Henry Otley Beyer

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Henry Otley Beyer (13 July 1883 – 31 December 1966) is an American anthropologist, archaeologist, and pre-historian who is known for developing one of the first and most popular theories on the peopling of the Philippines. (Gaillard and Mallari)

Life and career

Beyer was born on 13 July 1883 in Iowa. He attained his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State College and a master’s degree in Chemistry from University of Denver in Colorado. After visiting the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition in Saint Louis in 1904, his passion for anthropology escalated, inspiring his lifelong involvement with the Philippines.

He was determined to travel to the country and decided to join the Philippine Ethnological Survey in 1905. It was during that time that the Philippine Reorganization Act relocated the Ethnological Survey’s Office to the Department of Education. David P. Barrows, who was the head of the department, permitted Beyer to go to the Philippines and conduct a study among the Ifugaos. A month after his appointment to the Philippine Ethnological Survey, he moved to Manila. Beyer also studied Philippine language, mythology, folklore, customs, law and prehistory.

He traveled to China, Egypt, Southern Asia, North Africa and Europe in 1908, and finished the graduate program under the Robert Winthrop Scholarship at Harvard University. A year later, the Philippine Bureau of Science appointed Beyer as an ethnologist, and he returned to the Philippines in 1910. He did fieldwork on the Ifugaos, Igorots, Apayaos, Kalingas and Christians of Ilocos, Pangasinan and Pampanga. He also made compilations of historical documents now known as the Philippine Ethnographic Series. The 150-volume series contains data on the various tribes of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. He even contributed to the preservation of ethnological excavations from Luzon and Mindanao as he was a part-time head of the Philippine Museum in 1909.


Beyer was one of the founding members of the Department of Anthropology of the University of the Philippines. He became head of the department in 1925. After the discovery of the Novaliches dam site in 1926, he put up the university’s museum where he preserved his collections of artifacts, stoneware, prehistoric tools, jewelry, Chinese ceramics and textiles. Beyer continued his archaeological work in Batangas, Laguna de Bay Basin, and Central Luzon. It was during this time that he published the Philippine Ethnographic Series and the ‘’Philippines Before Magellan’’.

Beyer worked on a remarkable site in Rizal province. From the Rizal-Bulacan and Batangas surveys, he recovered a history of the Central Luzon population spanning more than 10,000 years. From 1936-1937 , he worked on Philippine textiles. His paper on this was published in the annual report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1942.

The late President Manuel L. Quezon asked Beyer to donate all his archaeological collections, on the condition that the government would provide an adequate museum to house them. However, work on putting up a museum had not begun since the war started in 1941.

Beyer was appointed Emeritus Professor of Anthropology after leaving the university in 1954. For his great contributions on the study of Philippine archaeology, ethnology and history, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in science from Silliman University, a doctor of science in anthropology from Ateneo de Manila University and a doctor of laws from the University of the Philippines.


Beyer died in the Philippines on 31 December 1966 and was buried in an Ifugao burial shed on one of the hills of Banaue.

List of Publications

  • Batangas Archeology
  • Philippine Archeology Series
  • Bikol ethnography. vol. 1
  • Bikol ethnography. vol. 2
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 1
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 2
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 3
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 4
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 5
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 6
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 7
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 8
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 9
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 10
  • Bisaya ethnography. vol. 11
  • The Bontok People. Vol.4
  • Formosan Languages
  • Gaddang Vocabulary
  • Manunoo-English vocabulary
  • Kalatong
  • History of Batman
  • Ibatan-Spanish dictionary
  • Community assembly lectures: West Visayan
  • Community assembly lectures: Samar-leyte Visayan
  • The Prehistory of the Philippines

External link




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