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Stephen Northrup Hay

Professor of History, Emeritus

Santa Barbara



Stephen had an extraordinarily wide-ranging mind. Primarily a scholar of South Asia, he combined his deep interests in history, science, psychology, archeology, natural science, philosophy, and religion to produce a number of books and many articles in the field. Among his books are Sources of the Indian Tradition, Southeast Asian History: A Bibliographic Guide: Dialogue Between a Theist and an Idolater (Brahma-puttalik sanavad), and Asian Ideas of East and West: Tagore and His Critics in Japan, China, and India. At his death, he had completed one book on science, religion, and prayer and another on the youth of the man he most admired, Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi.


Stephen's interests ranged far beyond his specialty; he had a superb grasp of European and American cultural history as well and spoke German fluently. Always original, always unconventional, he created a logical, mathematical set of musical notation. His originality was nurtured at Deep Springs College, a small, isolated liberal arts college, and then at Haverford. From 1944 to 1946 he served in the U.S. Army, and afterwards he traveled extensively in Europe, the Middle East, and India. Always determined to meet and converse with great thinkers, Stephen had dialogues with Carl Jung, Martin Buber, and Sri Aurobindo; sadly for Stephen, and of course for the entire world, Mahatma Gandhi died before Stephen could meet him.


Stephen took his B.A. from Swarthmore and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard; he taught at the University of Chicago and Harvard before coming to UCSB in 1966; he retired in 1990. He was a Fellow of the Asia Society and a Fulbright Fellow; he won the Watmull prize and the Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature. Stephen and his wife Eloise, Professor of English, were known for their deep conversations on matters of philosophy and religion, and Stephen, a man of eclectic faith, endowed the study of Islam in the History Department and the study of prayer in the Religious Studies Department. The History Department has created a Stephen Hay Fellowship for graduate students. No one could know Stephen without deeply profiting from his deep spirituality and his original thought.


Jeffrey B. Russell