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Mss:750 1909-1969 B234

Barber, Earl Huntington, 1883-1974. Earl Huntington Barber Papers, 1909-1969 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:750 1909-1969 B234
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Earl Huntington Barber papers
Date(s): 1909-1969
Quantity: 11 linear feet (4 volumes, 2 boxes, 7 cartons)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Earl H. Barber was a public utility engineer who specialized in gas and electric rates.Includes work notes, correspondence, reports, and articles, largely relating to a number of Massachusetts towns and cities whose gas and light companies Barber investigated.


Gift of Earl H. Barber, 1973

Processing Information:

Processed: October 1997

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information. Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Earl H. Barber Collection. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Earl Huntington Barber (1883-1974), a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., 1910), worked as a laborer, foreman, superintendent and engineer during his early career. During 1912 and 1913, Barber participated in the construction of a sea wall around Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Appointed special assistant to the Attorney General of Massachusetts, Barber provided technical expertise on the Haverhill gas-rate case, planned by Stone & Webster as a challenge to the Commonwealth's rate-setting abilities. In 1915, he was appointed engineer to the Board of Gas and Electric Light Commissioners which oversaw the general supervision of gas, electric and water companies, controlled municipal properties, and set rates in Massachusetts. In 1919, the Board of Gas and Electric Light Commissioners and the Public Service Commission consolidated to become the Department of Public Utilities (D. P. U.), and Barber continued as engineer. In addition, he investigated all complaints against public utility companies and became a spokesman for the department. After leaving the D. P. U. in 1930, Barber undertook a wide variety of private consulting jobs, usually serving as an expert witness or investigator. Barber worked for the federal Rural Electrification Administration (1935-1936) and the Federal Power Commission (1938-1940). In 1951, he was made a life member in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The papers of Earl Huntington Barber date from 1909 to 1969. The bulk of these materials date to the 1920s and 1930s and were created and collected by Barber during his professional career as a civil engineer.
The collection contain articles, speeches, typescripts, notes, correspondence, pamphlets, clippings, drafts, drawings, notices, photographs, negatives, index cards, balance sheets, graphs, agreements, reports, invoices, maps, blueprints, memoranda, diaries and price lists. These papers document the development of public utility regulation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including the organizations that preceded the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the creation of the D. P. U. itself.
The papers in this collection document the various directions taken by the Department of Public Utilities in response to a variety of economic and social trends in the field, as well as in response to the necessities of two world wars. Such trends can be observed in the emphasis placed on price regulation, the types of new plant construction offered, the rapid increase in use of electrical household appliances, the extension and betterment of facilities and finally the criticism and controversies surrounding the rate-setting function of D. P. U.
Of particular note in this collection are the descriptions of civil service and consulting jobs investigated by Barber during from the 1920s through the 1960s. These document the increasing demand for electricity, gas and water between the two world wars, the addition of transmission and distribution lines and increased generating capacities in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Also, the Rural Electrification Association material provides glimpses of the lives of employees of this Depression era federal agency.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Public utilities.
Gas companies -- Massachusetts.
Electric utilities -- Massachusetts.
Reading (Mass.)
Barber, Earl Huntington, 1883-1974.
Massachusetts. Dept. of Public Utilities.
Boston consolidated gas company.
Boston Edison Company.
United States. Rural Electrification Administration.
United States. Federal Power Commission.