Series GR-2809 - Research notes of Wilson Duff

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Research notes of Wilson Duff

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  • textual record
  • microform

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  • Variations in title: Title based on contents of the records.

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  • [ca. 1950-1978] (primarily 1950-1965) (Creation)
    British Columbia Provincial Museum

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6 microfilm reels : positive ; 35 mm [B06043-B06048]

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Biographical history

The museum was established in Victoria on October 25, 1886, as “Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.”

In 1967 a new Museum Act (15 16 Eliz. 2, c.41) was introduced. Under the new act, the museum's objectives were "to secure and preserve specimens and other objects which illustrate the natural history and human history of the Province" and "to increase and diffuse knowledge in these fields by research, exhibits, publications, and other means." The new act was introduced at a time when the museum was moving to new quarters from the east wing of the Parliament Buildings and it broadened the museum's mandate. Specifically, it allowed the museum to devote itself not only to ethnology and natural history, but also to the modern social and industrial history of the province.

The name was changed again on October 13, 1987, to “Royal British Columbia Museum.”

Custodial history

When Wilson Duff left the Provincial Museum in 1965, he took his records with him. After his death, the Provincial Museum Curator of Archaeology, Donald Abbott, went to UBC and selected those records created by Duff while in the Museum’s employ. They were housed in the Archaeology Division until February 1983 when they were transferred to the Museum's Ethnology Division and placed in two filing cabinets. The files were then classified by the ethnolinguistic system developed by the Museum. Records of two ethnology curators, Peter Macnair and Alan Hoover, as well as some pre-Duff ethnological records were interfiled with the Duff material. The papers were subsequently transferred to the Museum Library and Records Services at which point they were microfilmed by the BC Archives and Records Service. The originals were retained by the Museum and were eventually rehoused, described and given an accession number, M-2. When the Library, and subsequently, Records Services, were closed the records were returned to the Anthropology department. See note in Scope and Content on the differences between the original records and the microfilm.

Scope and content

Referred to as the Wilson Duff Papers, these records are microfilm copies of primarily the original research and field notes of Wilson Duff who was curator of Anthropology at the British Columbia Provincial Museum from 1950 to 1965 and deal with the ethnology of aboriginal peoples in British Columbia. Some field notes of other museum anthropologists are also included. The original papers consist of approximately 1.5 meters of textual records. The majority of them were microfilmed in order to make the contents available to clients of the then British Columbia Archives and Records Service. The Royal British Columbia Museum retained the original papers including some maps, typescripts and oversize material that were not microfilmed.

Wilson Duff received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Masters Degree in anthropology from the University of Washington (Seattle) in 1951. From 1950 to 1965 he served as Curator of Anthropology for the British Columbia Provincial Museum (now the Royal British Columbia Museum). He also directed the British Columbia Government Anthropology Program from 1960 to 1965. From 1965 until his death in 1976 he was a Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. During his term as Curator of Anthropology with the Museum, Wilson Duff conducted the research work documented in these papers. The papers are a diverse collection of material, consisting of field notes, maps, official and unofficial records, and copies of published and unpublished works. Records of later museum anthropologists also form a part of this collection. The Wilson Duff Papers document many aspects of Indigenous history and culture, and include important linguistic information. They also document the activities of Wilson Duff and other staff of the Provincial Museum.

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The original records and the microfilmed records overlap but the former are no longer in the order that they were in when they were filmed, and records appear to have been added - as well as removed -since the filming. The sequential file numbers on the microfilm apply only to the microfilm. GR-3662 Series E - Ethnology field notes was created by a staff member in the Anthropology Department after microfilming. This series identifies material from the original field notes that is considered private or sacred by the communities documented, and therefore is restricted for cultural reasons.

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Finding aids

Included with the Reference Room copy of the finding aid is a list and descriptions of the Wilson Duff Papers prepared in 1979 by researchers Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy, who consented to making their work available. Bouchard and Kennedy prepared this list and description when the records were stored in the Archaeology Division of the Museum. While this listing provides item level description of file contents, the files do not correspond directly to the file list on the reels. It should be used as a guide to the contents of various files and in conjunction with the reel file lists to locate material of interest.

Associated materials

For the originals and other related material, see GR-3662 Department of Anthropology records.

For related records, see the Wilson Duff fonds at the Audrey and Harry Hawthorn Library and Archives at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC. While at UBC, Duff continued his research on the aboriginal cultures of British Columbia and accumulated a large body of papers. Included in these papers is material from his time at the BC Provincial Museum which apparently was missed in the selection process or was discovered afterwards. (See custodial history)

Tapes referenced in this finding aid are available through the Anthropology Department of the Royal BC Museum. Permission may be required from people recorded on the tapes, or their designates, prior to consultation by researchers.

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General note

Accession number(s): 91-5449

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