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The Barker Collection 

Alfred Charles Barker and family. Glass plate negative. Barker Collection, Canterbury Museum 1944.78.323

Barker Family
Colonial Christchurch

The Barker Collection 

By Paulien Martens, Curator Human History

The Barker Collection contains over 4,000 letters, photographs and personal artefacts related to the Barker family. This Collection is especially well-known for the photographs of Dr Alfred Charles (A C) Barker, which provide an intimate insight into the development of colonial Christchurch and its people. We look after over 600 of Barker’s photographs taken between 1858 and 1872. Prior to these images, the only pictorial sources we have available to us of Christchurch are paintings, drawings and hand-drawn maps. This makes them an invaluable source for researching how the settlement and its people changed over time.

The personal items of the Barker family in this Collection also shed light on aspects of colonial family life. A C Barker and his wife Emma (née Bacon) arrived in Lyttelton at the end of 1850 on board the Charlotte Jane with their three young children, Richard, Samuel and Arthur. Alfred was the shipboard surgeon and established a medical practice once he arrived in Christchurch, taking up photography a few years later. Alfred and Emma would go on to have five more children: Sarah Elizabeth, Mary, Francis, John and William. Sadly, Emma died in 1858, not long after the birth of their eighth child.

Collection highlights 

Barker's Panorama
Sewing Box 2
2020 72 2 Brooch 01
Emma and Mary barker
Alred Barkers Letter
Provincial Council Buildings 002