Papers of Rev. Dr Harry Parkin

Scope and Content

The papers of the Reverend Dr Harry Parkin comprise his research material and finished work on the Toba Batak religion and his research and teaching work into comparative religions. During the course of his work he collected valuable Batak bark books and these are now held as part of the artificial collection of South East Asian manuscripts at U DSE or are in the Centre for South-East Asian Studies.

Dr Parkin's papers in more detail are as follows: doctoral thesis on Batak religion (1975); an unpublished monograph on Batak proverbs (circa 1980s); articles and papers on Batak books and literature (1970s and 1980s); papers and studies on Indian religions (1970s and 1980s); teaching materials on world religions (1970s and 1980s); a paper on personal theology (1984); two papers and related material on Asian theology (1983); notes for courses of religious studies (1979-1985); pamphlets and offprints of articles by other people (1827-1923); papers on a variety of topics in Asian studies by other authors (1967-1985).

This collection includes items in English and Toba Batak

Administrative / Biographical History

Harry Parkin was born in 1926 and trained for the Methodist ministry at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester before becoming a missionary. He was ordained in the Church of South India in 1952 before returning to England with his wife Mary in 1956 and preaching on the Essex Methodist church circuit until 1968. In that year he was appointed to the Batak university (Nommensen University) in Pematang Siantar in Northern Sumatra. He lectured there in comparative religion and continued his work at the same time with the Methodist Missionary Society. He took the opportunity to study Batak religion in more depth and in 1975 submitted, to Serampore College, his doctoral thesis, 'The extent and areas of Indian/Hindu influence on the ideas and development of the Toba Batak religion, and its implications for the Christianisation of the Toba Batak people of North Sumatra'. The edited version appeared in 1978 as Batak fruit of Hindu thought, an important source of description of Batak religion including divination, astrology and the cosmic tree of the Batak. During this period he also worked on the unpublished monograph on Batak proverbs which is to be found at U DPN/2.

In 1979 Dr Parkin was appointed as Director of Religious Studies at Trinity Theological College in Singapore where he taught courses on the world's religions and on comparative religion. In 1985 he returned to England and spent the last five years of his life as Methodist preacher on the Beverley circuit in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He continued to collect work on Asian religions and was heavily involved in ecumenical activities. He died on 8 April 1990 aged 64.


U DPN/1-3 Writings on the Toba Batak, 1970s

U DPN/4-16 Studies of Indian religions, 1980s

U DPN/17-24 Courses on world religions, late 20th century

U DPN/25-44 Miscellaneous publications, 1827 - 1985

U DPN/45-54 Miscellaneous items, 1975- 2002

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in South East Asian studies subject guide

Custodial History

Donated by Mrs Parkin in 1991 [U DPN1/44] and in 2011 [U DPN/45-54]

Related Material

Four Batak bark books [U DSE/43-46] were purchased from the estate of Dr Parkin and are contained amongst the artifical collection of South East Asian manuscripts [U DSE]

Papers of Professor Mervyn A Jaspan [U DJA]

Papers of Dr. David Kenneth [U DBA]

Papers of Frederick William Dalley [U DDA]

Papers of Dr. Geoffrey Marrison [U DGM]


Marrison, Geoffrey, A catalogue of the collections of the Rev. Dr Harry Parkin on Asian religions and Batak studies in the Brynmor Jones Library (1993)