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Frank Barrows papers

Identifier: MS0603

Content Description

This collection consists largely of material generated during Barrows' time as Managing Editor at the Charlotte Observer and focuses on his efforts during the crisis of credibility in journalism in the 1990s. It also includes several of his emails with colleagues concerning journalism credibility and the function of the Observer newsroom. There is also a small amount of material related to his work with the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.


  • Creation: 1975-2008

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Frank Barrows papers are the physical property of J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections. Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Clemence Barrows was born on November 2, 1946 in Lewes, Delaware to John and Myra Barrows. Frank grew up in Martinsville, Virginia where his newspaper career began working for the Martinsville Bulletin while in high school. He attended St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, North Carolina, where he received his Bachelor's Degree. After college, Barrows did a short stint at the Greensboro Daily News before moving to the Charlotte Observer, where he would remain for most of his career.

Barrows began work at the Observer in 1969 as a sports columnist and special projects reporter, where he covered ACC basketball and interviewed such important figures as UNC basketball coach Dean Smith. In 1981, he moved up into newsroom management and in 1987 was one of two city-desk editors who directed the investigation into televangelist Jim Bakker, which won the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service. In 1992, Barrows became the managing editor of the Charlotte Observer and remained in that position until 2005. He also founded the Open Government Coalition at Elon University, which advocates for open access to public records and meetings. Barrows was also heavily involved in the crisis of credibility in journalism and sought ways to increase the public's trust in the media and fought for accurate and responsible reporting. In his later years, he also served as interim advisor to The East Carolinian, the student newspaper at East Carolina University. Additionally, Frank co-founded and was President of the Charlotte chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Frank Barrows died at his home in Charlotte on June 12, 2019. His contributions to the Observer over his career are innumerable and he left a lasting impact on the newsroom and the culture of the workplace.



2 Linear Feet (4 Legal Document Cases)

Language of Materials



Papers documenting Barrows' work as Managing Editor at The Charlotte Observer and his efforts around journalism credibility to increase the public's confidence in the news media. Contains articles, correspondence, guidelines and handbooks.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

Journalism Credibility, Newsroom Guidelines, Correspondence and Commentary, Articles Concerning Journalism and Writing, Personal Writings and NC Open Government Coalition.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated by Mary Newsom, wife of Frank Barrows.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Andrew Pack in 2020.

Frank Barrows papers
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

Special Collections and University Archives
J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
(704) 687-1170
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