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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Anthropology

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The diverse collections of the Department of Anthropology are an unparalleled resource containing historical and contemporary materials that document the world's cultures and history of anthropology. Our collections are used to understand the ways in which objects embody distinct worldviews and indigenous forms of knowledge as well as how their creation and use is enmeshed in social relationships.


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Archaeology, Ethnology and Physical Anthropology Collections

The Collections Database includes 97% of the cataloged specimens that are currently in the Ethnology and Archaeology collections, and provides information most commonly requested by researchers. Over 203,000 digital images of objects are currently available, with more added regularly. Ethnology records usually include an image of the original catalog card.

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National Anthropological Archives

The Archives Database for the National Anthropological Archives and is available through the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System, SIRIS, which includes other Smithsonian archives as well. All catalog records are available with more than 120,000 digital images, sound recordings and many Finding Aids.

New! The National Anthropological Archives has received a $1 million grant from the Arcadia Fund to launch the first two years of a long-term project to digitize endangered-language materials currently housed in the NAA. For more information visit newsdesk.si.edu.

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Human Studies Film Archives

The Archives Database for the Human Studies Film Archives is available through the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System, SIRIS, which includes other Smithsonian archives as well. All catalog records are available with more than 4,000 digital images,sound recordings and Finding Aids.

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Anthropology Conservation Laboratory
The ACL provides professional care for collections; reviews prospective acquisitions and loans; prepares collections for exhibit and loan; maintains objects on exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History; reviews sampling requests; advises on object care; and implements preventive conservation projects.

Accessing Anthropology: Highlights from the Collections and Archives Program (CAP) A developing web portal that will feature selected collections and projects in CAP, including information on how to access items within the holdings of our 2.5 million objects, 650,000 photographs, nearly 10,000 shelf feet of manuscripts and more than 8 million feet of original film and video.

Accessing Anthropology Understanding Online Records

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