JACOBS, Melville

Author Tags: Anthropology, First Nations

The three key figures in the early development of the Anthropology Department at University of Washington in the late 1920s were Melville Jacobs, Leslie Spier and Erna Gunther. All three were students of Franz Boas. A cultural anthropologist at the University of Washington from 1928 to 1971, Jacobs had a long influence on Pacific Northwest research as a 'Boasian' scholar mainly interested in the Aboriginal languages and literature of Oregon and Washington. In May of 1930 he collected stories from Thomas Paul of Saanich, told in Chinook, and these comprised 27 pages within Texts in Chinook Jargon (1936). In 1941, Jacobs published a survey of Pacific Northwest anthropological research of the 1930s. His work appeared in various scholarly publications, plus he published The Content and Style of an Oral Literature: Clackamas Chinook Myths and Tales (1959). In his book Threatening Anthropology, David H. Price reveals how McCarthyism in the 1950s affected the lives of Melville Jacobs and Margaret Mead, two of the many anthropologists in the United States who were harassed and followed by the FBI in response to their activism regarding racial equality. Born on July 3, 1902 in New York, Jacobs died in Seattle on July 31, 1971.


Jacobs, Meville. Texts in Chinook Jargon (University of Washington Publications in Anthropology, Vol. 7 No. 1, 1936).

Jacobs, Melville. The Content and Style of an Oral Literature: Clackamas Chinook Myths and Tales (New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation to Anthropological Research, Inc., Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology, 1959).

[BCBW 2005] "First Nations" "Chinook" "Anthropology"