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Maurice Halbwachs ( , 11 March 1877 - 16 March 1945) was a French philosopher and sociologist known for developing the concept of collective memory.

Born in Reimsmarker, Halbwachs attended the École Normale Supérieuremarker in Paris. There he studied philosophy with Henri Bergson, who influenced him greatly. He aggregated in Philosophy in 1901. He taught at various lycées before traveling to Germany in 1904, where he studied at the University of Göttingenmarker and worked on cataloging Leibniz's papers. He was nominated to co-edit an edition of Leibniz's work which never came to fruition. He returned to France in 1905 where he met Émile Durkheim and became interested in sociology. He soon joined the editorial board of L'Année Sociologique, where he worked with François Simiand editing the Economics and Statistics section. In 1909, he returned to Germany to study Marxism and economics in Berlin.

Throughout World War I, Halbwachs worked at the War Ministry. Shortly after the end of the war, he became professor of sociology and pedagogy at the University of Strasbourg. He remained in this position for over a decade, taking leave for a year as a visiting professor at the University of Chicagomarker, when he was called to the Sorbonnemarker in 1935. There he taught sociology and worked closely with Marcel Mauss and served as the editor of Annales de Sociologie, the successor journal to L'Année Sociologique. In 1944 he received one of France's highest honors, a chair at the Collège de Francemarker in Social Psychology. A longtime socialist, Halbwachs was detained by the Gestapomarker after the Nazi occupation of Paris and deported to Buchenwaldmarker, where he died of dysentery in 1945.

Part of his books were offered by his widow to the library of the Centre d'études sociologiques and are now held at the Human and Social Sciences Library Paris Descartes-CNRS.


  • Maurice Halbwachs: Intellectuel en Guerres Mondiales, 1914-1945. Anette Becker. 2003. Agnès Viénot.
  • Halbwachs, Maurice, On collective memory, Chicago (IL), The University of Chicago Press, 1992
    • translated from: Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1952, originally published in Les Travaux de L'Année Sociologique, Paris, F. Alcan, 1925
    • edited, translated and introduction by Lewis A. Coser, includes a translation of the conclusion of: La Topographie légendaire des évangiles en terre sainte: étude de mémoire collective, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1941
  • Halbwachs, Maurice, The collective memory, New York, Harper & Row Colophon Books, 1980, 182 pages
    • pdfs of chapters 1 and 2 available (pp. 22-49 and 50-87) on UCSB Collective Memory seminar website
    • translated from: La mémoire collective, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1950
    • introduction by Mary Douglas, includes a translation of: ‘La mémoire collective chez les musiciens’, Revue philosophique, no. 3 – 4 (1939)

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