Skip to main content

Viola Florence Barnes collection

Identifier: MS 0704

Scope and Contents

The Viola Florence Barnes Collection consists of correspondence, writings, records of the Mount Holyoke College History Department, biographial information, memorabilia, and photographs. This material chiefly relates to Barnes' work as a historian and member of the History Department at Mount Holyoke College. Most of these documents consist of letters to Barnes, 1955-1972, from colleagues and publishers concerning the possible publication of her three-volume manuscript, "Britain in the Shadow of World Revolution, 1760-1776". Correspondents include historians Carl Bridenbaugh, Lawrence Henry Gipson, John Higham, Leonard Woods Labaree, and Edmund Sears Morgan. There are also letters from representatives of university presses and other publishing firms in the United States and Great Britain, especially Princeton University Press, Rutgers University Press, Yale University Press and the American branch of Cambridge University Press. Barnes' writings in this collection include the final typed verson of the "Britain in the Shadow of World Revolution" manuscript as well as published articles and reviews by her dating from 1926-1969 and a substantial number of unpublished essays, drafts, notes, and memoranda probably dating from about 1923-1975. History Department records primarily consist of copies of letters by Barnes, 1946-1950, concerning the curriculum, course work by students, and staffing issues. The collection also include articles, sketches, and other biographical information about Barnes, 1936-1979; a diploma and two certificates dating from 1906, 1913, and 1919; and photographs, ca. 1896-1964.


  • Creation: ca. 1896-1979

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical Note

Viola Florence Barnes was born on August 28, 1885 in Albion, Nebraska. She was the third of five children of Cass Groves Barns (who spelled the family name without an "e"), a physician and newspaper editor, and Isabella Smith Barns. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Nebraska School of Music in 1906 and, after a brief period as a piano teacher, returned to the University to complete work for a B.A. in 1909 and M.A. in 1910. She joined the faculty of the University as a history instructor and continued her studies at Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin during the summers of 1915-1916, then went to Yale University. After receiving her Ph.D. from Yale in 1919, Barnes joined the faculty at Mount Holyoke College and greatly expanded the American history curriculum. She became a full professor in 1933 and was chair of the History Department from 1939-1942. Barnes was also chair of the American Culture major (later the American Studies Program) from its inception in 1937 until her retirement in 1952. Her first book, "The Dominion of New England" (1923, reprinted in 1960) remains a standard history of the colonial period and she was the author of numerous scholarly articles and essays. From about 1926 until the mid-1970s she focused her research on the history of Great Britain from 1760-1776 and completed a three volume manuscript that has not been published. In addition to her work as a teacher and scholar, Barnes was a co-founder and second president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She also helped establish the riding program at Mount Holyoke. Barnes died on July 26, 1979 in Holyoke, Massachusetts at the age of ninety-three.


2.3 Linear Feet (4 full Hollinger and 3 half Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials



Barnes, Viola Florence, 1885-1979; Historian, college teacher, and author. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1919-1951. Papers contain correspondence, writings, Mount Holyoke College History Department records, memorabilia, biographical information, and photographs. Principally document her work as a historian and the development of the American Studies program at the College. Author of "The Dominion of New England."


Arranged in 6 series. Series 1. Correspondence. Series 2. Writings. Series 3. History Department Records. Series 4. Memorabilia. Series 5. Biographical Information. Series 6. Photographs.

Viola Florence Barnes collection, ca. 1896-1979.
Edited Full Draft
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA