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

Born in Reims, Halbwachs attended the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. There he studied philosophy with Henri Bergson, who influenced him greatly. He agregated in Philosophy 1901. He taught at various lycées before traveling to Germany in 1904, where he studied at the University of Gottingen. He returned to France in 1905 where he met Émile Durkheim and became interested in sociology. He soon joined the editorial board of the Annee 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 Chicago, when he was called to the Sorbonne 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 the Annee Sociologique. In 1944 he received one of France's highest honors, a chair at the Collège de France in Social Psychology. A longtime socialist, Halbwachs was detained by the Gestapo after the Nazi occupation of Paris and deported to Buchenwald, where he was executed in 1945.


  • Maurice Halbwachs: Intellectuel en Guerres Mondiales, 1914-1945. Anette Becker. 2003. Agnès Viénot. (In French)
  • 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 (NY), Harper & Row Colophon Books, 1980
    • 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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