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Barlow (John Perry) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: John Perry Barlow papers
    Identifier/Call Number: M2531
    Physical Description: 60 Linear Feet (119 boxes)
    Physical Description: 14 hard drive(s) (external)
    Physical Description: 68 floppy disk(s) (3.5 inch)
    Physical Description: 27 floppy disk(s) (5.25 inch)
    Physical Description: 57 optical disc(s)
    Physical Description: 30 item(s) magneto-optical disk(s) and optical disk cartridge(s)
    Physical Description: 21 item(s) Jaz disk(s)
    Physical Description: 6 item(s) SD card(s)
    Physical Description: 3 computer, portable
    Physical Description: 1 computer, desktop
    Physical Description: 1 zip disk(s)
    Physical Description: 14 flash drive(s)
    Physical Description: 1 item(s) sim card
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2018
    Abstract: John Perry Barlow (1947–2018) was an American writer, technologist, and cattle rancher.
    Material Specific Details: The John Perry Barlow email archive contains racial language, images, or content that may be offensive or harmful. Stanford Libraries collects and makes these materials available to facilitate scholarly research and education, and does not endorse the viewpoints within. Our collections may contain language, images, or content that are offensive or harmful.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research, with the exception of Series 15 and large portions of 16. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.
    Digital materials stored on 5.25" floppy disks have been processed and are open for research. The materials are available through SearchWorks at the collection record: https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/13312451. Materials containing financial information, contact information of third parties, or copyright held by other parties have been restricted, and only thumnail previews are available online; these materials can be accessed at full resolution by visiting the Field Reading Room. The email contained in the collection is available in the Field Reading Room; correspondents and extracted entities (personal and corporate names and locations) from Barlow's email have been published in Stanford's online discovery module: http://epadd.stanford.edu/epadd/collections. The remaining digital portion of the collection is closed until processing is complete.
    Audiovisual and born-digital materials in Series 15 & 16 are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy. Further restrictions may apply.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift; 2019. Accession 2019-371.


    The collection was received with a minimum of original order, and files have subsequently been arranged in to approximate categories, including series for Barlow's writing, correspondence, and activities surrounding technology and the Internet, as well as several series devoted to his personal life, family, ranching, and education. Please note that these are necessarily imprecise divisions, and similar material may be found in various places across the collection.
    The following series have been employed in organizing the collection:
    Series 1. Writing Series 2. Technology & Computers Series 3. Electronic Frontier Foundation Series 4. Articles about Barlow Series 5. Wyoming, Bar Cross Ranch, Parents Series 5. John Perry Barlow Personal & Family Series 6. Personal Correspondence Series 7. Barlow Education Series 8. Wyoming Outdoor Council (WOC) & related Series 8. The Grateful Dead Series 9. Music and Movie-related Series 10. People, Groups, Events, Art Series 11. Politics Series 12. Memorabilia, awards, artifacts, etc. Series 13. Miscellaneous publications & clippings Series 14. Photographs Series 15. Audiovisual Media (CLOSED until processed) Series 16. Born Digital & Hardware (PARTIALLY CLOSED until fully processed) Series 17. Personal/Restricted (CLOSED until 2033)

    Biographical / Historical

    John Perry Barlow (1947 – 2018) was an American writer, technologist, and cattle rancher. Often called "the father of cyberlibertarianism," Barlow was a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a lyricist for the Grateful Dead.
    Born near Cora, Wyoming, Barlow was the only child of Norman Walker Barlow (1905–1972), a Republican state legislator, and his wife, Miriam "Mim" Adeline Barlow Bailey (née Jenkins; 1905–1999). Barlow's paternal ancestors were Mormon pioneers. He grew up on Bar Cross Ranch, a 22,000-acre property his great-uncle founded in 1907.
    At age 15, Barlow became a student at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He later attended Wesleyan University where he was active in creative writing, journalism, theatre, and campus politics and was a member of Alpha Delta Phi. He graduated in 1969 and spent time traveling and living in Connecticut and New York before returning to take over operations at Bar Cross after his father's illness and later death. Barlow subsequently operated the ranch until its sale in 1988.
    After discovering word processing in the early 1980s, Barlow began using the Internet and was an early user on the online community The WELL. An interest in hacking and law enforcement response led to Barlow working with Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore to found the Electronic Frontier Foundation to defend specific hacking cases which later expanded to involvement and advocacy in issues such as music copyright, intellectual property, the open web, and surveillance and privacy rights.
    In addition to policy papers for the EFF (such as the 1996 manifesto "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace"), Barlow was a frequent speaker and panelist at technology conferences and symposia. He wrote extensively for Wired magazine, as well as The New York Times, Mondo 2000, Microtimes, and Communications of the ACM.
    Barlow was president of the Wyoming Outdoor Council from 1978 to 1984, and was active in environmental policy work involving logging and mining interests, acid rain, fracking, and missile testing on public land. In keeping with his father's career, Barlow was also active in Wyoming politics, including stints as chairman of the Sublette County Republican Party and the Sublette County Master Plan Design Commission as well as serving on the Sublette County Planning and Zoning Commission.
    After several years of declining health, Barlow died at the age of 70 on February 7, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], John Perry Barlow papers (M2531). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford Libraries, Stanford, California.

    Scope and Contents

    John Perry Barlow's papers cover the entirety of his life, although there is far more physical material about his earlier years, and his later years are probably better represented in digital files (which are partially closed until they are fully processed). Correspondence has been separated into personal and professional categories and then sorted chronologically, with selected letters refiled in other more relevant series (such as all music publishing correspondence placed in the Grateful Dead series.) The collection also contains Barlow's email account dating from 1996-2009. The email contains correspondence related to Barlow's life, work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and personal and family relationships. The email also documents Barlow's speaking engagements for various academic institutions and his prolific world travels. There are also series for Barlow's writing, as well as writing about him. Most technology/cyberspace files can be found under Electronic Frontier Foundation and the more generic Technology & Computers series. Some categories such as the Photographs and Media series include material from a variety of sources and subjects.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Ranches -- Wyoming
    Computers -- Law and legislation.
    internet -- Government policy -- United States
    internet -- Law and legislation
    Computer networks -- Law and legislation
    Computer networks -- social aspects.
    Technology -- social aspects.
    Barlow, Leah Justine
    Barlow, Anna Winter
    Barlow, Amelia Rose
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Grateful Dead (Musical group)
    Wyoming Outdoor Council
    Lanier, Jaron
    Leary, Timothy, 1920-1996
    Kennedy, John F., Jr., 1960-1999
    Weir, Bob, 1947-
    Gilmore, John
    Steele, Shari
    McCandlish, Stanton
    Templeton, Brad
    Tyre, James S.
    Markoff, John
    Doherty, Will
    Doctorow, Cory
    Mui, Chunka, 1962-
    Levin, Hal