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Paul B. Barringer papers

Identifier: MS-34

Scope and Contents

The collection includes letters written to his parents in 1881 and 1882 while Dr. Barringer was traveling in Europe; a paper he wrote on death; a chapter in German from his memoir, "The Natural Bent;" other biographical material; and newspaper clippings regarding a proposed demolition of his home in 1983.


  • Creation: 1881 - 1983

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Paul Brandon Barringer was born in western North Carolina on February 13, 1857. He entered the University of Virginia as a student in 1875, received his medical degree in 1877, and earned his supplemental degree of doctor of medicine from the University of New York the following year. After graduation he practiced medicine in Gaston County, North Carolina for several years and then went on his "Grand Tour" to Europe in 1981. While there he visited medical centers in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, and Vienna. Returning to the United States in 1882, he settled in Charlotte, North Carolina, married, and practiced medicine. In 1886 he accepted a position as resident physician at Davidson College, a college founded by his maternal grandfather, Robert Hall Morrison. He founded his own "Preparatory School for Medical Students," giving courses in anatomy, histology, physiology, and biology.

In 1889 he was asked to succeed Dr. James Cabell as Professor of Physiology and Surgery at the University of Virginia; he held this position until 1907. He was Chairman of the Faculty from 1896 to 1903, and labored unceasingly for the construction of a University Hospital and for the development of clinical facilities for the School of Medicine. When the first unit of the University Hospital opened in 1901, Dr. Barringer became its superintendent. He was also instrumental in directing the addition of the Hospital's South Wing in 1905 and the North Wing in 1907. In 1907 he left the University to become President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute where he remained until his retirement in 1912.

The Barringer House in Charlottesville was built in 1894 and moved into by the Barringer family in 1897. It exemplifies the Queen Anne architecture popularized during the late nineteenth century while also reflecting High Gothic Victorian influences. Located close to the medical school, Barringer encouraged medical students to visit his home frequently and they willingly did. Avoiding proposed demolition in the early 1980s, the house was restored and became the French House for the University in 1986.

Both a writer and a teacher, Dr. Barringer authored a standard text on physiology and published papers on syphilis, cholera, typhoid fever, and poisonous reptiles. Like many other “Southern Progressives” of his time, Dr. Barringer was an outspoken advocate for white supremacy. In the early 1900s, he was best known outside of Virginia as the author of a series of essays that promoted racial inequality.

Dr. Barringer was a member of the Raven Society; elected honorary president of the University of Virginia Alumni Association; and a president of the Medical Society of Virginia, an organization in which he was a member for 50 years. The Barringer Wing of the University of Virginia Hospital was named after him. In 2019, the name of this wing was changed to the Collins Wing, in honor of Dr. Francis S. Collins. Barringer died on January 9, 1941, in Charlottesville.


.5 Linear Feet


The box is arranged chronologically.

Physical Description

1 box, 5" x 10.5" x 15.5," 0.5 linear feet, 47 items


Processed by:
Historical Collections Staff
A Guide to the Paul B. Barringer Papers, 1881-1983
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States