Virginia Historical Society
Department of Manuscripts and Archives
W. J. Barrow Research Laboratory Records, 1932-1978
Description & Guide
Main Entry: W. J. Barrow Research Laboratory Title: Records, 1932-1978 Size: Ca. 25,000 items (41 archival boxes) Historical Note: William James Barrow (1904-1967), a Brunswick County, Virginia, native, became interested in the Scientific aspects of document preservation and restoration in the early 1930's. With the encouragement of Dr. H. R. McIlwaine, State Librarian, he established a small laboratory and restoration shop at the Virginia State Library in Richmond. Later he moved to larger facilities at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, but returned to the State Library in 1940, where he developed his paper deacidification and lamination process. In 1961, with the aid of funding from the Council on Library Resources, Barrow established a research facility in the headquarters building of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, where his investigations could continue on a much larger scale. After his death in 1967, the research continued for another ten years under the direction of Dr. Robert N. DuPuis and Dr. Bernard Forestier Walker. Scope Note: Includes correspondence, draft reports, and publications, 1932-1967, of William James Barrow; and personal and family materials. Also, includes correspondence, financial and personnel records, and laboratory notes concerning paper preservation and testing, 1961-1978, of the W. J. Barrow Research Laboratory, Inc., Richmond, Va.; and materials concerning the funding and supervision of laboratory operations and projects by the Library Technology Project (American Library Association), Council on Library Resources, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Provenance: Gift of Mrs. Ruth Abbott (Gibbs) Barrow (i.e., Mrs. William J. Barrow), Richmond, Va., in 1977. Accessioned 25 January 1982. Additional records gift of Mrs. Ruth Abbott (Gibbs) Barrow, Richmond, Va., 15 October 1985. Restrictions: None. Arrangement: An attempt has been made throughout the collection to retain the filing arrangement utilized by the laboratory staff as far as is practicable. Researchers should read this entire description and the guide which follows before beginning work on these records.
The earliest records involve Barrow's work on document restoration and paper preservation before the establishment of the W. J. Barrow Research Laboratory, and include personal and professional correspondence; drafts and printed versions of publications; newspaper and magazine articles regarding Barrow and his work; and test data, notes, and miscellaneous items covering his early projects and experiments. Other materials regarding Barrow himself may be found in the boxes covering the Council on Library Resources and the American Library Association's Library Technology Project.
The second major division covers the funding of and supervision of the Barrow Research Laboratory by the Council on Library Resources (CLR) and includes general correspondence (especially with CLR officials Verner W. Clapp, Fred C. Cole, Lee E. Grove, Laurence B. Heilprin, Nelville J. Ruggles, Carl M. Spaulding, and James L. Tew); contracts and agreements; directors' reports on lab operations; financial reports and budget requests; and progress reports and lab work on CLR-supported projects, including the seven volumes of the Permanence and Durability of the Book series (these materials are arranged by project chronologically by date of inception).
Funding was also received in 1975-1977 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (through Barrow Preservation Research, Inc., Richmond, Va.) and records include correspondence; funding applications; interim reports on projects and lab operations; and financial materials.
From 1957 to 1966, Barrow and the staff of the laboratory worked on specific programs of the library Technology Project of the American Library Association concerning the durability of library catalog cards and the search for a durable book binding. Records include correspondence (especially with Forrest G. Carhart, Jr., Richard W. Luce, and Frazer G. Poole); agreements; progress reports; financial statements; and lab work.
Other materials covering the Barrow Research Laboratory after Mr. Barrow's death in 1967 are grouped together and include correspondence (of staff members Mrs. Cynthia G. Bright, Mrs. Ann M. Carlton, Allie F. Dietrich, Robert Newell DuPuis, James E. Kustener, Jr., Emily L. Parr, David Dewey Roberson, Mrs. Virginia Ann Roberson, Mrs. Lucie Smiley, Reavis C. Sproull, and Bernard Forestier Walker); financial and personnel records; miscellaneous lab work (non-CLR projects); and experiment notebooks kept by staff members.
Series I. William James Barrow (1904-1967)
Boxes 1-7: general correspondence, 1932-1967 (A-Z)
Boxes 8-9: personal accounts and property records; biographical information; publications; clippings and articles regarding Barrow; laboratory operations before 1961
Boxes 10-11: laboratory notes and testing results before 1961
Series II. Council on Library Resources (sponsor)
Boxes 12-13: general correspondence, 1957-1977
Box 14: establishment of Barrow lab; contracts and agreements; monthly reports; financial statements and budget requests
Boxes 15-24: progress reports and lab work on major CLR-supported projects
Boxes 22-24: Permanence and Durability of the Book, materials concerning research and publication of volumes 1-7
Series III. American Library Association. Library Technology Project
Box 26: correspondence, 1958-1966
Boxes 27-28: contracts; progress reports; lab work
Series IV. W. J. Barrow Research Laboratory
Boxes 29-31: general correspondence, 1961-1977
Boxes 32-33: requests for publications, 1962-1977
Boxes 34-38: financial and personnel records; tax returns; pension plan, etc.
Box 39: miscellaneous lab work (non-CLR)
Box 40: miscellaneous information on lab operations and staff activities; staff notebooks on lab experiments
Box 41: notebooks kept by staff members