Fonds MG 4278 - Samuel Joseph Noumoff fonds

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Samuel Joseph Noumoff fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based upon the content of the fonds.

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CA MUA MG 4278

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  • approximately 1935-2010 (predominant 1970s-2006) (Creation)
    Noumoff, S. J. (Samuel Joseph), 1935-2014

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Physical description

1.6 meters of textual records
21 graphic materials
1056 photographs
70 35mm negative strips
6 film reels ; 8mm
5 objects
2 mixed media

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Samuel (Sam) Joseph Noumoff was born on November 14, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to parents Louis Noumoff and Tillie Cohen. After completing his Bachelor of Arts in 1956 at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, he attended University of New York (NYU) where he earned his M.A. in 1965. In the late 1950s, Noumoff was drafted into the United States Army, and was stationed in Europe where he met Francesca Wuest de Wellberg Esterhazy. He was honorably discharged in 1965, and then married Francesca in New York, in 1966. He subsequently moved to Canada where he spent a year as Lecturer at the University of New Brunswick, then joined the Department of Political Science at McGill University in 1967 as an Associate Professor. He was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. In the early 1970s he travelled to Vietnam several times and wrote about the war, including contributions to two antiwar volumes and multiple papers, talks and newspaper articles. While teaching at McGill, Dr. Noumoff continued to work on his PhD which was conferred by NYU in 1975.

In 1971, he was part of the first Canadian delegation to enter China after the normalization of diplomatic relations. Over the next 30 years Dr. Noumoff made regular return visits, including seven cross-China lecture tours. Throughout the 1970s he taught courses in political theory and comparative politics. Aside from offering a radical perspective on the comparative politics of East Asia, Dr. Noumoff introduced students to Marxist political theory and offered a course, called Comparative Revolution. Dr. Noumoff had a profound understanding of modern Chinese politics and a passion for the protection of the oppressed. He became an authority on politics in China, Japan and the Koreas, and maintained relationships with organisations and movements all over South East Asia, Cuba, El Salvador and across Latin America, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, India, Malaysia and Palestine. In 1999, Dr. Noumoff was appointed Economic Development Advisor to two of Chong Qing’s (Sichuan Province) sub-cities (Fuling and Jiulongpo).

At McGill, Dr. Noumoff helped to organize East Asian studies, was instrumental in the creation of the Center for East Asian Studies, and served as its Director. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he also served as Director of the Center for Developing Area Studies, which was the beginning of the current McGill Institute for the Study of International Development (MISID). Dr. Noumoff was a strong supporter of the internship program in the Faculty of Arts and was involved in the writing of the first grant proposal to the Québec government. All of these initiatives yielded enduring benefits for McGill. Dr. Noumoff was also a longstanding member of the McGill University Senate, where he represented the Faculty of Arts, and served on the Board of Governors. Noumoff was known for his protection of due process across the university, his encouragement of transparency in university governance, the protection of academic freedom and faculty and student welfare, and his defence and promotion of the importance of a progressive liberal arts education at McGill. Dr. Noumoff wrote some two hundred articles and papers, many unpublished or published in difficult to access journals in the developing world.

Until his retirement in 2006, Noumoff seemed a fixture at McGill with a distinguished 40-year career as teacher, mentor and researcher. He passed away in November of 2014 shortly after the death of his wife Francesca.

Custodial history

The records were kept by the creator in his office and his home until they were donated to the McGill University Archives on the event of his death.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of documents, photographs, films, and objects relevant to the professional and personal history of Samuel Joseph Noumoff. The scope predominantly covers the period from 1970-2006, and includes Professor Noumoff’s published articles and unpublished drafts, including some translated editions. His personal papers include professional and personal correspondence, especially letters to and from his wife Francesca and the contacts he made during his travels, materials related to his family history, photographs and ephemera of his travels in South East Asia.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The fonds had a no natural arrangement so one was imposed by the archivist based upon the content of the fonds.

Language of material

  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

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Language and script note

The material is predominately in English, French, Spanish, Chinese dialects, and other languages.

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Restrictions on access

Some files are restricted under the legislation An Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information (R.S.Q., chapter A-2.1).

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No further accruals are expected.

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