Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William James “Bill” Mayer-Oakes (1923-2005)


Born as Oskaloosa, Iowa on 15 October 1923, son of Frederick Thomas Mayer-Oakes and Margaret Care James, he graduated from the Pekin High School (1941) and served as a pilot in the United States Air Force during the Second World War (1943-1946). He then received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (1954). He worked as a field archaeologist at the Carnegie Museum (1950-1956), professor of archaeologist at the University of Toronto (1956-1959), and museum director at the University of Oklahoma (1959-1962) before arriving in Winnipeg in 1962 where he joined the faculty of the University of Manitoba as founding Head of the Department of Anthropology. He was a founding member of the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature (today's Manitoba Museum). In 1971, he moved to Texas Tech University at Lubbock as founding Chairman of the Department of Anthropology, working there for over 30 years. On 14 June 1947, he married Nita Allison (1925-1991) and they had a daughter and two sons. He died at Lubbock on 4 February 2005.


Obituary [Nita Allison Mayer-Oakes], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 May 1991, page 36.

William J. Mayer-Oakes: An Inventory of His Collection, 1896-2000, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University.

William James Mayer-Oakes, FindAGrave.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 November 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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