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Charles E. Barnes Collection

Identifier: 2021.9

Scope and Contents

The Charles E. Barnes Collection contains personal papers, certificates, photographic reproductions, and a fireman’s helmet belonging to Charles E. Barnes of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


  • Creation: 1979 - 2007

Conditions Governing Access

The Charles E. Barnes Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Edward Barnes, Sr. was born on September 4, 1952 to parents Willie Mack and Lula Barnes in Leary, Georgia. Shortly after his birth, the family of seven moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Charles E. Barnes attended Dillard Elementary, Everglades Junior High, and Dillard High schools. He married Carrie Roper on June 19, 1971 and they have four children. In February 1972, Charles served as a paratrooper in the United States Army 101st Airborne Division. In June 1975, Charles returned to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to work as a water meter reader for the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Charles entered the firefighter training academy and he was the only black student in the class. On January 8, 1979, Charles became a certified firefighter and worked in the Fire Prevention Bureau. He was the first black certified Fire Inspector. Charles later became the first black arson investigator. He was certified by the Broward County Courts as an expert witness in a GE fire case in October 1985. Charles E. Barnes and fellow firefighter Rodney Coleman were recognized as the first black “Firefighter of the Year” in 1985. Charles advanced in his career to Lieutenant on April 5, 1987. He was the first black fire Lieutenant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In addition to his firefighter career, Charles E. Barnes coached little league sports such as football, baseball, and basketball for 18 years in Broward County, Florida. He served as Football Commissioner for five years in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. Charles also helped develop a program called JASP (Juvenile Alternative Service Program) which provides juvenile delinquents the option to complete community service as an alternative to incarceration. On January 5, 2001, Lieutenant Charles E. Barnes retired.


1.5 Hollinger Boxes

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into three series: Series I. Personal Papers, Series II. Certificates, and Series III. Objects.

Processing Information

This collection received file level processing. This finding aid may be updated to reflect new descriptions as well as acquisitions to the collection.

Charles E. Barnes Collection
Emily Calderon
July 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script

Repository Details

Part of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center Repository

2650 Sistrunk Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale Florida 33311 United States