Search - List of Books by Marius Barbeau
Charles Marius Barbeau, CC, FRSC (March 5, 1883 – February 27, 1969), also known as C. Marius Barbeau, or more commonly simply Marius Barbeau, was a Canadian ethnographer and folklorist who is today considered a founder of Canadian anthropology. He is best known for an early championing of Québécois folk culture, for his exhaustive cataloguing of the social organization, narrative and musical traditions, and plastic arts of the Tsimshianic-speaking peoples in British Columbia (Tsimshian, Gitxsan, and Nisga'a), and other Northwest Coast peoples, and for his unconventional theories of the peopling of the Americas.
Total Books: 18
Frédéric Charles Joseph Marius Barbeau was born March 5, 1883, in Sainte-Marie, Quebec. In 1897, he began studies for the priesthood at the Collège commercial, Frères des Écoles chrétiennes, switched in 1903 to pursuit of a law degree at Université Laval, which he received in 1907, and studied on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University from 1907 to 1910, where he switched to a career in anthropology, studying under R. R. Marett.
In 1911, he joined the National Museum of Canada (then part of the Geological Survey of Canada) as an anthropologist, where he remained until his retirement in 1949. (The GSC subdivided in 1920, so that from that point on Barbeau was with the Victoria Memorial Museum, later renamed, in 1927, the National Museum of Canada.) At the beginning, he and Edward Sapir were Canada's first and only two full-time anthropologists. Under those auspices, Barbeau began fieldwork in 1911-1912 with the Huron-Wyandot people around Quebec City, in southern Ontario, and in Oklahoma, mostly collecting stories and songs.
In 1913, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, then of the American Folklore Society (AFS), convinced Barbeau to specialize in French Canadian folklore, and Barbeau began collecting such material the following year. In 1918, Barbeau became president of the AFS. Barbeau's fieldwork and writings on all aspects of French Canadian creative expression led to numerous popular and scholarly publications and are credited with contributing significantly to the rise of Québécois nationalism in the late 20th century.
In 1914, Barbeau married Marie Larocque. Beginning in December of that same year, Barbeau carried out three months' fieldwork in Lax Kw'alaams (a.k.a. Port Simpson), British Columbia, the largest Tsimshian village in Canada, in collaboration with his interpreter, William Beynon, a Tsimshian hereditary chief. The anthropologist Wilson Duff (who in the late 1950s was entrusted by Barbeau with organizing the information) has called these three months "one of the most productive field seasons in the history of [North] American anthropology," and it led to a decades-long collaboration between Barbeau and Beynon and an enormous volume of fieldnotes, still mostly unpublished -- which Duff has characterized as "the most complete body of information on the social organization of any Indian nation." Barbeau eventually trained Beynon in phonetic transcription, and he became an ethnological fieldworker in his own right. Barbeau and Beynon followed this up with 1923-1924 fieldwork on the middle Skeena River with the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum Tsimshians and the Gitksan, and 1927 and 1929 field seasons among the Nisga'a of the Nass River.
In 1922, Barbeau became the founding Secretary of the Canadian Historical Association.
In 1942, he began lecturing at Laval and at the University of Ottawa. In 1945, he was made a Professor at Laval. He retired in 1954 after suffering a stroke.
Barbeau also did brief fieldwork with the Tlingit, Haida, Tahltan, Kwakwaka'wakw, and other Northwest Coast groups, though always remaining focused on the Tsimshian, Gitksan, and Nisga'a. Mostly he became more and more concerned in synthesizing the various migration traditions of these peoples and correlating them with the distribution of culture traits to try to reconstruct a sequence for the peopling of the Americas. Although he was an early champion of the theory of migration from Siberia across the Bering Strait, for which he has since been vindicated by science, far more controversial was his contention that the Tsimshianic-speaking peoples and Haida and Tlingit represented the most recent migration into the New World from Siberia, that in fact these peoples' ancestors were refugees from Genghis Khan's conquests, some as recently as a few centuries ago. In works such as the unpublished "Migration Series" manuscripts, the book Alaska Beckons, and numerous articles with titles like "How Asia Used to Drip at the Spout into America" and "Buddhist Dirges on the North Pacific Coast," he eventually antagonized many of his contemporaries on this question and his position is now quite discredited, though he did, under Beynon's influence, pioneer the now somewhat respectable view that the region's oral histories of migration have real historiographic value.
Likewise, though he was an early proponent of recognizing totem poles as world-class high art, his view that they are a post-contact artistic development has also been decisively disproven.
He was a prolific writer, producing both scholarly articles and monographs and books which presented Québécois and First Nations oral traditions for a more mass audience. Examples include The Downfall of Temlaham -- which weaves ancient Gitksan oral traditions with contemporary contact history -- and The Golden Phoenix and other collections for children of French Canadian folk and fairy tales.
In 1950 he won the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal. In 1967 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
He died February 27, 1969, in Ottawa.
His extensive personal papers are housed in the National Museum of Man, which was renamed in 1986 the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
In 1969, Barbeau Peak, the highest mountain in Nunavut, was named after him.
In 2005, Marius Barbeau's broadcasts and ethnological recordings were honoured as a MasterWork by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada.