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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:81 1925-1961

Chester I. Barnard papers

Manuscripts, letters, and notes relating to Barnard's writings and lectures on management subjects. There are six folders of material by or about Lawrence J. Henderson of Harvard. Correspondents include Adelbert Ames, Jr., James B. Conant, William E. Hocking, George C. Homans, Robert K. Merton, Talcott Parsons, and others.


  • 1925-1960

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact for more information.


2.5 linear feet (2 cartons, 1 box)

The papers of Chester I. Barnard contain speeches, correspondence, letters sent/received, reprints, manuscripts, book reviews, clippings, agendas, bulletins, directives and typescripts. The bulk of these materials correspond to the years 1930-1950 when Barnard was President of New Jersey Bell Telephone Company. Of particular note in this collection are the Henderson lectures in the experimental course, Sociology 23, given during the late 1930s. Preparations were made to publish these lectures with a biographical introduction of Dr. Henderson, but the project never materialized. Also of interest is the material on the Conference on Atomic Energy (1945), an outgrowth of a State Department committee on which Barnard served which formulated American policy on the control of atomic energy (Acheson-Lilienthal report). Material in Box 3 is restricted; however, an edited photocopy of ALS is located in Correspondence, M folder [1 of 3].

Biographical / Historical

Chester Irving Barnard, son of Charles H. and Mary E. (Putnum) Barnard, was born November 7, 1886 in Malden, Massachusetts. His father was a mechanic with a grammar school education; his mother died when Chester was five years old. Because of his family’s modest means, he left school at the age of 12 to work in a piano factory. After a few years of work, Barnard was able to attend Mount Herman School and graduated with a scholarship to Harvard University. At Harvard, he majored in economics and sailed through the academic program in three years. However, he did not receive a degree due to an entrance requirement of high school chemistry and physics.

On leaving Harvard in 1909, Barnard began his rapid rise at American Telephone and Telegraph where he stayed throughout his professional career. He began as a translator of German scientific works, and he was made a commercial engineer in 1915. In 1922, he became vice-president of Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, and in 1923 he was promoted to general manager. By 1926, Barnard was vice-president in charge of operations. In 1928, he was appointed president of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company and remained in that position until his retirement from the company in 1948.

Barnard’s civic activities were as impressive as his private sector accomplishments. He organized and directed the New Jersey unemployment relief agency from 1931-1933 and was chairman of the State Relief Council in 1935. He was president of the USO from 1942-1945 and also served as director of the National War Fund and as a member of the joint Army-Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation. Barnard was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury in 1941 and a member of the Third Naval District Manpower Survey Committee. He received the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1944 and the Presidential Medal in 1946.

After Barnard’s retirement from New Jersey Bell in 1948, he became chairman of the board of that company and president of the Rockefeller Foundation. As a trustee and a member of this foundation’s executive and finance committees since 1940, Barnard was the obvious choice as the head of this largest of all public trusts. Chester Barnard’s close personal friendship with Lawrence J. Henderson brought him to the Harvard Business School where he participated in Henderson’s course on concrete sociology. In addition, Barnard served on several visiting committees at Harvard. As the author of The Functions of the Executive (1938) and Organization and Management: Selected Papers (1948), Barnard influenced a generation of business leaders. Chester Barnard was greatly in demand as speaker, writer and lecturer and served on many corporate boards due to his unique position as practitioner, intellectual, and gifted writer.

In 1911, Mr. Barnard married the former Grace F. Neora of Saugus, Massachusetts; they had one daughter. He died on June 7, 1961.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Chester I. Barnard, 1962.

Processing Information

Processed: August 1994 By: Carole Foster
Processing Information Originally the collection consisted of 18 volumes (in three-ring binders and scrapbooks) and 1 carton of unbound material. The unbound material included folders of correspondence by named individuals, a thesis, general correspondence in alphabetical order as well as pamphlets and articles by Barnard and others. The unbound material also included lectures and other material relating to Lawrence J. Henderson intended for publication. The 18 volumes were dismantled and the materials rehoused into acid-free folders using subject headings based on original collection inventory.
Link to catalog
Barnard, Chester I., 1886-1961. Chester I. Barnard Papers, 1925-1960: A Finding Aid.
Baker Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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