Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dr. Douglas L. Oliver: 1913-2009

We regret to note the passing of Douglas L. Oliver, who died peacefully in his sleep on October 30, 2009. Born in Rushton, Louisiana in 1913, Dr. Oliver held an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Harvard and a D.Phil. from the University of Vienna. While his early fieldwork focused on Bougainville, he would over the course of his career write widely about the Pacific. His publications include Studies in the Anthropology of Bougainville, Solomon Islands (1949); Planning Micronesia's Future (1951); The Pacific Islands (first published in 1951, and subsequently published in several revised editions, most recently in 1989); A Solomon Island Society: Kinship and Leadership Among the Siuai of Bougainville (1955); Ancient Tahitian Society (1974); Two Tahitian Villages (1981); Return to Tahiti: Bligh's Second Breadfruit Voyage (1988); Oceania: The Native Cultures of Australia and the Pacific (1989); Black Islanders: A Personal Perspective on Bougainville 1937-1991 (1991); Polynesia in Early Historic Times (2002) and a host of others. Included among his legion of students was Dr. Greg Dening, who did his Ph.D. work with Dr. Oliver.

Dr. Oliver was also a staunch supporter of the Library's Pacific Collection, and in honor of his life and work, the Hawaiian & Pacific Collections reading room is currently hosting a memorial display, which includes among other items two of several Melanesian masks previously donated by Dr. Oliver. Information for this posting was culled from a biographical sketch previously composed by Dr. Oliver's longtime colleague and friend, Gene Ogan. To read that essay, click here. At the time of his passing, Dr. Oliver was 96 years old.

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