Barnes, Mary Sheldon, 1850-1898

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1850-09-15
Death 1898-08-27

Biographical notes:

Student at the University of Michigan.

From the description of Mary Downing Sheldon letter, February 7, 1872. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 83801366

Mary Sheldon Barnes was Professor of History at Stanford University, 1892-1897. The photographs were collected by Barnes and other Stanford faculty and students for her Pacific Slope history class.

From the description of Photographs of North American Indians, 1892-1904. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754864680

Professor of History at Stanford University, 1892-1897.

From the description of Mary Sheldon Barnes collection of Pacific Slope materials, 1769-1898. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122369444

Collected by Mary Sheldon Barnes, Assistant Professor of History at Stanford, from participants of the revolt who were still alive in 1892 and residing in Napa Valley.

From the description of Mary Sheldon Barnes collection of Pacific Slope materials, 1892-1893. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122546442

Mary Downing Sheldon was born in Oswego, New York, on September 15, 1850, the oldest of five children of Frances Stiles and Edward Austin Sheldon, founder and principal of Oswego State Normal and Training School. She was educated in the public schools of Oswego until age sixteen, finishing at the Normal School in 1869. She taught there for two years. In 1871 Sheldon enrolled at the University of Michigan in a classical course, graduating in 1874. She returned to Oswego Normal to teach history, Latin, Greek and botany. In late 1876 she was invited to teach history at Wellesley College where she remained for two and one half years. Her teaching methods, unorthodox for the time and later called the source method, included the use of primary sources, discussion, and problem solving. Because of internal conflicts at Wellesley and poor health she resigned in 1879 and spent a year resting and then two years traveling abroad. She returned to Oswego Normal in 1882 where she wrote her groundbreaking work Studies in General History. It was published in 1885.

Mary Sheldon Barnes, undated

On August 6, 1885, she married a former student, Earl Barnes, who was eleven years her junior. Barnes, a teacher of history and psychology, was appointed head of the department of education at Stanford University in 1891. Mary joined the Stanford history department in March 1892 as assistant professor. She taught nineteenth-century European history and the history of the Pacific Slope. Together the they wrote Studies in American History which was published in 1891 and 1896. Mary subsequently published Studies in Historical Method. It was directed toward teachers and nonhistorians who wanted to understand and apply the historical method.

Both Mary and Earl Barnes resigned their posts at Stanford in 1897 to travel and write in Europe. Mary Sheldon Barnes died of heart disease in London, August 27, 1898. According to the author of Barnes' biography in Notable American Women, "[her importance] in American educational history rests chiefly upon her often misunderstood source method. She intended that students should study the primary sources in an 'independent and solitary' way using her questions as guides to problem solving...in order to develop the student's abilities to observe, to weigh evidence, to generalize and to exercise creative historical imagination....This was a more progressive approach than many teachers of her time or later could understand or apply....The source method hastened the improvement of more conventional history textbooks. Critical thinking came to characterize some of the better general education courses a half century later." (Robert E. Keohane in "Mary Sheldon Barnes," Notable American Women, 1607-1950, Cambridge, Belknap Press, 1971)

From the guide to the Mary Sheldon Barnes Papers MS 217., 1857-1948, 1880-1898, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Professor; Historian.

Born New York State, 1850; graduated from Oswego Normal School, 1869; taught there for two years; graduated University of Michigan, 1874; returned to Oswego Normal to teach history, Latin, Greek and botany. Beginning in 1876, taught history at Wellesley College for two and a half years. Her teaching methods, later called "the source method," included the use of primary sources, discussion, and problem solving. Returned to Oswego Normal in 1882; published groundbreaking work, Studies in General History, 1885. Married Earl Barnes, 1885, teacher of history and psychology; he was appointed head of department of education, Stanford University in 1891. Mary became assistant professor, Stanford, 1892. Together they published Studies in American History, 1891 and 1896. Mary subsequently published Studies in Historical Method. The Barnes resigned their posts at Stanford in 1897 to travel and write in Europe.

From the description of Papers, 1857-1948 (bulk 1880-1898). (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 47883890

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Ark ID:
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Subjects:

  • Female friendship--United States--History--19th century--Sources
  • Sheep--California
  • Women historians--History--19th century--Sources
  • Women historians--United States--History--19th century--Sources
  • Sinkiuse--Columbia Indians--Photographs
  • Miners
  • Education, Higher--History--Sources
  • Europe--Description and travel--Sources
  • Indians of North America--Photographs
  • Mohave Indians--Photographs
  • Higher education--United States--History--Sources
  • College teachers--History--19th century--Sources
  • Female friendship--History--19th century--Sources
  • Historiography--19th century--Sources
  • Bear Flag Revolt, 1846
  • Sheep
  • Mescalero Indians--Photographs
  • Overland journeys to the Pacific
  • Miners--California
  • Apache Indians--Photographs
  • College teachers--United States--History--19th century--Sources
  • Nespelim Indians--Photographs
  • Nez Percé Indians--Photographs

Occupations:

  • Collector

Places:

  • San Benito (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington (as recorded)
  • Napa (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • Sonoma (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • Napa Valley (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Napa (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • Sonoma (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • Round Valley Indian Reservation (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • Mayfield (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • San Benito (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)