The Barbier archive is a vast collection of letters, photographs and other forms of memorabilia relating to the Barbier family, a Victorian-era family with a Franco-British identity who resided in Cardiff. Paul E. E. Barbier (1846-1921) of French descent was a Modern Language Master at Manchester Grammar School, before becoming one of the first lecturers in French Language and Literature at University College of South Wales (Cardiff University as it is known today). Barbier was a significant figure in Cardiff at the time, with his name and works regularly appearing in newspapers and other known publications, found throughout the archive. In 1906 he co-founded the Société Franco-Britannique de Cardiff, a society to promote the ‘friendly relations and mutual understanding between the peoples of France and Great Britain’. In 1872 he married Swiss-born Euphémie Bornet and had a close relationship with the rest of the Bornet family who regularly made visits to Cardiff.
The couple went on to have eight children, four of which, as well as their brother-in-law, were sent to France to fight during the First World War. Much of the archive gives an account of the Barbier family’s experience during the First World War through letters and other means of correspondence. Like his father, the eldest son, Paul E. A. Barbier was a keen linguist. Having grown up in Cardiff, he took an interest in the Welsh language and later went on to publish works such as ‘The Age of Owain Gwynedd. An attempt at a connected account of the history of Wales from December 1135 to November 1170’ which he dedicated to his father. After studying at the University College of South Wales, Paul E. A. Barbier taught French at Gainsborough Grammar School before being appointed Professor in French at the University of Leeds. He was known to be an inspiring teacher and excellent linguist, returning to Leeds after his national service where he remained until his retirement in 1938.