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Accessing Anthropology: The Collections and Archives Program at the Department of Anthropology

Representing unparalleled scientific and cultural resources, the collections of the Department of Anthropology embody information that enables scholars to explore human creative and adaptive abilities, indigenous systems of knowledge, contact and exchange between diverse cultures over time, diverse expressions of being human, as well as extensive documentation of our complex and often endangered linguistic heritage. Holdings in the Anthropology Collections and Archives Program (CAP) include over 2.5 million objects, 10,000 linear feet of field notes and manuscripts, nearly 650,000 photographs, over 11,000 sound recordings, and more than 8 million feet of original film and video. These resources are held and cared for within the four units of CAP: Collections Management (Ethnology, Archaeology, and Physical Anthropology divisions), the Anthropology Conservation Lab, the National Anthropological Archives (manuscripts, photographs, recorded sound, digital media), and the Human Studies Film Archives (moving image collections).

Seen through the lens of exhibit and conservation projects, specific collections, and the metadata associated with collections, this portal showcases a number of our collections. It also provides information on how to access millions of other items through online databases.

Understanding Online Records

understanding online records collections cross search imageUnderstanding Online Records
A guide on how to access, use, and understand Anthropology's online collection databases for artifacts, manuscripts, photographs, sound, and film.

Anchorage Loan Conservation Project

Arctic Studies Center, Anchorage Museum, Anchorage Alaska. Photo by Chuck Choi.Anchorage Loan Conservation Project
Almost 600 ethnographic objects were prepared for Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage, an NMNH Arctic Studies Center exhibit in a new wing of the Anchorage Museum that opened in May of 2010. Click here to read more about this collaboration between Native consultants and conservators.
Above photo by Chuck Choi. Arctic Studies Center, Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska.

Jorge Prelorán Collection

sihsfa_2007_10_40bJorge Prelorán Collection
Prelorán was a preeminent Argentine filmmaker whose life's work includes more than sixty films, hundreds of audio recordings, extensive production and correspondence files, and over thirty digital books on subjects including religion, folklife, art, culture change and natural history of Argentina and Latin America. Explore the Prelorán collection, including video clips and complete films for viewing online.

Featured Collection

featured collectionThis rotating gallery highlights new collections and ones recently added to our databases. It also provides links to other Department of Anthropology online exhibitions. Enjoy! Photo Lot 2010-12
George L. Waite “Desert Sheiks” Lantern Slides


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National Museum of Natural History | Department of Anthropology | Collections and Archives Program