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Barnett Studio Photographs [Freeland Collection]

Collection 90

Barnett Studio. Photographs, 1910–1972 [Freeland Collection]

2 feet, 6 inches; 45,000 images

Eli Barnett was born May 4, 1841, near Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of William and Mary (Allen) Barnett. In 1856 he moved to Madison County, Iowa, where he married Louisa Cook in 1864. The couple had four sons, Alfonso Lynn (1865-1959), Ora (died in infancy), Edwin (or Eli) E. (1869-1943) and Burritt Allen (1876-1956). In 1876 the family moved to Harvey, Kansas, and in 1888 they moved to Jennings, Louisiana, where Louisa died in 1890. After working in Lake Charles for several years, Eli and his sons Alfonso and Burritt settled in Crowley, where they opened the Barnett Studio in Crowley about 1898. Alfonso eventually took over the studio, while Burritt opened a paint and wallpaper business. Eli died August 6, 1927, Burritt August 9, 1956, and Alfonso March 3, 1959.

Using glass plate negatives and later nitrate and then safety film, the Barnetts photographed the people of Crowley with sensitivity and perception as well as with an instinct for artistic and aesthetic expression. The Barnett negatives comprise a rare visual record of Crowley’s history, and convey the spirit and values which molded our modern society.

After the Studio closed the collection was saved from destruction by Reverend Paul Freeland, who recognized the historical value and exceptional photographic quality of the negatives. Before his death he arranged for the 18,000 glass plates and 40,000 film negatives to be deposited at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). These are almost entirely studio photographs. Photographs of Crowley and rice farming were donated to the Acadia Parish Library. Freeland also made prints of many rice farming photographs which were donated to UAAMC [view Collection 17]

[Narrative adapted from Becoming Woman: a Sequence of Louisiana Portraits, and from entries in the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography on Eli and A. L. Barnett]

The negatives were microfilmed for preservation and use through a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in 1980-81.

Besides the photographic negatives, the collection includes the Studio’s day books.

This index to the glass plate negatives was compiled by Betty Mier from information found in the daybooks. Approximately 1/3 of the collection has been thus identified.