01 May 2011

Personal Library of W. H. McLeod to University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside, has acquired the personal library of leading (and sometimes controversial) Western scholar on Sikh studies W. H. McLeod (1932-2009). Professor McLeod, who was born near Fielding on the North Island of New Zealand and received his BA and MA in History from the University of Otago and his PhD and DLitt from London University, was one of the founders of modern Sikh studies and pioneered the introduction of scholarly and historically based assessments of the Sikhs, their religion and their society.

The collection numbers some 1,800 volumes on Sikh history and religion. According to the UCR Libraries News and Events (issue 852) a seminar was held last month on 4 and 5 March to mark the then impending arrival of the books and to officially dedicate the W. H. McLeod Collection of Sikh Studies.

After spending time in India, first as a missionary and later as a teacher, and then in England on fellowships at Cambridge and Sussex universities, McLeod returned to Dunedin and spent twenty-six years researching and teaching Sikh culture in the Department of History, University of Otago. Upon his retirement in 1997 he was made an Emeritus Professor of the University. McLeod was elected and admitted as a Fellow of Knox College, Dunedin, in 1996 and appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1999. Professor McLeod was writing and publishing almost to the end of his long career and remained a heavily involved and much respected member of the Otago academic community.

UCR, which holds the Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Endowed Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies, is a most fitting home for Professor McLeod's collection, and the transfer of such a remarkable and highly focused library is an important event for Sikh studies. With no small degree of luck, the fifty-four boxes of books departed from Lyttelton, near Christchurch, just three days before the 22 February earthquake.

Thanks are due to Keith Maslen for alerting me to the news about this acquisition.

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