This Day is Wyoming History… Happy Birthday Governor & Senator Barrett

Today is the birthday of former governor, US Senator and World War I veteran Frank Barrett.

No Neg, P73-3-2, H65-208-2, Frank Barrett portrait, with handwritten comments

Happy Birthday to Wyoming Governor and Senator Frank Barrett!
(WSA P73-3/2)

Frank A. Barrett was born in Omaha, Nebraska on November 10, 1892. He resided in Omaha during the early years of his life, graduating from hometown Creighton University in 1913 and from Creighton’s law school in 1916.

Barrett Collection school record examples

Examples of Senator Barrett’s middle and university school records. He presented the speech “A Usable Wage” in Chreighton’s 1913 annual oratorical contest.
(WSA H97-33)

During World War I he served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s Balloon Corps. After the war he married his childhood sweetheart, Alice Donoghue, in 1919. They were married by Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys’ Town. Shortly thereafter the young couple moved to Lusk, Wyoming where Frank set up shop as an attorney.

Barrett Print 4, Alice Barrett and children, 1920s-30s

After college, Barrett married his childhood sweetheart, Alice.
(WSA Barrett Print 4, Alice Barrett and children, ca 1928)

Barrett served as Niobrara County Attorney from 1923 to1932. His public service career then shifted to the state legislature, where he served from 1933 to 1935. He lost a 1936 bid for a U.S. Congressional seat, but succeeded in that effort six years later. He served as Wyoming’s Representative until 1950, when he was elected Governor of Wyoming. Historian T.A. Larson noted that while in Congress Barrett “acquired a reputation for folksiness, alertness to the needs of his constituents, and attention to details.”

Barrett Print 64, Gov Barrett at desk in Capitol 1951026

Governor Barrett seated at his desk in the Capitol Building, 1951.
(WSA Barrett Print 64)

Barrett only served two years as Governor of Wyoming, winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1952. He was Senator for six years, but failed in re-election efforts in 1958 and 1960. Senator Barrett died on May 30, 1962.

H97-33, Congressional Records and Senate report by Barrett023

Three opinions and reports given by Barrett during his time as US Senator.
(WSA H97-33)

The records of Governor Barrett maintained by the Wyoming State Archives consist of subject files maintained by his staff. Through correspondence, reports and meeting minutes, the files document interaction with state officials and agencies, and cover issues of concern to the state at that time.

Sub Neg 176 deriv, Sen Barrett attaching name plate made by Mrs Opal Templeton of Lusk

Senator Barrett attaching the bucking horse name plate made by Mrs Opal Templeton of Lusk to his office door.
(WSA Sub Neg 176)

Personal papers and political records of Senator Barrett are also held by the State Archives. These are cataloged as collection H97-33. Much of the collection deals with Senator Barrett’s political career and concurrent events. However, the collection also documents the activities and accomplishments of the family from Senator Barrett’s youth to the careers of his children, Frank A. Barrett, a surgeon; James Emmett Barrett, a federal judge; and Marialyce Tobin, an attorney.

H97-33, Home & School Speaker cover and example page

This child’s speech textbook was given to Barrett in 1901, according to the inscription. It is a “practical manual of delsarte exercises and elocution” complete with diagrams of gestures. Perhaps this book helped the young Barrett to develop the skills that served him so well as both a lawyer and a politician.
(WSA H97-33)

These collections document the lives of one of Wyoming’s most influential families, and events and issues which impacted the state during the mid-years of the 20th century.

Barrett Neg 87 derivative, Barrett family photo, 1951

Governor and his family at the Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne, 1951.
(WSA Barrett Print 87)

— Curtis Greubel, Wyoming State Imaging Center Supervisor

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