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Collection on James F. Barker

 Collection — Box: 6- People Files
Identifier: RITArc-0211

Scope and Contents

The James F. Barker collection consists of photocopied clippings relating to Barker's appointment as the Institute's second president in 1916, to his resignation in 1919. A small amount of photocopied correspondence is present and concerns the Federal Board of Vocational Education (part of the federal WWI effort) and decreased post-war attendance. Also included is his daughter Josephine's high school yearbook, the Senior Annual (June 1917) from East High School in Rochester, New York.

Barker's copy of National Geographic's Map of the Western Theatre of War has annotated WWI battlelines drawn by Barker. Last are copies of his alumni records from Cornell University, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1893.


  • Creation: 1916-1950
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1916 - 1919

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) can trace its origins to the founding of the Rochester Athenaeum in 1829. After joining with several different Rochester institutions during the 19th century, the Athenaeum finally merged with the Mechanics Institute (founded in 1885) in 1891 to form the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI).

Until 1910, the Institute never had a president of its faculty. For the previous twenty-five years, the Board of Directors handled all executive concerns. At this time the Institute was expanding rapidly, and Board Members had private affairs to tend to, leaving less time for Institute matters. This combination of factors made a separate executive head necessary. The Board named Carleton Gibson the first president of the Institute in June, 1910. Gibson resigned in 1916 and was succeeded by James F. Barker.

Barker came to the Institute from East Technical High School in Cleveland, Ohio, where he had served as principal since 1907. Barker earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1893 from Cornell University. From there, he held several posts in industrial education, including in Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon, Michigan, leading to his post in Ohio.

Since Barker's background was based in technical education for high school students, he proposed that the Institute accept junior high school students and offer them a three year trade course. However, his tenure was chiefly marked by the country's war effort. A program by the Federal Board of Vocation Training brought rotating groups of men to the Institute for intensive training in mechanics, carpentry, and electrical work. New courses included fuel conservation and economical home cooking. To replace men serving in the military, mechanical drawing classes were held for women.

Barker resigned from the Institute in 1919 in order to take a position as assistant superintendent of the Rochester City School System. Later, he operated a photography studio on Nantucket. He died in Rochester in 1950 at age 78.


1 Folder(s)




The Collection on James F. Barker consists of photocopied clippings and correspondence relating to Barker's term as the Institute's second president. Also included is a copy of his daughter Josephine's high school yearbook, and a map of Europe in World War I, annotated by Barker.


The collection is arranged chronologically within material type.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 783, Box 1

Related Materials

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Amy Vilz in July 2011.

Collection on James F. Barker
RIT Archives
Amy Vilz
25 July 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA