Barbara Southworth Howland was born on November 14, 1889 in Guadalajara, Mexico to missionary parents John Howland and Sarah Southworth Howland. She attended Northfield Seminary in Northfield, Massachusetts and graduated in 1908. After spending a year in Mexico, Howland returned to Massachusetts and attended Mount Holyoke College from 1909-1913 and received a B.A. in English literature. She taught at the Bradford Academy in Bradford, Massachusetts until 1916, and then went to Columbia University Teachers' College in New York. She spent several years in Danielson, Connecticut and married the Reverend Harold H. Barber there in 1918. They moved to Mazatlán, Mexico, where he was a missionary; he died one day before the birth of their son John Howland Barber in 1919. In 1922 she married Walter Clyde Taylor, who was the General Secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association in Mexico City. In 1936 she received her Ph.D. and became the first United States woman to receive a doctorate from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. While in Mexico she tutored students in a variety of subjects and continued to read and research Spanish and Nahuatl. Throughout her adult life she had a strong interest in botany and gardening. She was also quite interested in Mexican customs and published a book in 1969 entitled, "Mexico: Her Daily and Festive Breads." After the death of her husband in 1957, she moved to Claremont, California. She died there on January 27, 1975 at the age of eighty-five.
From the guide to the Taylor papers MS 0797., 1908-1975., (Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections)