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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 542

Papers of Jane Barton, 1935-1993 (inclusive), 1940-1968 (bulk)


Papers of Jane Barton include documents relating to her service with the Navy WAVES during World War II and subsequent service in the United States Naval Reserve. Other material relates to her civilian life as a publicity agent for radio performers in the 1940s, and as a program director for the New York State Radio-Television-Motion Picture Bureau.


  • Creation: 1935-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940-1968


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Jane Barton is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


5.04 linear feet ((5 + 1/2 file boxes, 2 folio+ boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 9 photograph folders, 1 audiotape)

Jane Barton's papers document her years as a WAVES officer during World War II, her role in organizing later reunions of the WAVES, and her service in the USNR from 1948 to 1968. Press releases, photographs, clippings, correspondence and scrapbooks show women's active involvement in the U.S. Navy and the kinds of press and publicity sought by Navy public relations officers. Material relating to her civilian life provides a glimpse into the field of public relations, especially as it related to radio broadcasting in the 1940s. Documents from her New York State career highlight the work of a state public information agency. Personal correspondence and clippings show Barton as an advocate for consumer rights, and reflect her opinions on women in the military, politics, and local government.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1938-1993 (#1.1-1.12), includes Barton's personal correspondence, clippings, and commencement programs. The clippings written by or about Barton are primarily from later in her life.Within each subseries, folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries A, Biographical, 1938-1993 (scattered) (#1.1-1.3), contains clippings about Barton, most from later in her life, primarily from Albany, New York-area newspapers, and commencement programs from Hunter College and New York University. Other biographical information can be found in clippings throughout Series III, subseries B.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1948-1993 (#1.4-1.12), contains personal correspondence, especially on the topic of consumer rights. Beginning in 1955, Barton had an extended interaction with General Motors regarding problems with her 1955 Buick. Believing that she was not treated properly by the dealer or by the corporation, she embarked on a publicity campaign to share her experience of frustration. This included production of an anti-General Motors brochure, and an attempt at lobbying Congress for consumer protection legislation. Documents related to this interaction, and to subsequent cars Barton purchased from GM, can be found in this series. Other correspondence includes a letter from Margaret Chase Smith, letters exchanged with radio celebrities, and photocopies of a letter and enclosures from Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1935-1991 (#1.13-2.10, FD.1, 7F+B.1), includes clippings, correspondence, and printed material documenting Barton's career as a public relations agent for radio, theater, and television personalities, and as program director for the New York State Department of Commerce's Radio-Television-Motion Picture Bureau. Within each subseries, folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries A, Jane Barton Publicity, 1935-1962 (#1.13-2.2, 7F+B.1), contains clippings and correspondence relating to Barton's publicity business, which operated from 1939 to 1942 and from 1946 to 1948. Three scrapbooks include clippings about Barton and her clients, as well as correspondence with clients and press contacts, including Irene Beasley, Ruth Carhart, the Carr & Stark production firm, Bette Garde, Gene Hamilton, Leota Lane, Frank Lovejoy, George A. Putnam, George F. Putnam, and Dwight Weist. The scrapbooks also contain promotional material about Barton as an agent, some relating to her decision to stop her business to join the WAVES. These scrapbooks were disbound and photocopied; clippings were discarded after copying. Items found loose within the pages are foldered together. Also included (#1.19) is a "resume" Barton created when looking for work after World War II; clippings, brochures, and examples of her published writing were pasted onto 11 x 17" pages of colored paper. The resume has been photocopied, with loose items kept and clippings discarded; see #7F+B.1 for a sample page.

Subseries B, New York State employment, 1948-1973 (#2.3-2.8, FD.1), contains radio scripts, proposals for new programs, promotional material, and correspondence relating to Barton's position as Program Director for the Radio-Television-Motion Picture Bureau in the New York State Department of Commerce. Programs created or promoted by Barton, and represented here, focus on the workings of the New York State government, women and small business ownership, civilian responsibility, and civil rights and discrimination. Documents re: Barton's work for the USNR are interfiled in some folders (#2.3, #2.5-2.6).

