Currently viewing the tag: "Phase 2"

Today Kelly and I continued our Phase 2 work in the Anthropology Archives. The beginning of the day was business as usual, and we made our way through a majority of Room 1. The last collection we looked at is the one that really caught our eye, belonging to Nels Christian Nelson. Nelson was a long-time employee at AMNH, serving in a number of curatorial positions at the Museum. He was also President of the American Anthropological Association, President of the Society for American Archaeology, President of the American Ethnological Society, and Vice President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

While we had written about mixed collections before, this one takes the cake! It was a mammoth collection made up of all different formats: papers, correspondence, photographs, negatives, lantern slides, maps, field journals, and film.

There were over 2,500 photographs and most were curling and brittle, even with sleeves. Luckily they are being digitized, so researchers can still access them despite their deteriorating condition. The maps were also in pretty poor shape, many were too brittle to be unrolled. However, the lantern slides and negatives appeared to be in good condition, with surprisingly no cracks and very little fading. Needless to say, it took us some time to go through and properly assess this collection, but is a great example of the different kinds of materials that make up each collection in the Anthropology Archives.

On our final day in the Photographic Slide Collection, we divided our day between the two summer-long goals of cataloging hidden collections and performing a risk assessment of these collections. We are pleased to report that we reached our target of carrying out Phase 1 and Phase 2 up to PSC 359!

It was business as usual on our last day with this collection, and we have certainly seen a lot of amazing images. We had a very productive summer and learned a lot from this experience. See below for a photo of all of the collections we worked our way through.

Both David and I will be returning for the fall and are looking forward to exploring different areas of the archives. See you next semester!


Today we went through the end of Phase 1 and, unbelievably, we also made it through the end of Phase 2. How satisfying. The Photographic Print Collection is now done. Yay!

We came across this cool stereoscopic viewer which allowed us to see the slides in 3D, which included photos of Hawaii and Cambodia. Low-tech Avatar, but it really works.

This summer has been a great learning experience, and we got to see some pretty amazing stuff. Not only in processing the Photographic Print Collection, but through SAA webinars, tours of the diorama renovations and rare book rooms, and the brown bag lunch with Richard T. Fischer.

Lauren will be returning for more museum adventures this fall, but this is Joanna’s farewell. Thank you Iris, Becca, Barbara, Tom, Mai, Greg, and the rest of library staff for everything.


Our day began with a brown bag lunch with former AMNH intern, Richard T. Fischer. Richard presented his summer experience in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian’s Botany Library. He worked on the “Connecting Content: A Collaboration to Link Field Notes to Specimens and Published Literature” project as the Information Connections Research Intern. He spent the summer developing a methodology to connect the materials in the field notebooks, to publications and to specimens.

After lunch, we returned to the photographic print collection. Today we had a special guest, Iris, helping us catalog the remaining collections. We found this stunning photo, above, of Bedouin woman from Turkmenistan, taken in 1866 . Check out that headdress!

Next week our goal is to complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 for the photographic print collection. Wish us luck!

Today in Anthropology I worked with Lauren to complete the risk assessment in Location II. There were only about 10 collections left in this location, and fortunately they were fairly large and generally only 1 or 2 collection units. We finished the risk assessment in this location before lunch, and moved on to the map case in the Anthropology hallway after lunch. Our favorite find from Location II today was this floor plan of an unknown museum from the “Notes on Museum Collections in Europe and America, 1911-1930” collection. Notice the bear hunt scene at the far left.


After lunch, we completed risk assessment on the hallway map case, and found these drawings of clay dolls from the collection of James Alfred Ford.


Next week we hope to finish risk assessment on the remaining hallway cabinets, which will bring us much closer to finishing both phases in Anthropology – hooray!

Beginning our day with the second round of “Risk Assessment,” we swiftly moved our way back through all of the collections we had processed so far. In general, the slides are all in very good condition and rarely show any signs of preservation concerns. The most significant “risk” from these collections is dissociation by lacking any type of identification (other than the label on the outside of the box), thereby rendering them not-so-useful for research purposes.

With half of the day ahead of us, we moved onto a little spreadsheet data clean up and authority work. Here’s a little elaboration on one authority file we updated…Box 208 is labeled “G. Ekholm Collection, Mayan Photographs, 35 mm color slides, 44 images.” This “G. Ekholm” is actually the late Dr. Gordon F. Ekholm, curator emeritus here at the museum. Earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Harvard, Dr. Ekholm was an expert in the field of pre-Columbian archaeology of Mesoamerica. Many of his studies focused on parallels between southern and eastern Asian cultures and the Mayan civilization. An author search retrieved 17 records from the AMNH research library OPAC, including several books, numerous co-authored publications, and a few films. He served as an AMNH staff member for several decades.

But back to the collection…there are 44 slides, many of which are glass mounted, and all of which contain detailed captions, but no dates. The most eye-catching part of the collection concerns a “Volador Pole.” This group of photographs was taken during an expedition to Mexico, which focuses on a ceremonial ritual called the “Danza de los Volodares,” or “Dance of the Flyers.” Think of it as a merry-go-round for very brave adults. It consists of 5 dancers who climb a 30-meter pole, four of whom launch themselves from the top, tied by their feet with ropes, and swing around in circles, while the fifth remains at the top to play a flute and pray. According to myth, the ritual exists to ask the gods for a reprieve from severe drought. In 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized this ceremony with the Intangible Cultural Heritage distinction. For those interested further, a video clip can be accessed here.