Color image of Barbara Beirne in a South American outdoor market


Barbara Beirne (1933-2021) was a photographer who focused on projects documenting social justice issues. Ms. Beirne's photographs have been widely exhibited in museums and galleries. Two nation-wide tours of her work were sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) — “Women of Southern Appalachia” and “Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration”. These exhibitions include portraits of her subjects with poignant interviews about their life experiences. Ms. Beirne had a particular affinity and talent for photographing children. She photographed extensively in Belfast, Northern Ireland during “The Troubles”. Other projects include photographs of children living in a family homeless shelter, portraits of Kosovar refugees, documentation of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, and Sunday services in Morristown, NJ. She also worked extensively in India, Nepal, Mexico, Iceland and Ecuador.

Her work is included in the permanent collections of museums and libraries including The Archives Center at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; The Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ; Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA; Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, NJ; Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ, The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Cambridge, MA; and Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Her photographs are also in many private collections.

Ms. Beirne earned a Master of Fine Arts in photography from Pratt Institute and a Bachelor of Political Science from Marymount College. She taught photography at County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey and is the author and photographer of Fire over Belfast and five children's books.