correspondence, Barnett’s counsel and help provided essential wisdom and funding for the research to be conducted. Under the sub-series Research notes there is Barnett’s journal documenting his travels in the islands of the South Pacific. There are many of his writings in this series, including the “Qualitative Science Manuscript,” in which he makes the argument that science is built not on facts but on observations. Another notable topic within this series is the Fellowship materials documenting the Homer G. Barnett Graduate Teaching Fellowship. A fellowship intended to encourage the continuation of the high standards of teaching and scholarship set by Professor Barnett.

The Personal series is a very small series containing biographical information, and personal correspondence between family and friends.


  • 1937-1986


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Homer Garner Barnett was born on April 25, 1906 in Bisbee, Arizona. He began his education at Stanford University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1927 for mathematics and philosophy. He then worked as a teaching assistant in anthropology for the University of California while continuing his education. He earned his Ph. D. in anthropology from the University of California in 1938. The following year in 1939 he was hired as an Anthropology instructor at the University of Oregon. In 1943 he became an assistant professor of Anthropology, and was promoted to associate professor in 1946.

Dr. Barnett belonged to many professional entities outside of the University of Oregon. He was an American Anthropological Association representative to the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1947-63. As an elected representative of the American Anthropological Association, Dr. Barnett started the movement for reorganization of the association to establish it on a more professional basis. This program was modified and carried out by the Association as he recommended. He was also a member of the Pacific Coast Conference on Anthropology and Humanities in 1947.

Dr. Barnett conducted field research studying different Native American cultures in Southwestern Oregon (1934), Northwestern California (1938), British Columbia (1935-36, 1940), and Washington (1942-43). From 1947 to 1948 he conducted field research studying the indigenous people of the Palau Islands. Dr. Barnett had a long and distinguished career as an anthropologist, and was greatly respected by all who knew him. Dr. Barnett became an emeritus professor at the University of Oregon in 1971; he officially retired in 1974. After his retirement Dr. Barnett worked on writings and publications up until the time of his death in 1985.


13.75 linear feet (32 containers)

Language of Materials



Homer Barnett (1906-1985) was an anthropologist who studied the indigenous people of the Palau Islands, and a professor at the University of Oregon from 1939 to 1974. The collection includes faculty papers, correspondence, student works, writings, research notes, sound recordings, microfilm, slides, photographs, personal papers, and film that reflect his life and career.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series I: Faculty Papers Subseries A: Administrative, 1953-1977Subseries B: Course Materials, 1943-1975Subseries C: Correspondence, 1944-1974Subseries D: Correspondence-Students, 1965-1974Subseries E: Student Works, 1949-1974 Series II: Professional Papers Subseries A: Correspondence, 1937-1986Subseries B: Writings, 1938-1981Subseries C: Associations and Committees, 1939-1982Subseries D: Research NotesSubseries E: Reference FileSubseries F: Audiotapes, Microfilm, Slides and Photographs Series III: Personal Papers

General Physical Description note

32 containers

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Greg Childs and Emily Hartsfield, Archives Processors.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Homer Barnett Papers
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Finding aid prepared by Greg Childs and Emily Hartsfield
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Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA