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Irma Josephine Barber

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Information about Irma Josephine Barber

Profile image of Irma Josephine Barber

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
City Government Employee
Seamstress

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Aquamarine
Favorite Food:
Garlic
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
California
Favorite Quote:
In One Ear And Out The Other.

Birthplace

Born:
3/13/1904
Birth Location:
New Orleans, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
City Government Employee
Seamstress

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Aquamarine
Favorite Food:
Garlic
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
California
Favorite Quote:
In One Ear And Out The Other.

Birthplace

Born:
3/13/1904
Birth Location:
New Orleans
See how Irma Josephine Barber is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Irma Josephine Barber was born Irma Josephine Mason on March 13, 1904, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Raised Catholic by her parents, Barber enjoyed attending a private Catholic school and planned to become a nun. When her father, who had supported the family by working for the city of New Orleans, died, she had to leave school to help her mother, brother and three sisters. In 1918, the family moved to Chicago, seeking greater opportunity. In the city, Barber and her sisters were able to earn money working as seamstresses.

Barber was living in the Black Belt when the murder of a young black man at the 31st Street Beach triggered the infamous Chicago Race Riot of 1919. The riot went on for days. She later married and stayed at home to raise her four children. When her husband died in 1949, Barber took a job as a calculator in the Chicago Department of Forestry. She worked for the Forestry Department for thirty-eight years before finally retiring at age eighty-three.

Her four children rated as Barber's greatest successes. All four of her children went on to earn advanced college degrees and worked as teachers. The oldest, Shirley Dillard, worked as a teacher and assistant principal before retiring. Daughter Barbara Bonner was a teacher of special education before her death. Barber's only son, Vaughn Barber, taught school before earning a law degree and starting his own firm, from which he retired. The youngest of Barber's children, Beverly Martin, was a retired teacher who taught at Truman College and DePaul University.

Barber and her family were members of the NAACP. She was an excellent seamstress before her diminished vision forced her to give up sewing, and she also enjoyed gardening and tending to her roses. A devoted Catholic, Irma Barber was a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church.

Barber passed away on February 17, 2004 at age 99.

See how Irma Josephine Barber is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Irma Josephine Barber's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Irma Josephine Barber lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her childhood favorite foods
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Irma Josephine Barber remembers the names of her childhood churches and schools and the area she grew up in in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her childhood hobbies
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about Mardi Gras, music, and foods of her childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls her childhood personality and interest in education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her dreams of becoming a nun and her relationship to her relatives
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Irma Josephine Barber remembers her father's illness and death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois as a teenager, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois as a teenager, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls working in raincoat factory and the area she lived in in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Irma Josephine Barber describes her memories of 35th Street in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Irma Josephine Barber notes differences between Chicago and New Orleans and remembers her parish in Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls the use of horses and streetcars in Chicago, Illinois in the 1910s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls meeting her husband through church in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls her marriage and talks about her husband's work as Fred Harvey waiter
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls the demands of her husband's job and their honeymoon trip to California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her husband's interest in Haiti
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her mother's adoption of a girl in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls her family's move to Englewood in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls her family's move to Englewood in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her husband's family background and personality
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her husband's parenting
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her husband's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about how she supported her family after her husband's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her children's post-secondary education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls working for the City of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about working for the City of Chicago, Illinois under the Daley administration and retiring at eighty-four
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about the prospects of having a black mayor in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Irma Josephine Barber remembers the 1919 riots
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about her family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about moving out of Englewood and her concerns for young African Americans
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Irma Josephine Barber talks about the role of religion in her life and others' lives
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Irma Josephine Barber reflects upon her achievements
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Irma Josephine Barber reflects upon how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Irma Josephine Barber shares her health secrets
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Irma Josephine Barber recalls an issue with family land in Mississippi during her childhood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Irma Josephine Barber describes how streetcars were segregated in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Irma Josephine Barber describes riding on a segregated train in the 1950s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Irma Josephine Barber describes how her faith, exercise, and her diet have kept her healthy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Irma Josephine Barber narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Irma Josephine Barber narrates her photographs, pt. 2