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Ralph W. Barnes papers, 1917-1983

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Barnes, Ralph W.
Title
Ralph W. Barnes papers
Dates
1917-1983 (inclusive)
(bulk)
Quantity
13 linear feet, (3 boxes, 22 oversize boxes)
Collection Number
WUA016
Summary
This collection contains materials that relate to Ralph W. Barnes' fourteen year career as a foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Barnes reported in Europe from 1926 to 1940, and was stationed in Benito Mussolini's Italy, Joseph Stalin's Russia, and Adolf Hitler's Germany. The collection includes items related to Barnes' career as well as his personal life. Correspondence, journals, and scrapbooks created by his wife, Esther Barnes are also included. The majority of Barnes' published stories are documented in scrapbooks created by his father, E.T. Barnes. A notable item in this collection is a letter from Joseph Stalin to Barnes, written in 1933.
Repository
Willamette University Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem, OR
97301
Telephone: 503-370-6866
Fax: 503-370-6141
archives@willamette.edu
Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Ralph Waldo Barnes was born on June 14, 1899 in Salem, Oregon to Edward Talbot Barnes and Mabel Nancy Baker Barnes. Barnes attended local public schools and graduated from Salem High School in 1917. The summer after graduation, Barnes took military training at St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. He returned to Salem in the fall of 1918 to begin studies at Willamette University, but his studies were interrupted when his military reserve unit was called for training at Fort McArthur in Waco, Texas. He returned to Willamette and graduated in 1922 with a degree in history. After receiving a Master's degree in Economics from Harvard University, Barnes returned to Salem to marry his longtime sweetheart, Esther Parounagian, who had graduated from Willamette in 1923.

In 1924 Barnes and Esther moved to New York City where he found a job working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A brief stretch with the Evening World allowed Barnes to leverage himself into a position with the New York Herald Tribune, which he held from 1924 until his death in 1940.

His first assignment as a foreign correspondent took him to Paris, France in 1926. In 1930 Barnes was given a promotion and transferred to Rome, Italy where he reported under the rule of Benito Mussolini. In May of 1930, Esther gave birth to a daughter named Joan in Italy. Almost a year later, Barnes was transferred to Russia during the height of Joseph Stalin's government. He was assigned to the Moscow bureau where he reported from 1931 to 1935. Barnes was an avid reader and heavily supplemented his news reporting with background research. During his first month in Moscow, he wrote to his father "My Britannica is not here yet; hope to have it within a couple of weeks; for, without it, I feel like a nearsighted man who has lost his spectacles." In the fall of 1931, a second daughter, Suzanne, was born while Esther and Joan were in Paris.

Barnes was conscious of his unique position in Russia: "Here I'm one of a few observers of what is undoubtedly the most important experiment of this century; and perhaps for several centuries; either for good or bad." He carried this perspective to each of his subsequent posts throughout Europe.

Barnes left Moscow to take over the Berlin, Germany bureau in 1935 and spent four years under the rule of Adolph Hitler. In March of 1939, just before the start of the Second World War, he was offered a position as head of the London bureau in England. In 1940 Barnes returned to Berlin to report on the war. On June 21, 1940 he was expelled from Berlin for a story that government censors found abrasive. Due to escalating tensions in Europe, a few weeks earlier on June 2, Esther, Joan, and Suzanne returned to New York from Dublin, Ireland via the ship the U.S.S. Roosevelt.

