Graham Arthur Barden papers, 1934-1960

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Barden, Graham Arthur, 1896-1967
Arthur Barden Graham was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, of New Bern, N.C. The collection consists of correspondence, reports, speeches, notes, drafts of bills, printed material, and clippings, mostly relating to Barden's work on various House committees, including Education, Labor, Library, and Rivers and Harbors. Major topics include the draft, military installations including Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune Marine Base, veterans' affairs, and local affairs and projects of Barden's largely rural district, such as lumbering, tobacco processing, and furniture manufacturing.
185 Linear Feet (370 boxes)
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Graham Arthur Barden Papers consist of the office files of Democratic Congressman Barden from his first election to Congress in 1934 through his retirement in 1960. Correspondence, public statements, and miscellaneous Items relate to his service as a member and then chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor. His interest in matters concerning his constituents in the Third District of North Carolina is reflected throughout the collection.

Congressman Barden left his successor, Congressman David Newton Henderson, many papers about ongoing business, especially local projects. These papers came to the library in the Henderson Papers where they are filed, Consult the Inventory of the David N. Henderson Papers for this material that dates prior to 1961 when Henderson took office. The Barden material dates as early as 1930.

The Graham Arthur Barden Papers span Barden's political career from 1933 through his retirement in 1960. There is little material for 1933-1934. Scattered Items pertain to Barden's work in the North Carolina General Assembly and papers for 1934 deal chiefly with his successful campaign in North Carolina's Third Congressional District for the United States Congress. The papers from 1935 through 1960 form a comprehensive record of Barden's congressional activities. To facilitate the use of the collection, the Barden Papers have been arranged in the following series:

I. Subject Files

II. Education and labor

III General Legislation

IV. Correspondence

V. Personal

For more detailed information on the arrangement and content of each series, refer to the Series Descriptions and Container Listing which follow.

The Barden Papers consist in part of correspondence exchanged between Barden and other committee members, legislators, and officials of government agencies. Educators, labor leaders, businessmen, and prominent North Carolinians also communicated with Barden. A large category contains numerous letters from constituents in the Third District of North Carolina who wrote concerning local projects, employment prospects, veteran's benefits, and issues immediately affecting them. There is also a Quantity of "pressure mail" urging Barden to support or oppose certain legislation. Although this type of correspondence is often short and repetitive, it represents a broad geographical area outside of Barden's district and include letters providing comment ranging from the highly articulate to the semi-literate on issues of the day

In addition to correspondence, the Barden Papers contain typescripts and drafts of speeches, legal briefs, and reports. There is also printed material related to the development of various bills, including reports, hearings and confidential committee prints. Many such Items are public documents and have been retained because of the legislative history they reveal, because they have immediate relation to the collection, or because they contain corrections or marginalia written by Barden. Other government documents, however, such as final or complete copies of committee hearings and reports or documents sent to Barden as a courtesy, have been removed since they pertain only tangentially to the collection. A researcher may therefore wish to consult appropriate printed government documents located elsewhere in the Perkins Library.

Many printed Items that Barden collected for research for committee work or accumulated for general information have also been retained. Labor, education, and other partisan groups furnished many of these Items. The papers also contain clippings and some photographs, mainly of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Goldsboro, North Carolina.

As a whole, the Barden Collection illustrates legislative trends, particularly in education and labor, from the Depression to the Kennedy years, and the role that Barden played as a member and chairman of an important House Committee. Major issues include federal aid to education, labor-management relations, labor standards, and minimum wage legislation,

Coverage for legislation considered by committees other than Education and Labor is uneven and is likely to reflect Barden's own interests or viewpoints. Since Barden continually tried to serve his constituents, for example agriculture information is more abundant than foreign policy material. The Third District was largely rural, and agriculture, fishing, and related industries were important to the District, as were lumbering, preliminary processing of tobacco, and some furniture manufacturing. Barden was also instrumental in the establishment and development of several military installations in his district, including Camp Lejeune Marine Base and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. These activities, as well as other issues of national importance, are reflected in the materials filed under General Legislation and in the Third District Projects and Constituent Concerns files.

Since Barden was consistently unopposed in congressional elections there is little campaign material, Family and exclusively personal material is also rare.

A note on Processing: The five series roughly parallel the arrangement of the tiles as they came from Barden's office, with some consolidation of smaller units, particularly in Series I, the Subject Series.

Certain Items or groups of material were not retained. These include duplicates standard and repetitive responses to pressure mail, and ephemeral material or papers pertaining to ordinary facilitative processes.

Samples from other categories were retained on the following basis:

1. Veteran's files - "C" names retained

2. Employment files - "C" names retained

3. Service Academy Appointments - General files and "C" names retained

4. Post Office - Morehead City files and files for county seats in district retained

Biographical / historical:
Graham Arthur Barden
Date Event
Born, Sept. 25, in Turkey Township, Sampson County, N. C.
Graduated from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Practiced law, New Bern, N. C., in firm of Whitehurst & Barden. Appointed Judge of Craven County, Re-elected three times
Married Agnes Foy. Later had two children, Agnes and Graham Arthur, Jr,
Practiced law in firm of Barden & Stith
Elected to N. C. General Assembly from Craven County
Elected to U. S. House of Representatives from N. C. Third District, Served continuously until retirement
Became Chairman, Education and Labor Committee, Held chairmanship during Democratic majority sessions
Retired in New Bern, N. C,
Died, Jan. 29, New Bern. N. C.

Committee Membership:

74th Congress 1935-36: Education; Library; Rivers & Harbors; Special Committee to Investigate Campaign Expenditures

75th Congress 1937-38: Education; Library; Patents; Rivers & Harbors (Left Patents Committee and placed on Labor Committee during this Congress)

76th Congress 1939-40: Education; Labor; Library; Rivers & Harbors

77th Congress 1941-42: Census; Education; Labor; Library; Rivers & Harbors

78th Congress 1943-44: Census; Education (Chairman; Civil Service; Labor, Library; Rivers & Harbors; Special Committee to Investigate Campaign Expenditures

79th Congress 1945-46: Census; Civil Service; Education (Chairman); Expenditures in the Executive Departments; Labor; Library; Rivers & Harbors

80th-86th Congresses 1947-60: Education and Labor Chairman 1951-52 and 1955-60

Acquisition information:
The Barden Papers were presented to the Rubenstein Library in 1961 and 1965 by Representative Barden.
Processing information:

Processed by: Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Staff

Completed August 26, 1977

Processing of the collection and the preparation of this inventory were made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Encoded by Stephen D. Miller

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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[Identification of item], The Graham Arthur Barden Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.