James Harwood Barnett was born in Owensboro, KY, on 9 October 1906. Barnett was employed by the University of Connecticut in 1935 as an instructor in Sociology. He specialized in the history of social thought and the sociology of art and literature. He attained full professorship in 1948 and was head of the Sociology Department from 1948 until 1962. Barnett directed the Honor's Program from 1967 until his retirement in 1970. A prolific author, Barnett has over thirty publications, including The American Christmas, a study in national culture published in 1954 and numerous biographies of campus notables.