Professor Norman Gerald Barrier (fwd)
conlon at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Mon Jun 7 15:20:39 EDT 2010
I share this sad news with you all--as just reported to H-ASIA.
June 7, 2010
Professor Norman Gerald Barrier
From: Frank F. Conlon
It is with a very sad heart that I report the death of Professor Norman Gerald
Barrier on June 6, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri, after an eight-
month battle with brain cancer. I just received this news from Jerry's
collegue Paul Wallace. Paul is travelling at the moment, and it may be some
days before we can post a formal obituary. In the interim, I would like to
share just a few thoughts on the loss of this good and great friend, who has
contributed so much to our field.
Jerry Barrier was a giant in the field of South Asian studies, especially in
history and especially the history of the Sikhs and the Punjab. His many
publications helped to define that field, and his command of its bibliography
led to broadening our awareness of its many issues. Jerry further advanced
South Asian studies in North America through his active promotion of books and
bibliography when he launched South Asia Books--
the premier specialist source of books from the subcontinent for many years.
Jerry's presence at academic conference book exhibits was a source of
stimulating information--he loved books, he knew books, and his goal was to
place the right books in the hands of those who would use them.
Jerry was born into a deeply religious family and was, at one time, considered
to be on the path to a ministry. In time he decided that he did not wish to
follow that road and turned instead to the study of history. At Duke he worked
under that pioneer of four programs (Michigan, Chicago, Duke, Syracuse) in
Indian history, the late Robert Crane. Crane suggested students look at the
legislative councils of varous Indian provinces constituted in 1892. In point
of fact, most of the students moved out, as Crane probably anticipated, from
the ground of provincial politics into a far wider range of interests. Jerry
moved through provincial politics and land control legislation in the Punjab
into a much broader interest in the Sikh community, its politics, culture and
traditions. His PhD dissertation (1966) was "Punjab politics and the
disturbances of 1907".
Barrier was first appointed to the history faculty of Northern Illinois
University in DeKalb, but then joined the faculty of the University of Missouri
at Columbia, where he remained until his retirement. He was known as an
enthusiastic, sometimes unconventional, teacher at both undergraduate and
Along his scholarly path he developed a commanding knowledge of specialized
bibliography and archival resources. With all the enthusiasm that had informed
his more youthful engagement with religious ministry, he threw his efforts into
scholarship and bibliography. The rest, as they say, is history. And what a
history, I am not sure how many books Jerry wrote or edited, nor how many
articles and essays he published. A later formal obituary may address that
quantitative question. However, from the
qualitative viewpoint, Jerry Barrier's imagination and energies were
unparalleled. That he could pursue his own research trajectory while also
founding and building South Asia Books, provides a hint of his capacity for
activity. Here, in point of fact, I can share that Jerry had an unusually high
metabolism. I recall once when he visited me in Minneapolis in the winter of
1968. He was to sleep on a couch in my apartment where, since it was -20
degrees farenheit outside, it was about 52 degrees inside, he declined the two
blankets and quilt I had borrowed for his use, and slept peacefully under a
single sheet. In short, he was in his very being, a sort of human dynamo, able
to strive toward complete perfection in all that he attempted.
The entry of N. Gerald Barrier in most catalogues of major libraries will bring
forth come evidence of Jerry's prolific career. His chosen pattern of
publication largely focussed upon essays and articles along with
ground-breaking foundational publications on bibliography. He also did yeoman
service as an active editor of collections of essays from a wide variety of
conferences, seminars and panels on many aspects of South Asian history, and
most especially on Sikh Studies. I have assembled a brief list of books Jerry
wrote and/or edited at the end of this post, but I do not warrent it to be
complete, and I do not yet have access to a complete list of his innumerable
essays and articles. Jerry also plowed new furrows by exploring previously
much ignored sources such as the various tracts collections in the India Office
Library and he identified and brought to light the various publications in
British India which had been banned by the colonial authorities. The
significant aspect of his work was that while he developed his own research
agenda, virtually every thing he did, he could--and did--share with others.
Jerry was recognized by the University of Missouri for his outstanding
contributions as Middlebush Chair in the Social Sciences; he was awarded
numerous grants and fellowships and was recipient of an Indian award for his
promotion of the Indian book trade and knowledge of Indian culture. In December
2008, Jerry was invited to give the keynote address to a conference "Sikhism in
a Global Context" at Riverside, CA, where he was
presented with a 'Lifetime Achievement Award' in commemoration and appreciation
of his significant scholarly contributions in the area of Sikh Studies.
