Fonds 6 - Michael M. Ames fonds (private records)

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Michael M. Ames fonds (private records)

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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  • 1959-1984, predominant 1982-1984 (Creation)
    Michael M. Ames

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Physical description

12.4 cm of textual records and graphic material
1248 photographs : col. slides ; 35 mm
ca. 1420 photographs : b&w negatives
6 photographs : col. print

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Name of creator

(1933 - 2006)

Biographical history

Michael McLean Ames was born in Vancouver in 1933. He graduated from UBC with a B.A. in Anthropology in 1956, and from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology in 1961. Ames also studied at the University of Michigan, University of London, and the University of Chicago between 1957 and 1962. He taught at McMaster University from 1962 to 1964, and in 1964 he began working at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as an assistant professor, followed by an associate professorship in 1966 and full professorship in 1970. In 1974 he became Director of the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA). From 1974 to 1976 Ames was president of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute which was established in 1968 with funding from the Indian Government to promote Indian studies in Canada. Ames retired from MOA in 1997, and received professor emeritus status in 1998. He remained involved with the Anthropology department at UBC, co-teaching undergraduate courses such as Humanities 101 on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, chairing the Dean of Arts First Nations Language Programme advisory committee, and helping to institute the Musqueam 101 seminar at Musqueam. In July 2002, Ames returned to MOA as Acting Director until 2004. Michael Ames passed away in February, 2006.

Ames received the Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1979, and a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology in 1996. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1998. Ames also received the UBC Alumni Award of Distinction in 2005.

Ames published an extensive number of articles and books on a range of subjects including South Asian anthropology, First Nations issues, and museology.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists mainly of slides, negatives, and other material relating to Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) and other South Asian masks held at numerous repositories worldwide, studied by Ames in the late 1950s and early 1980s. Subjects also include people, places, temples, ceremonies, and daily life in Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Cambodia, and Singapore. Numerous research articles reproduced by Ames, as well as travel brochures, are included. Material from student exhibits related to South Asian masks is also included.
The records have not been arranged into series since the entire fonds consists of closely related material.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records were transferred to AHHLA by Michael Ames in 2013.


The records have not been arranged into series since the entire fonds consists of closely related material.

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File list is available.

Associated materials

The majority of Ames’ personal and teaching records are held by the UBC Archives; for related records, see in particular the General Correspondence series, which includes correspondence with Ames’ contacts in South Asia. Records relating to Ames’ work at MOA are held in his director’s fonds at MOA Archives. Ames donated 2 masks to MOA in 1977 that are related to these records: a Bengali mask collected in Purulia (accession #Ef272), and a North and Central India mask collected in Bihar (accession #Ef273).

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A further accrual was added in 2013 as additional materials were located among a MOA curator's files (acc. #2013-09).

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Description created by Jen Stevenson-Zerkee, July 2010;
Updated by Taryn Day, October 2013;
Updated by Alison Weck, August 2015
Updated by Katie Ferrante, November 25, 2015

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