Subseries C, Other, 1953-1991 (#2.9-2.10), includes correspondence and awards relating to Jane Barton's involvement with American Women in Radio and Television, and newspaper articles and radio scripts written by Barton in the 1970s. One script is related to the nomination of the first woman from New York State to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Series III, NAVAL SERVICE AND RELATED, 1942-1992 (inclusive), 1943-1968 (bulk) (#2.11-6.8, PD.1-PD.9, FD.1, 7F+B.2-7F+B.12, 8F+B.1-8F+B.19, T-250, Mem.1), contains official documents, correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings, and other material relating to Barton's service in the WAVES during World War II, her participation in WAVES reunions, and her 20 years as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. The series is arranged in two subseries. Within each subseries, folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries A, WAVES, 1942-1992 (#2.11-5.4, PD.1, PD.3-PD.9, FD.1, 7F+B.2-7F+B.12, 8F+B.1-8F+B.19, T-250, Mem-1), contains material relating to Barton's service with the WAVES from 1942 to 1946, and subsequent involvement in WAVES reunions. Barton kept three large scrapbooks during her WAVES service, documenting her training at Mount Holyoke College, her service in Washington, D.C., trips she and fellow WAVES took to New York and to tourist sites in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and general WAVES-related press. The scrapbooks contain photographs of Barton's family and friends; clippings; correspondence from her former clients, other WAVES, and enlisted men; Christmas,Valentine, and birthday cards specifically for WAVES or a woman in the military; official Navy papers; playbills; ephemera; printed material; and memorabilia. Because the three scrapbooks were found in a state of disrepair - the rubber cement used to glue the items onto the pages had dried up in many cases - they were disbound and photocopied for reference purposes. The original scrapbook pages are available for research, as photocopies show only outsides of documents on the page; insides of cards or multiple-page letters were not copied. Loose items were removed and foldered separately; these can be viewed in conjunction with photocopies of the original pages, where original placement and Barton's notes on the material are reproduced.

A nearly complete run of the newsletters, The Havelock and Scuttlebutt, which were edited by Jane Barton, can also be found in this subseries (#3.2-3.3). The periodicals include personnel news, official Navy bulletins, and general reports on WAVES activities at the PRNC and (in later issues) nationwide. Original art and photographs from the publications are also included (#3.5). Barton's tenure with the Public Information Office at the PRNC and the United States Naval Barracks is documented in a press book of clippings (#3.7). Stories about WAVES, placed (and often primarily authored) by Barton and her colleagues, appeared in a variety of national newspapers, and offer insights into how the Navy chose to publicize the work and importance of the WAVES. The press book has been photocopied in its entirety, and most clippings discarded.

Post-war material is related to reunions of the WAVES, as well as Barton's later correspondence with ex-WAVES and WAVES officers. The majority of the reunion material pertains to the 1947 and 1948 reunions in New York City, and includes correspondence, clippings, and printed material.

Subseries B, United States Naval Reserve, 1943-1970 (inclusive), 1948-1968 (bulk) (#5.5-6.8, PD.1, PD.2, PD.5, FD.1), contains documents from Barton's 20-year career as a United States Naval Reserve officer. Most material relates to Barton's work at the Albany Training Center, including recruiting and training WAVES, and organizing the public relations arm of the Center. Correspondence and documents also pertain to Barton's active duty, spent at WAVES training days, or boot camps, and as a public relations officer at a variety of local and national offices.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AUDIO-VISUAL, AND MEMORABILIA, 1942-1967 (PD.1-PD.9, FD.1, 7F+B.1-7F+B.12, 8F+B.1-8F+B.19, T-250, Mem.1), includes snapshots and formal portraits, oversized scrapbooks, a Navy pin, and an audiotape.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1942-1967 (PD.1-PD.9), contains official Navy photographs, formal portraits and snapshots of Barton, mostly in uniform, and of her friends and family. Included are images of WAVES anniversaries as well as WAVES visiting tourist sites in Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Most of the photographs in this series are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database.

Subseries B, Oversized, 1942-1956 (FD.1, 7F+B.1-7F+B.12, 8F+B.1-8F+B.19), contains the original pages of the three WAVES scrapbooks and items removed from folders as specified.

Subseries C, Audiovisual, 1944, 1965 (T-250) contains a recording of the United States Navy Band playing a number of WAVES songs in 1944. Barton transferred this recording to the reel-to-reel format in 1965 and recorded an introduction to the music at that time.

Subseries D, Memorabilia, circa 1943-1946 (Mem.1), contains a pin Barton wore on one of her uniforms.

Most folder titles are those of Jane Barton. Additional titles and information added by the processor are in square brackets. Explanatory sticky notes written by Barton in 1992 and 1993 while she was preparing her papers for donation have been photocopied and removed from documents.


Jane Barton was born Jane Greenberg in New York, New York, on April 3, 1918, to Abraham and Matilda (Gries) Greenberg. In 1938 she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Hunter College, and worked as a journalist on and off throughout her life; shortly before graduating she became interested in doing publicity and promotion for radio entertainers. From 1937 to 1939, she worked for Radio Guide, ghostwriting columns and writing radio scripts. Sometime in the summer or early fall of 1939, she legally changed her name to Jane Barton. After serving as Associate Editor at Cleaning and Laundry World (1939-1940), Barton founded her own business (1940) and took on clients among the singers, actors, and announcers in the fields of radio and theater.

In the fall of 1942, Barton was accepted as a candidate for officer training in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), the women's branch of the United States Naval Reserves created during World War II. She was sent to training camp at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, with the first class of officers to be trained there (the fourth class trained overall), and the first class to receive midshipman, or "boot," training. She was then stationed in Washington, D.C., at the Potomac River Naval Command (PRNC). At the PRNC, Barton served as the Assistant to the District Director of the WAVES, as Women's Reserve Representative, and as Assistant Public Relations Officer. In this last capacity, she also served as the editor of two newsletters for WAVES personnel, The Havelock (for officers) and Scuttlebutt (for enlisted women); the two publications merged in November 1943. In 1944, Barton was appointed the Public Relations Officer for the U.S. Naval Barracks (she continued to hold her title at the PRNC). In 1945, she was also Officer-in-Charge of WAVES Officer Quarters at Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C. During her WAVES service, Barton rose in rank from an Ensign to a Lieutenant.

After being de-commissioned in January 1946, Barton returned to New York and again worked as a freelance publicist for radio and theater personalities. She wrote radio news columns for a few New Jersey newspapers. In 1947, she initiated and planned a national reunion for WAVES personnel; she also helped to organize the second reunion the following year. In 1948, when the Navy allowed women to become peace-time members of the Navy, Barton was offered a commission. Although she turned it down in order to take a job working for the state of New York, she did join the U.S. Naval Reserves (USNR).

As an officer in the USNR, Barton trained WAVES (as women recruits continued to be called for some time) in the Albany (New York) Naval Reserve Training Center, and was Public Affairs Officer for the Center. She also served as Albany Naval Reserve representative for the commandant of the Third Naval District. She spent her active duty training WAVES at "boot camps," and doing public relations work for individual training commands and bases, as well as working on national recruiting and publicity campaigns. Barton was made a Lieutenant Commander in 1952, and in 1965 was named a Commander. She retired from the USNR in 1968.

From 1948 to 1973 Barton was a Program Director in the Radio-Television-Motion Picture Bureau of the New York State Department of Commerce. She wrote and produced public service-oriented radio and television programs for distribution to stations around the state, and handled all publicity for the bureau and its programs. She was active in several professional organizations, including American Women in Radio and Television.

In 1954, Barton received a master's degree in Public Administration degree from New York University. In 1955, she bought a farm in Esperance, New York, with Edythe Meserand, a pioneering radio producer. Barton served on the planning board of the town of Charleston, New York, from 1968 to 1972. She contributed articles to the Schenectady Union-Star beginning in 1968, and to Variety after her retirement. Jane Barton died on April 1, 2005, in Esperance, New York.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal
  2. ___Subseries A. Biographical
  3. ___Subseries B. Correspondence
  4. Series II. Professional
  5. ___Subseries A. Jane Barton Publicity
  6. ___Subseries B. New York State employment
  7. ___Subseries C. Other
  8. Series III. Naval service and related
  9. ___Subseries A. WAVES
  10. ___Subseries B. United States Naval Reserve
  11. Series IV. Photographs, oversized, audio-visual, and memorabilia
  12. ___Subseries A. Photographs
  13. ___Subseries B. Oversized
  14. ___Subseries C. Audio-Visual
  15. ___Subseries D. Memorabilia

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 93-M16, 93-M67

The papers of Jane Barton were given to the Schlesinger Library by Jane Barton in 1993.


Donors: Jane Barton

Accession number: 93-M16

Processed by: Jenny Gotwals

The following item has been transferred to the Schlesinger Library book collection:

  1. Joy Bright Hancock, Captain, U.S. Navy (ret.) Lady in the Navy: A Personal Reminiscence. (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1972).

The following item has been transferred to the Schlesinger Library book collection (pending review by curator):

  1. Lieutenant Helen Clifford Gunter USNR (ret.) Navy Wave: Memories of World War II. (Fort Bragg, California: Cypress House Press, 1992).

Processing Information

Processed: February 2007

By: Jenny Gotwals

Barton, Jane. Papers of Jane Barton, 1935-1993 (inclusive), 1940-1968 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950 and the Radcliffe College Class of 1956.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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