Professor Brought Attention to Canadian Studies

Photo: Thomas Barnes
Thomas Barnes


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UC Berkeley history and law professor emeritus Thomas Garden Barnes, who was known as an erudite academe of English, French, American and Canadian law and history, died Tuesday. He was 80.

Born April 29, 1930, Barnes graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in 1952, and went on to receive his doctorate in history at Oxford University three years later.

Barnes began teaching history and law at UC Berkeley in 1960 and retired in 2005 after 45 years of service. He was named a professor of history and law emeritus in January 2006, and is considered one of the leading historians of legal history in the 17th century, according to Roger Hahn, a campus history professor emeritus and long-time colleague of Barnes.

Family members of Barnes could not be reached for comment by press time.

Sheldon Rothblatt, a professor emeritus of history and long-time colleague, said Barnes was devoted to the campus and students.

"He was a terrific lecturer and teacher," Rothblatt said. "He was affectionate, humorous and a greatly learned man. (He) was greatly knowledgeable about many aspects of history."

In 1982, Barnes co-founded the campus Canadian Studies Program, serving as co-director of the program from 2006 until his death.

"He was the founder of two programs, one of which was his pride and joy, the Canadian Studies Program," said Harry Kreisler, executive director at the campus Institute of International Studies.

Due to his support and dedication to the program, the Thomas Garden Barnes Endowed Chair was created in his honor in 2005.

"He was one of the major figures on campus that brought attention to Canadian history," Rothblatt said. "He's one of the very few people I know who has actually had a chair named after him in his lifetime."

In addition to being a professor and co-founder of the Canadian Studies Program, Barnes was also the assistant dean of students during the Free Speech Movement in 1964.

Hahn said Barnes was a very opinionated man.

"You would call him on the right side of the political spectrum," he said. "He disagreed with many colleagues, but we had a lot of respect for each other's views."

Rothblatt said Barnes' robust and energetic personality made him larger than life, and he will be dearly missed.

"(He was) loyal to his friends and to his students," he said. "(He was) really a great servant of this university, which he loved. He loved this place."

Hahn said Barnes' presence in the history department and university is what he will remember about him the most.

"I will personally miss him a great deal," Hahn said.

Tags: DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY


Contact Kim Bielak and Kelly Strickland at [email protected]



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