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Papers of journalist Frank Barrows now available for research

Headshot of Frank Barrows

Atkins Library has acquired the papers of the late Frank Barrows, former managing editor of the Charlotte Observer. The collection, donated by his wife Mary Newsom, provides a window into the career of a man who was one of Charlotte’s most accomplished journalists and a champion of open government.

The Barrows papers contain guides related to journalism credibility as well as correspondence surrounding the function and goals of the Observer newsroom and Barrows’ work with the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. A few articles and research notes concerning UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball coach Dean Smith are also included in the collection from Barrows’ time as a sports reporter in the late 1970s.

Frank Barrows grew up in Martinsville, Va. and earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Andrew’s College in Laurinburg, N.C. He began work at the Observer in 1969 as a sports reporter shortly after graduating from college, eventually working his way up to newsroom management. In 1988, the Observer won a Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service for its investigation into televangelist Jim Bakker, which Barrows co-directed as a city-desk editor. He went on to serve as managing editor of the Observer from 1992-2005. 

After leaving the paper, Barrows founded the Open Government Coalition at Elon University, which advocates for open access to public records and meetings. Frank Barrows died on June 12, 2019 at the age of 72.

An online guide to the collection is available and the Frank Barrows papers are open for research in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of J. Murrey Atkins Library (see hours).

-Andrew Pack