On another front, Jerry's work with books was furthered by his activiteis in
conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies's Committee on South Asia
Libraries and Documentation and his long-term chairmanship of the American
Institute of Indian Studies's Publication Committee. He was among the moving
forces of the Punjab Studies Committee which generated conferences and
publications in North America.
It may sound like a cliche, but I doubt that we will soon see another friend
and scholar like Jerry Barrier--he was truly one of a kind. Once, during one
of our periodic conference meals together, I told him that if it must have been
pre-ordained that he would follow his chosen path. I told him that he struck me
as holding within himself the stature, energy and honor of the Sikhs he loved
and studied, but with certain bania tendencies. Sardar or bania, or both--for
me, and many others, Jerry was, ultimately, a very good friend. We have now
lost that good friend, and will have only to keep his memory in our hearts.
Frank F. Conlon
Professor Emeritus of History, South Asian
Studies & Comparative Religion
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3560 USA
Managing Director, Bibliography of Asian Studies Online
A sampling of Barrier bibliography:
Aspects of India : essays in honor of Edward Cameron
Dimock, Jr. / edited by Margaret Case and N. Gerald Barrier.
New Delhi : Manohar Publications for American Institute of Indian Studies,
British imperial policy in India and Sri Lanka, 1858-1912:
a reassessment / editors, Robert I. Crane and N. Gerald Barrier.
New Delhi : Heritage Publishers, 
The Census in British India : new perspectives / edited
with an introduction by N. Gerald Barrier.
New Delhi : Manohar, 1981.
Punjab past and present : essays in honour of Dr. Ganda Singh
edited by Harbans Singh, N. Gerald Barrier.
Patiala : Punjabi University, 1976.
The Sikh diaspora : migration and the experience beyond Punjab
edited by N. Gerald Barrier, Verne A. Dusenbery.
Delhi : Chanakya Publications, 1989.
Sikh identity : continuity and change
edited by Pashaura Singh, N. Gerald Barrier.
New Delhi : Manohar, 1999.
Sikh studies : comparative perspectives on a changing tradition : working
papers from the Berkeley conference on Sikh studies
edited by Mark Juergensmeyer and N. Gerald Barrier.
Berkeley : Graduate Theological Union, 1979.
Sikhism and history [festchrift for Professor W.H. McLeod]
edited by Pashaura Singh, N. Gerald Barrier.
New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2004.
The transmission of Sikh heritage in the diaspora edited by Pashaura Singh, N.
New Delhi : Manohar Publishers & Distributors, 1996.
Banned; controversial literature and political control in British India,
N. Gerald Barrier.
Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press 
Hindi, Urdu, and Panjabi tracts on nineteenth-century Punjab : an introduction
to the pamphlet collections in the British Museum and India Office Library
N. Gerald Barrier.
Typescript (at LOC) also available at Center for Research Libraries
India and America : American publishing on India, 1930-1985
N. Gerald Barrier
New Delhi : Manohar : American Institute of Indian Studies, 1986.
The Punjab Alienation of Land Bill of 1900
Durham : Duke University, Program in Comparative Studies
on Southern Asia, c1966.
Punjab history in printed British documents; a bibliographic guide to
Parliamentary papers and select nonserial publications, 1843-1947
Barrier, N. Gerald (Norman Gerald)
Columbia, University of Missouri Press 
The Punjab in nineteenth century tracts : an introduction to the pamphlet
collections in the British Museum and India Office
N. Gerald Barrier.
East Lansing, Mich. : Research Committee on the Punjab, 1969.
The Punjab press, 1880-1905
N. Gerald Barrier and Paul Wallace.
East Lansing, Mich: Research Committee on the Punjab, 1970.
The Sikhs and their literature : a guide to tracts, books, and
N. Gerald Barrier ;
Delhi : Manohar Book Service ; Columbia, Mo. South Asia Books, 1970.
Roots of communal politics / edited, with historical introduction by
N. Gerald Barrier. [Indian National Congress. Cawnpore Riots Enquiry
New Delhi : Arnold-Heinemann Publishers (India), 1976.
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