Interview with Ernest Barr

Interview with Ernest Barr

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Ernest Barr:


"The reason for my wanting to go into the experiments was that I was afraid the people would think I was a coward. You are plumbing some depths I haven't explored for a long time. I felt that splitting wood was not what I had in mind as work of national importance. As another interesting sidelight, but there were guys in camp who, not jokingly, called me and the other guys who decided to go on timber cruising war workers. The idea was that the government was resurveying this land and they would sell that timber to, I guess, the highest bidder. No doubt the lumber was going to something in the defense industry. And so that made a person a war worker when they did that. There were all kinds of people. That was an introduction to life.

I would be real interested in knowing what you thought work of national importance was, what your idea of it was, before you got totally involved.

I hadn't a clue as to what they meant by that. It was a phrase, you know, with quotation marks around it. I did feel that the two guinea pig experiments were work of national importance. I did feel that. And it didn't make any difference to me that Army Major Abernathy was the physician who ran the experiment on atypical pneumonia. I knew that whatever I was doing was going to be helpful to somebody. I knew that I was working in CPS and if it happened to be an Army doctor who knew about this, I could live with that. So I felt that and the hepatitis experiment was of national importance and I was glad to do that.


--Taken from Siuslaw National Forest and Portland State University History Department. "Camp 56: An Oral History Project." Pp 12-6.

For more of the interview see <>