Anthropology has a wonderful website that offers access to a database of their collections including some of what is included in their archive. Luckily they were able to offer the archive data to us, we’ve requested the data as both Excel and Access files. The students will verify and add to these archive records in our Excel sheet as they come across them. The data is a great gift as it contains already vetted records including extensive subject headings.

We are working on moving the data into the Excel sheet that we are using for Phase 1. In the meantime, the team will start with some of the collections that are not included in the database. Any new records that we create will be offered back to the Anthropology department so that they can update their database. These collections will include:

  • Accession Ledgers
  • Accession Envelopes
  • Donor Cards
  • Original Catalogs
  • Original Publication Artwork

Over the course of the project we will be finding many standard departmental records throughout the various departmental archives. That said, the departments often organize and use the records differently.

In Anthropology the accession records are made up of Accession Ledgers, Accession Envelopes and Donor Cards. All of these records relate back to each other and offer an additional perspective on the details of a collection that has been accessioned. For our Phase 1 cataloging effort each of these will be recorded as a different collection which relates to the other. This should help us capture the unique and comprehensive approach that the division uses and make sure it’s reflected in the OPAC records that will be generated.

I thought it might be interesting to share how Anthropology is going to define their Accession Envelopes for the Catalog records. This definition comes from Kristen Mable and Paul Beelitz in Anthropology.

There is an “accession envelope” for each of the x,xxx accessions which have been made by the Anthropology Division since the time of the Museum’s founding to the present.  The envelopes are stored chronologically, and contain documents pertinent to each accession, e.g., correspondence, shipping records, lists, collector’s notes, letters of transmittal (implemented in the 1980s), AMNH accession records, record of payment, ephemera, etc.

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