Barden Lecture

The History of the Barden Chair

The Barden Chair was established in 1971 in honor of Graham A. Barden, Congressman from what was then the 3rd District of NC from 1935-1961 (13 terms, 26 years of service).

“Hap” Barden was born in Sampson County in 1896, served in the Navy during WWI, and after the war earned a law degree from UNC in 1920. He then worked as a lawyer in New Bern, and taught at the high school there. He served as a judge in Craven County during the 1920s, and was a member of the NC legislature before being elected to the United States Congress in 1934.

In Congress, he served on and chaired (for ten years) the Education Committee, which later became the Education and Labor Committee.  He decided not to seek re-election in 1960, as health problems required his retirement. Graham Barden died in 1967, and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern. There is an official historical marker there to his memory on Broad Street.  An elementary school in Havelock (Craven County), NC is named after him.

His papers are in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. The webpage devoted to the collection states: “As a whole, the Barden Collection illustrates legislative trends, particularly in education and labor, from the Depression to the Kennedy years, and the role that Barden played as a member and chairman of an important House Committee. Major issues include federal aid to education, labor-management relations, labor standards, and minimum wage legislation.”

That website goes on to note: “Barden was also instrumental in the establishment and development of several military installations in his district, including Camp Lejeune Marine Base and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.”

We have important archival materials from the period during which the Barden Chair was created to honor the man and his service to North Carolina, and to the country. They document the efforts of the many—especially former Campbell University President Dr. Norman Adrian Wiggins--who worked so hard to honor the Congressman. Those materials also make it clear how crucial Graham A. Barden was in helping Campbell move from junior college to senior college status in 1961, and eventually to become Campbell University.

Dr. Elmer Puryear was selected as the first Barden Chair in 1971, and published an excellent book Graham A. Barden: Conservative Carolina Congressman on the man and his service to the United States. The Chair was subsequently held by Dr. James Abrahamson (1986-1994) and Dr. Martin Sellers (1994-2002); both were chairman of the GHJ (now HCP) Department.  Since 2006 Dr. David Thornton has held the Barden Chair.

The most important task of the Chair is to organize the annual Barden lecture for students, faculty and University community. See the accompanying list of distinguished speakers who have come to our campus in recent years.

We are grateful to the Barden family for their continued support of the Department of History, Criminal Justice and Political Science, and of Campbell University.


Barden Lecture Series Speakers

1991 – John Dorman, President of the Public School Forum of North Carolina

1992 – Thomas C. Ricketts, School of Public Health UNC-Chapel Hill

1993 – David Price, US Representative NC 4th District

1994 – Thurman Hampton, NC Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety

1995 – James Abrahamson, Former Barden Chair of Government at CU

1996 – David Funderburk, US Representative NC 2nd District

1997 – Bob Etheridge, US Representative NC 2nd District

1998 – Gary B. Eichelberger, Director of Victim & Justice Services Division, NC Department of Crime & Public Safety

1999 – Richard Moore, NC Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety

2000 – Walter Jones, US Representative NC 3rd District

2001 – Willis P. Whichard, Dean, Norman A. Wiggins School of Law

2002 – Tom Lock, Johnston County District Attorney

2003 – Charlie Albertson, North Carolina State Senator

2004 – Colonel John Sollis, USMC Retired

2005 – Robin Hayes, US Representative NC 8th District

2006 – Major General Ray Smith, USMC Retired

2007 – Ambassador T. Frank Crigler, Retired

2008 – Rob Christensen, reporter (Raleigh N&0) and author on North Carolina politics

2009 – Cortlandt Barnes, American hostage in Iran, 1979

2010 – Richard Kohn, Professor of History, UNC-Chapel Hill

2011 – Akram Khater, Middle East Studies North Carolina State University

2012 –Thomas Patterson, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University