Barnes continued traveling as a journalist, despite the expulsion, going from Berlin to Budapest, Hungary and then on to Bucharest, Romania and eventually Egypt. In Egypt, Barnes became an official war correspondent and was stationed with the British Army. When Italy invaded Greece, Barnes and the other correspondents accompanied the British forces to Greece on a warship. On November 17, 1940 Barnes was given permission to accompany the Royal Air Force (RAF) on a night raid. Weather conditions drove the plane off course, causing it to crash into a mountain range in Yugoslavia, killing all on board. Barnes was the first war correspondent to be killed in World War II. He was buried with military honors in Yugoslavia. Leland Stowe, a longtime friend and colleague of Barnes, wrote an obituary in which he quoted a war correspondent also assigned to the RAF, "Ralph always wanted to know everything about everything. He had to see for himself. He always asked more questions than the rest of us put together. Out in the desert he got interested in the stars, so he bought several books on astronomy as soon as he got back to Cairo. Of course, he was a veteran and we were lots of us younger than he, but he could never get over his enthusiasm." Three years after his death, a Liberty ship was christened the S.S. Ralph Barnes in his honor.

Esther raised her two daughters in Salem and married Chester Downs in 1946. Esther died in 1985 and is buried in Salem, Oregon.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Ralph W. Barnes collection is arranged into four series: Series I. Ralph Barnes, 1918-1943; Series II. Esther Barnes, 1924-1940; Series III. E. T. Barnes, 1927-1940; and Series IV. Photographs, 1917-1943.

The collection contains letters, newspaper clippings, photographs, bound scrapbooks, passports, journals. There are also typed transcripts of Ralph and Esther Barnes' letters.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ralph W. Barnes papers, Archives and Special Collections, Mark O. Hatfield Library, Willamette University.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Ralph W. Barnes, 1918-1943Return to Top

This series covers Barnes education and subsequent fourteen year career as a foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in Europe. The bulk of the series is outgoing correspondence from Barnes to family members. Included are essays from graduate school, journals, a letter from Joseph Stalin to Barnes, and articles about the ship christened in his honor, S.S. Ralph Barnes.

This series is organized into two subseries: Professional Files and Personal Files. These are arranged in chronological order.
Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries A: Professional Files
1924-1943
Box Folder
1 1
Harvard Essay
1924
1 2
Journal from Eagle
1925
1 3
Journal from England and Russia
1927
1 4
Stalin letter
1933
1 5
Liberty Ship
1943
Subseries B: Personal Files
1918-1940
Box Folder
1 6
Early letters to Esther
1918
1 7
Letter to classmates
1927
1 8
Letters
1929-1932
1 9
Letters
1932-1933
1 10
Letters
1937
1 11
Letters
1939
1 12
Letters
1940
1 13
Telegrams
1932-1940
1 14
Legal Documents
1926-1940

Series II:  Esther Barnes, 1924-1940Return to Top

This series includes letters to family, journals, scrapbooks, and passports.

This series is divided into six subseries, each of which is arranged chronologically.
We are still looking for the unpublished 1983 interview she gave to the Statesman Journal regarding Ralph Barnes.
Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries A: Correspondence
1930-1940
Box Folder
2 1
Letters
1930-1932
2 2
Letters
1933
2 3
Letters
1934
2 4
Letters
1935
2 5
Letters
1936
2 6
Letters
1937
2 7
Letters
1938
2 8
Letters
1939
2 9
Letters
1940
Subseries B: Journals and other writings
1925-1927
Box Folder
2 10
Journal, pp 1-10
1925
2 11
Journal, pp 11-20
1925
2 12
Journal, pp 21-30
1925
2 13
Journal, pp 31-38
1925
2 14
Journal, pp 1-10
1926
2 15
Journal, pp 11-20
1926
2 16
Journal, pp 21-30
1926
2 17
Journal, pp 31-40
1926
2 18
Journal, pp 41-47
1926
2 19
Journal, pp 1-10
1927
2 20
Journal, pp 11-20
1927
2 21
Journal, pp 21-30
1927
2 22
Journal, pp 31-40
1927
2 23
Journal, pp 41-48
1927
2 24
Bound Journal
1927
2 25
Handwritten page, brief history of Russia
undated
Subseries C: Scrapbooks and Memorabilia
1927-1931
Box Folder
2 26
Heidelberg
1927
2 27
Le Voyage d' Esther et Ralph
1927
2 28
Passport issued in Rome
1931

Series III:  E. T. Barnes, 1927-1940Return to Top

This series is comprised of materials assembled by E. T. Barnes to record Ralph Barnes' career. It includes scrapbooks of published stories from 1930 to 1940 as well as typed transcripts of letters sent home from Ralph and Esther Barnes.

Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries A: Scrapbooks
1927-1940
Italy
1930-1931
Box
4
1930 January - 1931 February
5
1930 February - 1931 February
Russia
1931-1935
Box
6
1931 April - 1934 June
7
1931 May - 1934 May
8
1931 April - December
9
1932 January - September
10
1933 May - 1934 January
11
1934 January - July
12
1934 December - 1935 August
13
1934 December - 1935 July
14
1935 July - August
Germany
1935-1939
Box
15
1935 August - 1936 September
16
1936 September - 1937 December
17
1937 December - 1939 March
England
1939-1940
Box
18
1939 April - August
19
1939 August - December
20
1940 January - June
21
1940 June - October
Mid-East
1940
Box
22
1940 October - November
Box Folder
1 37
Articles on death of Ralph Barnes
1940
1 38
Ralph Barnes best stories
1927-1940
Subseries B: Typed transcripts of letters from Ralph W. Barnes
1931-1940
Box Folder
3 1
Experiences of a foreign correspondent in Europe
undated
3 2
Russia
1931 April 13 - 1931 November 21
3 3
Russia
1931 November 25 - 1932 November 7
3 4
Russia
1932 November 18 - 1933 August
3 5
Russia
1933 August 7 - 1935 January 9
3 6
Russia
1935 January 16 - 1936 June 5
3 7
Germany
1936 June 8 - 1937 April 16
3 8
Germany
1937 May 18 - 1938 July 10
3 9
England
1938 July 24 - 1939 August 4
3 10
England
1939 August 12 - 1940 September
3 11
1940 August 19 - 1940 October 6
Subseries C: Typed transcripts of letters from Esther Barnes
1933-1940
Box Folder
3 12
Russia
1933 June - 1934 May
3 13
Russia, Germany
1934 May 2 - 1936 January 21
3 14
Germany
1936 January 29 - 1936 December 31
3 15
Germany
1936 November 27 - 1937 October
3 16
Germany
1937 October 27 - 1938 October
3 17
England
1938 November 9 - 1940 January
3 18
England
1940 January 27 - 1940 July 8

Series IV:  Photographs, 1917-1943Return to Top

Included in this series are a variety of photographs of Ralph and Esther Barnes. Some of the photographs are have dates and locations while others do not have any information.

This series is arranged in chronological order.
Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 15
Salem High School yearbook, Ralph Barnes and Esther Parounagian
1917
1 16
Ralph Barnes in military uniform
1918
1 17
Ralph Barnes honorable discharge from the United States Army
1918
1 18
Group, includes Ralph and Esther Barnes
1925
1 19
Group, includes Ralph and Esther Barnes
1927
1 20
Ralph and Esther Barnes
1929
1 21
Ralph Barnes
1929
1 22
Ralph Barnes, Istanbul
1940
1 23
Esther, Suzanne, and Joan Barnes arriving from Europe aboard the S.S. Roosevelt
1940
1 24
Ralph Barnes, Athens
1940
1 25
Esther Barnes
undated
1 26
Ralph Barnes
undated
1 27
Ralph and Esther Barnes
undated
1 28
Ralph Barnes
undated
1 29
Kiwanis luncheon
undated
1 30
Ralph Barnes
undated
1 31
"Ralph W. Barnes" Liberty ship
undated
1 32
The Shirers and the Barnes
undated
1 33
Ralph W. Barnes
undated
1 34
Karl Radek and Esther, Moscow
1935
1 35
Esther at Pacific City
undated
1 36
Barnes writing a story in Red Square
undated