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David Park McAllester (1916 – 2006), an ethnomusicologist, was Professor of Anthropology and Music at Wesleyan University, where he taught from 1947-1986. He made seminal contributions to the development of the field of ethnomusicology, and helped 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.

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

With the Second World War looming, he applied for and received a deferment as a conscientious objector, and served his alternative service 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, where he lived until he died.

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