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Clarence A. Barbour papers

Biographical Note

Clarence Augustus Barbour was born in Hartford, Connecticut on April 21, 1867 to Judge Humphrey and Myra Barker Barbour. After attending Hartford High School, Barbour entered Brown University in 1882. While a student at Brown, Barbour taught courses in the Providence Evening School, and in his senior year, became the principal of the Richmond Street Evening School. He was also very active in clubs and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Following his graduation in 1888, Barbour moved on to attend Rochester Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York. Upon his graduation from seminary in 1891, Barbour became the pastor for the Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester, where he stayed until 1909.

While working as a pastor, Barbour also became a leader in working for better schools and against political corruption. When he left the Lake Avenue Baptist Church in 1909, Barbour became the associate secretary of the Religious Work Department of the International Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association. In 1915, Barbour was named the Wyckoff Professor of Homiletics and president of the Rochester Theological Seminary. As president of the seminary, Barbour was instrumental in the merging of Colgate Theological Seminary and Rochester Theological Seminary to form the Colgate Rochester Divinity School in 1928, now known as Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.

By unanimous vote, Barbour was elected president of Brown University in October of 1928. As president, Barbour was very active in reaching out to alumnae, churches, professional associations and many other groups to help build the endowment and reputation of Brown University. In September of 1931, Barbour and his wife, Florence Newell Barbour, left on a nine month trip to Asia as part of the Laymen’s Committee on Foreign Missions supported by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Commission was to appraise the activities and effect of missions in Japan, China, Burma and India.

Though Barbour attempted to grow and change Brown, the Great Depression made it difficult to achieve these goals. Instead, Barbour served to simply maintain Brown, and keep the school healthy through the crisis of the Depression. In 1935, Barbour suffered a nervous breakdown. Then, in 1936, Barbour suffered an attack of appendicitis and never fully recovered. He died on January 16, 1937.

(Information from the Encyclopedia Brunonia was included in this biographical note)