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RG3296.AM:  Joseph Barker, 1806-1875

Papers:  1830-1875

Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska:  Methodist clergyman

Size:  0.75 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Joseph Barker was born at Bramley, Yorkshire, England in 1806.  He became a wool spinner in his youth, but was later sent to Methodist school.  At eighteen he became a local Methodist preacher.  Five years later he became a traveling minister.  In 1830 Barker married Frances Salt and was soon after appointed to chapel in Blyth, Northumberland.  After some circuit preaching he was appointed to the Scotland Street Chapel in Sheffield in 1833.  A year earlier he was chosen president of the First National Conference of the Temperance Society.  In 1837 he published his “Evangelical Reformer.”  He spent much of his time lecturing against socialists. 

In 1841 he published Christianity Triumphant, a volume attacking Robert Owen.  At this time Barker went into the publishing business, producing “cheap editions of good books.”  He began to attack “systematic theology” and because of this he was voted incorrigible and expelled from the Methodist Church.  He and his followers formed the Barkerite or Christian Brethren Sect.  He continued to lecture and publish.  He was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1848 but never claimed his seat.  After two trips to America in 1846 and 1951, Barker decided to emigrate.  He settled in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, in 1856.  In 1860 he returned to England.  Three years later he rejoined the Methodist Church.  After his wife’s death in 1872, Barker returned to Omaha where he died in 1875.


This collection consists of three reels of microfilm and two boxes of manuscript material arranged in four series:  1) Diaries, 1865-1875; 2) Pamphlets and publications, 1830-1875; 3) Book Reviews, 1869-1874; 4) Biographical and Genealogical Material.  This collection relates to Rev. Joseph Barker’s service in the Methodist Church as well as his split from the church and his eventual return to it.  Biographical and bibliographical materials area also included.

The diaries, 1865-1875, of Series 1 are the only materials in this collection on microfilm.  In these, Barker discusses his own recollections, philosophy, doctrines, his appraisal of the human condition, morality, politics, books he is reading, and confusion over his own religious faith and theological problems.  Of special interest are Barker’s explanation of how he became an “unbeliever,” with criticisms of the church included.  Also of interest is Barker’s description of a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, beginning in April 1872.  Barker includes accounts of problems he is having with his son.  A book of sorts appears at the end of the diaries, with the same type of analyses and observations made by Barker.  Much of the material in the diaries is illegible and several of the pages on Reel 3 are torn.

Series 2 contains pamphlets and publications, 1830-1875, by Rev. Joseph Barker.  Included are sermons, pamphlets, books, and short discourses.  The book reviews, 1869-1874, of Series 3 deal with published books of Rev. Joseph Barker.  Series 4 consists of biographical and genealogical studies of the Barker family.  A bibliographical listing of Rev. Joseph Barker’s published works is also included. 

Note:  See also the Barker Family Company collection [RG3295.AM].  See the library for various publications by and about Joseph Barker and the Barker family.  The Douglas County Historical Society holds a collection of letters of Joseph Barker, Jr.


Series 1 – Diaries, 1865-1875

Reel 1 – May 12, 1865-October 29, 1869

Reel 2 – October 30, 1869-October 11, 1871

Reel 3 – October 24, 1871-March 18, 1875; also miscellaneous book

Series 2 – Pamphlets and publications, 1830-1875

Box 1


  1. A Few Hints on Various Subjects, 1831

  2. The Evangelical Reformer and Young Man’s Guide, volume 1, 1838

  3. The Gospel Triumphant, 1839

  4. Various pamphlets by Joseph Barker, 1840-1850

  5. Various pamphlets by Joseph Barker, 1860-1870

  6. Teachings of Experience, 1869

  7. Modern Skepticism: A Life Story, 1874

  8. Various pamphlets by Joseph Barker, undated or incomplete

Box 2


  1. Various writings by Joseph Barker, 1840-1860s

  2. Various writings by Joseph Barker, undated

Series 3 – Book reviews, 1869-1871

  1. Book reviews, 1869-1871

Series 4 – Biographical and genealogical material

  1. Biographical and genealogical material

  2. “The Barker Family of Yorkshire, England” by Francis T.B. Martin


Subject headings:

Barker family

Barker, Joseph, 1806-1875

Clergy — Nebraska — Omaha

Methodist Episcopal Church — Clergy


AIF/pjm               12-18-1979

Revised TMM      09-18-2018