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Accessing Anthropology: Online Databases and Other Resources

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The Department of Anthropology, a part of the National Museum of Natural History, maintains ethnographic, archaeological, and human biological collections numbering over two and a half million items and the nation’s premier archives devoted to anthropological manuscripts and film. Anthropology collections document world cultures past and present and the history of anthropology. Information on collections, conservation, and research is available through the databases and web pages listed below.

Collections Search Center (CSC)
- The Collections Search Center provides easy "one-stop searching" of more than 5.4 million of the Smithsonian's museum, archives, library and research holdings and collections from across the institution. Selected fields from Anthropology’s ethnographic, archaeological, and archival databases are included, and the CSC provides links to the specific online databases listed below.

Department of Anthropology Collections Database - This database provides access to catalog records for the archaeology and ethnology collections, with 420,000 records representing an estimated 2.5 million individual objects. The online database includes selected information from the catalog about objects, including their identification, place of collection, and cultural attribution. More than 111,000 images of objects are available, and more are added as they become available.

John Wesley Powell Anthropology Library - The library database is included in SIRIS. The Anthropology Library is one of 20 branches in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries system. It supports the research, publication, exhibitions, and public programming of the department and the wider Smithsonian. The collection reflects the important role that the Smithsonian played in the development of anthropology as a formal discipline in the United States. The library maintains the All Anthropology Staff Publications Database.


Guide to the Collections of the National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives - Comprehensive, alphabetically arranged guides to more than 650 manuscript and photograph collections acquired before 1996 and a guide to more than 8 million feet of ethnographic film and video acquired before 1994. Each entry in the guides includes a title, biographical data or administrative history, an indication of the type of documents available and a description of contents (often including lengthy lists of authors, photographers, and correspondents). Data about overall dates, quantity, arrangement, finding aids, and restrictions are also provided. More recent collections are described in SIRIS.

Anthropology Conservation Laboratory - 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. View the website to learn about conservation projects in the lab including the conservation and study of two Yup’ik Ceremonial Masks. Also view the recent Anchorage Loan Conservation Project.

Department of Anthropology Staff Publications - A comprehensive list of recent works authored and edited by the staff of the Department of Anthropology.

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