Manuscripts by Barbour in the collection include the novels The Black Power Revolt (1969), The Bone Orchard, and the compilation Black Seventies (1970), edited by Barbour, as well as Barbour's plays, short stories, essays, poems, and a music score with lyrics by Barbour. Plays in the collection include Antony and Cleopatra (1960), The Firefly Arcade (1960), Auto Sacramental (1961), The Bird Cage (1962-69), Gates to Any Kingdom (1962-70), Oranges (1963), The Cardboard House (1963), Sweet Jesus (1965-79), Esso (1970-74), Captain America (1971-79), Day Work (1974-77), Plug Nickel (1978) and, The Children of August. Short stories included are “Dark Hyacinth”, “Mrs. Brown,” and “The Unfinished Cathedral.” Also present are Barbour's essays, “Afro-American Arts and Humanities” and “Purpose: In Search of My Father’s Garden.” Poems include “Anthony and Cleopatra,” “Spiraling Downward,” “Not to be Misunderstood,” “Truth in dreams,” “Summer,” “Winter,” along with several untitled poems. Also included is a manual by Barbour titled “Some Notes on Teaching Black Studies” and the musical score, “Summer” to which Barbour wrote the lyrics.
Other manuscripts in the collection consist of writings by Lance Jeffers, including his essay "The Death of the Defensive Posture: Toward Grandeur in Afro-American Letters," Casablanca and Other Poems by L. S. Asekoff, and several short stories and poems by unidentified authors.
Correspondence includes letters regarding Barbour's The Black Power Revolt (1969), Black Seventies, and The Bone Orchard, as well as several postcards. Notable correspondents include Susan Channing, William Cohen, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Elijah Muhammad, Adam Clayton Powell, Bayard Rustin, and Howard Zinn. Included with the letters are several short biographies of contributors to The Black Power Revolt and Black Seventies with notes on their works by Barbour.
Printed material includes the published version of Barbour's short story "Dark Hyacinth," for Essence magazine (Aug. 1979), as well as his review of Gary D. Engle's book This Grotesque Essence for Southern Exposure (Winter 1978). Also included is Remembering Owen Dodson (1984), a memorial monograph which includes a remembrance by Barbour. Also included are miscellaneous clippings, along with other items.
Professional material includes notes, letter files, and a press report. Notes regard the Afro-American studies department at Simmons College and Barbour’s “Presentation of Qualifications.” Letter files include professional correspondence with Simmons College as well as letters of recommendation for students.
Legal material includes a contract for The Bone Orchard and a copyright release form.