James H. Barnett

Name James H. Barnett
Born October 9 1906
Died June 6 1992
Birth Location Kentucky

Sociologist and briefly the community analyst at Gila River . James Harwood Barnett (1906–92) was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, and graduated from Berea College with an A.B. degree in 1928. M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania followed. First hired as an instructor in sociology at the University of Connecticut in 1935, he remained there for his entire academic career, becoming a full professor and chairman of the Sociology Department in 1948 and retiring in 1970. His research focused on the sociology of art and literature, and his best known work was a 1954 book titled The American Christmas , which traced the evolution of Christmas celebration in the United States.

During World War II, Barnett did a very brief stint as a community analyst at Gila River. According to anthropologist Peter T. Suzuki, Barnett was at Gila for just 36 days, April 5 to May 11, 1943, during which time he wrote just a handful of reports. Explanations for his short stay at Gila vary. According to his successor, G. Gordon Brown , "his health failed him within two weeks, and he was forced to resign." Citing a report by Community Analysis Section head Edward Spicer , Peter T. Suzuki reported that he had to leave because he "got into trouble over fraternizing with evacuees." In a 1987 interview, Robert F. Spencer , the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study fieldworker at Gila who befriended him during his brief stay, stated that Barnett left for personal reasons, unsure of what his role was to be and missing his wife. Brown arrived at Gila on June 30 and served as the community analyst there for just under two years. [1]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Turkington, Cheryl C. Finding aid, James H. Barnett Papers. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. University of Connecticut. 2005.


  1. G. Gordon Brown, "Final Report: War Relocation Authority, Gila River Project, Rivers, Arizona, Community Analysis Section," Applied Anthropology 4.4 (1945), 4; Peter T. Suzuki, "Anthropologists in the Wartime Camps for Japanese Americans: A Documentary Study." Dialectical Anthropology 6.1 (Aug. 1981), 47n21; Interview with Robert F. Spencer by Arthur A. Hansen, July 15–17, 1987, in Japanese American World War II Evacuation Oral History Project, Part III: Analysts , edited by Arthur A. Hansen (Munich: K. G. Saur, 1994), 309–10, accessed online on May 21, 2014 at http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=ft0p30026h .

Last updated April 30, 2024, 6:01 p.m..