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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Julius A. Barr Photograph Albums and Films

Identifier: 2019-10-24
The Julius A. Barr Photograph Albums and Films document Barr's personal life, flight training, and career in China from 1926-1939 with more than 1,600 photographs and 11 short films. The collection is of interest not only for its relation to aviation history but for the imagery of life in China in the late 1930s. The collection is arranged by format.

The five photograph albums consist of black-and-white snapshots taken by Barr. The albums are ordered chronologically. Album numbers were assigned by the archivist. The first album is labeled "Julius A. Barr, Flying Cadet A.C." and measures approximately 11.5x7.5x2". It includes 268 photos plus 11 loose photos tucked into album, spanning 1926-1927. The album documents Barr's flight training with the Army Air Corps at Brooks Field and Kelly Field, Texas. The images feature military training scenes, including aircraft and aircraft accidents; buildings at the camp; sites in San Antonio; and other military cadets at leisure and in informal portraits. The majority of images are identified with captions handwritten on the album pages. A few pieces of ephemera are included in the album, including some fabric samples from the Army airship TC-10-243, which was wrecked, and some clippings.

The second album is unlabeled but has a brown decorative cover and measures 12.5x9.5x2". It consists of 263 photographs primarily documenting Barr's personal life and his time in China, spanning 1929-1931. The images feature Barr's family members, including his wife Hortense and their first child, Jo Ann; a group portrait of members of the Toronto Flying Club; a signed group portrait of pilots at an airshow at Selfridge Field, Michigan in 1929; scenes leaving Seattle and aboard the ship to China; scenes of daily life in Hanking, Nanking [Nanjing], and Tawenkow; and informal portraits of friends and associates in China. Some images have brief captions or identifications penned directly onto the prints, but many images are unidentified.

The third album is a black album with a decorative dragon cover. The dimensions are approximately 11.25x15x2". It is comprised of 514 photos and 5 photomechanical prints affixed to the pages, plus 5 loose photos tucked into the album, covering 1932-1933. Like the previous album, this album is a mix of documentation of Barr's personal life as well as career-related events. The images feature Barr's wife and daughter; scenes of the Chinese military; historic sites in China; aircraft and business associates; travel scenes from a trip to the U.S., including Denver, Colorado and Cheyenne, Wyoming, presumably to visit family; and some snapshots of H.S. "Newsreel" Wong. Tucked into the album is a menu for a "Sayonara" dinner aboard the S.S. President McKinley from January 16, 1932. Identifications in this album are minimal.

The fourth album is a black paper album without a cover, measuring 15.25x11x1.5". It consists of 365 photos from approximately 1934-1935. Like the other albums, this one has many snapshots of family and friends, but also includes aviation-related content. Images depict the unloading crates of containing Boeing planes; construction of a hangar at Nan Hu Field, Wuchang; General Chiang Kai-Shek arriving in in Yunan in May 1935 and inspecting the Loyang School in October 1935; informal portraits and snapshots of Marshal Zhang Xueliang; snapshots with business associates, including Wellwood Beall; historic and natural sites; scenes in various towns, including Wuchang, Hankow, Kuling [Guling], Nan Hu [Nanhui Xian], Kwei Yang [Guiyang, Guizhou Sheng], Yunan [Yunnan], Nanking [Nanjing], and Sian [Xi'an]; and scenes of river flooding. Some photos are identified with inscriptions on the prints.

The fifth and final album is black with no decoration, measuring 14.75x10.75x1.25". It has no title and includes 242 photos affixed in the album, plus five loose photos tucked into the album. There are no dates, captions, or other identifications. The images are primarily personal snapshots of Barr's wife, children, and friends. Locations appear to primarily be in Australia; other locations in the South Pacific might also be represented. Australian animals appear in several photos, and the Chinese consulate in Australia is also depicted. Some of the loose photos are panoramic cityscapes of Sydney, Australia created from series of individual shots. This album has little aviation-related content.

The 11 black-and-white films in the collection date from the 1930s and are all under five minutes long. All were presumably shot by Barr. Most of the films contain travel footage shot by Barr during his time in China, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. Two of the films depict flooding of the Yangtze Rivers, circa 1935, as well as footage of an autogyro in flight. One film contains footage of the assembly of a Boeing 247D aircraft.


  • 1926-1939


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. . For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


2 Cubic Feet (3 flat boxes)


Julius A. Barr had a varied flight career in the 1920s and 1930s, notably spending time as a personal pilot to Chinese military figures and later working as a Boeing test pilot. The collection includes 5 albums with more than 1,600 photographs and 11 films that document his personal life and career.

Biographical Note: Julius A. Barr

Julius A. Barr had a varied flight career in the 1920s and 1930s, notably spending time as a personal pilot to Chinese military figures and later working as a Boeing test pilot.

Julius Augustus Barr was born on December 6, 1905 to Oren and Margaret Barr in Normal, Illinois. Barr had a varied flight career. He served in the Army Air Corps, completing cadet training at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas from 1926-1927. During the late 1920s he was a transcontinental air mail pilot and spent several years flying for United Airlines. Barr then spent time in China, demonstrating military aircraft to the Chinese government. He also performed, either by choice or detainment (reports vary), as the personal pilot for Zhang Xueliang, known as the "Young Marshal", who ruled much of northern and northeast China from the late 1920s-1930s and was one of the instigators of the 1936 Xi'an Incident (the kidnapping and imprisonment of Chiang Kai-Shek to force him to unite with Communists against the Japanese invasion). Barr was released from Zhang's service and immediately joined Chiang Kai-shek, becoming one of five personal pilots for General Chiang and his wife, Madame Chiang. Notably, Barr flew the couple to safety just five days prior to the sack of Nanjing (China) by Japanese forces in December 1937.

Barr returned to the U.S. in 1938, departing from Hong Kong aboard the S.S. Empress of Russia and arriving at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, on November 14. Shortly thereafter he joined Boeing Aircraft Company as an engineer and test pilot. On March 18, 1939, Julius Barr died during flight test number 19 of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner when the plane suffered engine failure and crashed near Alder, Washington, killing all onboard.

Barr married Effie Hortense on July 1, 1928, and they had two children, Jo Ann and Gene Edward (born 1933). Barr is buried in Mount Olive Cemetery, Pittsburg, Kansas.


Biography derived from collection materials and records on and

Custodial History

The collection was donated by Barr's granddaughter.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Materials

The Museum has two other collections related to Julius Barr, the Julius A. Barr Photograph Album (accession number 2018-00-00-6) and the Julius Barr Clippings (accession number 2018-00-00-3).

The Museum also has the Walt Sobol Photographs and Negatives (accession number 2018-10-02) which also contains photographs related to the aviation industry in China in the 1930s.
Guide to the Julius A. Barr Photograph Albums and Films
Completed - Level 3
N. Davis
2021 September
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
3rd edition

Revision Statements

  • June 2020: Updated related agents, corrected minor misspellings.
  • June 2021 : Updated information about films and added subject terms
  • September 2021: Updated subject headings.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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