Claude A. Barnett papers




Chicago History Museum


175.0 Linear feet


Bulk, 1928-1963




Barnett, Claude, 1889-1967

Biographical note

Claude A. Barnett, enterpreneur, leading American journalist, and public figure, resided most of his life in Chicago, Illinois. He was born on September 16, 1889 in Sanford, Florida. In September1904, he enrolled in Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, finishing the advanced course in only two years. The influence of the school on the rest of Barnett's life cannot be underrestimated. With his fellow Tuskegeeans--classmates, staff, and alumni--Barnett formed a network of associates that he found congenial and helpful throughout his career. Returning to Chicago in 1906, Barnett took a job with the United States Post Office, where he remained ten years. He later recalled this experience as a good opportunity to peruse the newspapers and magazines and to develop an eye for effective writing and advertising. After ill health forced him to leave the Post Office in 1916, Barnett tried his hand at several ventures.

Barnett founded the Associated Negro Press (ANP) in March 1919 on Chicago's South side and remained its director through nearly half a century of enormous social change. The ANP was the largest and longest-lived news service to supply black newspapers in the United States with items such as opinion columns, reviews of books, movies, records, and poetry, cartoons, and photographs. The ANP provided its member newspapers with professionally written, detailed coverage of activities within black communities across the country and the latest news about national trends and events. It thereby fostered a national black conscience and increased black awareness of national news. It also provided a national forum for black leaders, set professional standards of news writing for the black press, helped many small black newspapers to survive, and enabled novice black journalists to gain reporting experience.

Scope and Contents note

Collection includes correspondence, clippings, reports, minutes, speeches, and financial records of Claude Albert Barnett, the director of the Associated Negro Press (ANP); news releases of the ANP (1928-1964) and of the World News Service (1961-1963). Topics include African American newspapers and journalists; colleges, especially Tuskegee Institute and the Conference of Presidents of Negro Land Grant Colleges; businesses, especially advertising, beauty products, and insurance; churches; hospitals; fraternal societies; entertainment; agricultural extension services; racial segregation and integration of the United States armed forces; the home front during World War II; and African travel and culture, especially in Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria. Also includes materials on Barnett's family and the singing and acting career of Etta Moten (Mrs. Barnett), including her correspondence and advertising.

Some records pertain to Barnett's service as a trustee of Tuskegee Institute (1932-65), as special assistant to the U.S. secretary of agriculture (1942-52), and as board member of Phelps-Stokes Fund, of Booker T. Washington Institute in Liberia, of American Negro Exposition (1940 : Chicago), of Supreme Liberty Insurance Company, of Provident Hospital, of The Liberia Company, and of the American National Red Cross.

Processing Information note

This collection was surveyed as part of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium's Survey Initiative on 2010 May 12 by Lisa Calahan and Andrew Steadham.

Related Archival Materials note

Within this repository: Claude A. Barnett Collection of Visual Materials, Thyra Edwards Papers.

Outside of this repository: Associated Negro Press Collection - University of Illinois at Chicago - Special Collections and University Archives, Claude Barnett Research Collection - Northwestern University, Melville J. Herkovits Library of African Studies, Etta Moten Barnett Papers - Chicago Public Library – Carter G. Woodson Regional Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Etta Moten Barnett