J. Neilson Barry Collection
J. Neilson Barry (1870-1961) was a prolific writer of Pacific Northwest history. A tireless and persistent researcher, he valued objectivity over romanticism, detail over generalization. Barry, wrote William L. Lang in a 1992 essay in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, "pursued historical topics with an uncommon fervor and a penchant for debate."
Trained as an Episcopal priest, Barry retired early and turned to history as a full-time avocation. During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, he wrote more than fifty articles and research briefs for the Oregon, Washington, and Pacific Northwest historical quarterlies and many more articles for Northwest newspapers. The details of history were the objects of his pursuit, particularly the details surrounding Astoria, Lewis and Clark, the exploration of the Columbia River, the Oregon Trail, and the establishment of government in Oregon. He corresponded widely and compiled extensive files of research notes. In 1957 he presented his papers to Boise Junior College, where they now form MSS 1 in the Special Collections Department of the Boise State University Library.