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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department of Anthropology


Photo by Ken Rahaim

Upcoming Deadlines

Deadline to apply for the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is March 1st 2015, for information about the program click here.

AnthroLog Cover

AnthroLog, A National Museum of Natural History Department of Anthropology Newsletter

For back issues click here

Recent Publications:

Living o

Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska is an exhibition catalog with essays and photography that provide an in-depth view of Alaska Native cultural heritage.

Recent Exhibitions:


NEW! web portal:
Accessing Anthropology: The Collections and Archives Program at the Department of Anthropology.

web exhibition:
A Million Feet of Film / A Lifetime of Friendship: the John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Fim and Video Collection 1950-2000.

JamesFort Boy

Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake is an exploration of the human skeleton, revealing what forensic scientists can learn about a person’s age, ancestry, sex, and cause of death by examining the bones. Colonists of Jamestown, Virginia, and St. Mary’s City, Maryland, are the focus of a special forensic investigation.

Project Archaeology at the Smithsonian offers summer workshops and online professional development opportunities to teachers and informal educators who wish to incorporate archaeology into their curriculum or program. To read more about the Chesapeake regional Project Archaeology program, sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, click here.


Dept of Anthro
Department of Anthropology Staff, 1904, Smithsonian Institution Archives, NAA-42012

Anthropology is the study of human beings and societies in the past and present. The research conducted by the Department of Anthropology staff covers a wide range of topics and areas of the world. Some of the research topics include human-environmental interactions, population migration, origins of domestication, linguistics, and forensic anthropology.


Department of Anthropology Staff, 2007
Photo by Chip Clark


National Anthropological Archives Recieves $1 million grant

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. As many of you know from first-hand experience, the materials found in this archive preserve an unparalleled collection of primary sources for investigating endangered cultures and languages, indigenous environmental knowledge and the connections between these subjects. The project will be implemented by the National Anthropological Archives Program working in collaboration with the Recovering Voices Program on development of outreach.

Through this project, the team will digitize its entire collection of ethnographic sound recordings, estimated at 3,000 hours, as well as 35,000 pages of manuscript materials, using techniques that will make these electronic sources readily available to the public through the Smithsonian’s online and openly accessible catalog system. The project team plans to create digital surrogates of voice recordings and paper documents in the NAA, and make them publicly available to support researchers and communities struggling to research, document and revitalize indigenous languages and cultures. Online access will make the material widely available for use without damage to the historic originals.

To learn more, you can read the press at

New to Website:

Recovering Voices 28_2_Bell

Recovering Voices
Recovering Voices brings together communities, individuals, and academics to document and revitalize endangered languages and knowledges around the world. Individual research and collaborative projects allow endangered language and knowledge practitioners and teachers access to the Smithsonian’s vast collections and archives as resources for the protection, understanding, and documentation of important cultural and linguistic heritages.

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Department of Anthropology, Aleut gutskin cape, E2128-0a

Videos: 19th Century Explorers and Anthropologists: Developing the Earliest Anthropology Collections for the Smithsonian
Six Smithsonian anthropologists relate the fascinating stories of how the Smithsonian came into possession of important, early collections from around the world and their value for research and local communities to this day.

The collections of the Department of Anthropology are an unparalleled resource containing historical and contemporary materials that document the world’s cultures and the history of anthropology.

Accessing Anthropology: The Collections and Archives Program at the Department of Anthropology showcases a few of these collections and provides information on how to access millions of other items through online databases.The portal also includes a section on the Anchorage Loan Conservation Project.

New to Website:

Jorge Prelorán Collection, Human Studies Film Archives

Web exhibition on the Jorge Prelorán Collection. Prelorán was a preeminent Argentine filmmaker whose life's work includes more than
fifty films, hundreds of audio recordings, extensive production and correspondence files, and thirty-six digital books on subjects including religion, folklife, art, culture change, and natural history of Argentina and Latin America.  The web exhibit will introduce Prelorán's career and philosophy, provide access to further research in the collection, and offer complete films for viewing on a rotating basis.

Smithsonian Secretary's Exhibition Award:
The Secretary’s Exhibition Award went to Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century, (February 2009--January 2013), co-curated by physical anthropologists Doug Owsley, curator of physical anthropology, and Kari Bruwelheide in the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology.

Smithsonian Secretary's Distinguished Research Lecture Award:
Dr. Adrienne L. Kaeppler, Curator of Oceanic Ethnology at the National Museum of Natural History, has been selected to receive the 2010 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award.  She will deliver her lecture, “The Holophusicon and The Smithsonian: Two Extraordinary Institutions of Science, Curiosity, and Art,” on January 12, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. in Baird Auditorium at the Natural History Museum.
The Distinguished Research Lecture Award recognizes a scholar’s sustained achievement in research, longstanding investment in the Smithsonian, and outstanding contribution to a field, as well as his or her ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience.  



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