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George B. (George Brown) Barbour papers

Identifier: UA-C

Scope and Content

The papers of George B. Barbour consist of both personal and professional papers.

His personal papers contain correspondence (1890-1975) between him and his wife, Dorothy, as well as letters from parents, children, and friends. A great deal of this correspondence pertains to George's field work. The family also kept a group of letters labeled "VIP" letters. These have been interfiled with the rest of the correspondence but have also been listed separately at the end of the container list. The personal papers also include personal clippings and news clippings regarding professional activities of the family. Photographs of the family and travel photos are included in the collection

Barbour's professional papers contains a great deal of information regarding 20th century Geology curriculum, development of the Geological profession, and some information regarding major geological and anthropological discoveries made in the 20th century. Included are reprints of professional articles, early diaries, field notebooks, lecture notebooks, grade books, teaching materials, professional association materials, research notes and working papers for Barbour's book, "In the Field with Teilhard de Chardin."

Because of a long-term friendship between George Barbour and Teilhard de Chardin, the family took an active part in collecting and preserving material relating to Chardin's life and work. This material includes: correspondence, bibliographies of Chardin's works, articles by and about Chardin, a copy of his 1951 South African Journal, book reviews, and a collection of books by and about Chardin.


  • Creation: 1888-1977


Language of Materials

The records are in English

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Biography of George Brown Barbour

George Barbour was an internationally-known geologist and educator. As a geologist, he did field work primarily in China, South Africa, Europe, and North America. Throughout his academic career, he taught Geology at various universities. He was also Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Cincinnati from 1938-1958.

Barbour was born in 1890 in Edinburgh, Scotland and attended the Merchiston Castle School from 1899-1906. He spent his first year of college at Marburg University in Germany and then returned to Edinburgh University where he earned an M.A. with Honors in 1910. He left Edinburgh in 1912 and studied at Cambridge from 1912-1914. From 1914-1919, George was in active military service and during WWI, served as an ambulance driver in Italy. However, during that time he was able to continue his studies and earned a B.A. in 1916 and an M.A. in 1918 from Cambridge.

In 1919, George left Europe to attend Columbia University in New York. The next year, he married Dorothy Dickinson of New York, a graduate of Columbia University and an active spokeswomen for Christian Education and the YWCA.

In 1920, George accepted a position as Professor of Geology at Yenching University, Peking. George and Dorothy spent the next 11 years living in China. During that time, George continued his studies and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1928. He did most of his research and field work on various aspects of Chinese geology and became associated with men performing the Geological Survey of China. Dorothy continued to promote Christian education and occasionally taught classes at the University. The couple also had three sons, all born during their stay in China.

In 1931, the Barbours returned to New York as their eldest son had contracted "Peking Fever." Although they had planned to return to China as soon as the boy recovered, they were unable to obtain visas because of the political revolution in China. In 1932, George accepted a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati. During the year 1933-1934, he served as Assistant Editor for the Geological Society of America. In 1934, George obtained funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to return to China and work with the Geological Survey. However, his family was unable to join him, so in 1935, he took a position at the University of London for 2 years.

In 1937, George returned to the University of Cincinnati in the capacity of professor of Geology and the next year he was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He remained in the position of Dean until 1958 when he returned to teaching for 2 years before his retirement in 1960.

Throughout his career as a geologist, Barbour maintained professional ties with groups doing important geological and anthropological research. He was associated with the group who discovered Peking Man and also did a great deal of field work in South Africa with the researchers who discovered the Men-Apes of Africa. He received several honors and awards relating to his work including the Gill Memorial Award of the British Royal Geological Society (1937), and Fellowships in both the Royal Society of South Africa and the Geological Society of South Africa (1949).

Barbour corresponded with many of the major figures in the field of Geology and maintained a long term friendship with Teilhard de Chardin, whom he had worked with on several field projects. Barbour's papers reflect that he was an extremely dedicated teacher, a man devoted to his family, and an active scholar throughout his life.


21.5 Linear Feet (38 boxes)


This collection consists of both the personal and professional papers of George Barbour including correspondence, clippings, reprints of professional articles, diaries, field notebooks, lecture notebooks, teaching materials, and research notes.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series: Personal Papers and Professional Papers. The material within these series are arranged by type and then chronologically.

Physical Location

Archives and Rare Books Library

Guide to the George B. (George Brown) Barbour papers
Edited Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Archives and Rare Books staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Rare Books Library Repository

8th Floor Blegen Library
2602 University Circle
P.O. Box 210113
Cincinnati Ohio 45221-0113