David P. McAllester

David Park McAllester (6 August 1916 – 30 April 2006) was an American ethnomusicologist and Professor of Anthropology and Music at Wesleyan University, where he taught from 1947–1986. He contributed to the development of the field of ethnomusicology through his studies of Navajo and Comanche musics, and he helped to establish the ethnomusicology department and the World Music Program at Wesleyan. His recordings of Navajo and Comanche music led to the establishment of the World Music Archives at the University.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

David P. McAllester
Born6 August 1916
Died30 April 2006
EducationHarvard University
Columbia University
Known forStudy of Native American musics, music and anthropology.


He was born on 6 August 1916 in Everett, Massachusetts.

He graduated from Harvard College in 1938 and entered the Juilliard School. However, he was doing anthropological field work during the summers at the same time and in 1940 decided not to pursue a career in music, instead enrolling in a Ph.D. program in anthropology at Columbia University.

While in Manhattan, New York City, he joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and remained a member for his entire life.

In the Second World War, as a conscientious objector, he applied for and received exemption from military draft, and worked with the Civilian Public Service.

After the war, he returned to Columbia. He accepted a teaching position at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1947, while still working on his degree. He was awarded the Ph.D. in 1950.

Along with Alan Merriam, Willard Rhodes, and Charles Seeger, he founded the Society for Ethnomusicology in 1955.

He specialized in Native American music, and did field work on the Navajo reservation for many years in the summer.

He partially retired in 1979 and retired fully in 1986 to a home in the Berkshires. He died on 30 April 2006 in Monterey, Massachusetts.[7]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Four volumes, edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, London: Macmillan Press (1986)
  2. ^ The Native North American Almanac — A reference work on Native North Americans in the United States and Canada, Second edition, edited by Duane Champagne, Detroit: Gale Group (2001) — The Prominent Native North Americans section begins on page 1171
  3. ^ Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian, 11th edition, by Barry T. Klein (entries begin on page 529), Nyack, New York: Todd Publications (2005)
  4. ^ American Men & Women of Science. A biographical directory of today's leaders in physical, biological, and related sciences, New York: R.R. Bowker
       12th edition, Two volumes (1973)
       13th edition, Seven volumes (1976)
  5. ^ Baker's Biographical Dictionaries
       Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth edition, revised by Nicolas Slonimsky, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. (1992)
       Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Classical Musicians, by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Schirmer Books (1997)
       Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Ninth edition, edited by Laura Diane Kuhn (born 1953), New York: Schirmer Books (2001)
  6. ^ Fifth International Directory of Anthropologists, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1975)
  7. ^ Who's Who in America, Marquis Who's Who
       38th edition, 1974–1975 (1974)
       39th edition, 1976-1977 (1976)
       40th edition, 1978-1979 (1978)