Gunther Barth

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Gunther Barth
Born 1925
Düsseldorf, Germany
Died January 7, 2004
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Cologne
University of Oregon
Harvard University
Occupation Historian

Gunther Paul Barth (1925 in Düsseldorf – January 7, 2004 in Berkeley) was an American historian. Barth joined the University of California, Berkeley faculty in 1962, and taught Western American and urban history until his retirement in 1995. During his career he had reached the position of Professor of History.

Early life[edit]

Gunther Barth was born in 1925 in Düsseldorf, Germany. He attended local schools in Düsseldorf until he was 16 years of age, after which World War II was well under way, and he was drafted into the military. He fought on several fronts, was wounded twice, and captured by British forces.

After the war, and out of the army, he worked as a journalist in Düsseldorf until 1951. During two of those years he studied literature and art history at the University of Cologne; he also won a year-long fellowship, awarded by the U.S. State Department, which enabled him to study at the University of Oregon. After another year in Cologne, he returned to the United States, worked in New York City in construction and, for a short time, as a nightclub bouncer. By 1957, armed with an A.B. and an M.A. from the University of Oregon, he felt ready for doctoral work in history and entered Harvard University. Studying for five years, Barth was awarded a Ph.D. for his work in 1962.


Barth not only won acclaim for his books but he also became famous as an academic teacher who impressed his students with his stupendous memory and his dry humor. Twice he was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Cologne and once at the University of Hamburg in Germany.


Barth died on January 7, 2004 in Berkeley, California.


  • Bitter Strength: A History of the Chinese in the United States, 1964
  • Instant Cities, 1975
  • City People, 1980
  • Fleeting Moments, 1990

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