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Detail of Ho Chunk Bag (NMNH catalog no. E357877b)
Physical Anthropology Collections Research History Database Project

The Physical Anthropology Collections Research History Database Project is currently under development and we hope to have a functioning database very soon.

This project was inspired by a request from tribal representatives for information on the history of research that may have been conducted on human remains to which they were affiliated. An exhaustive search demonstrated that master lists or comprehensive databases that would facilitate the identification of sources relating to such research did not exist.

Books on a shelf

The National Museum of Natural History's John Wesley Powell Anthropology Library stacks.

The primary goal of this project is to assemble a manageable database that contains reference information relating to all research that has been conducted on the physical anthropology collections in the National Museum of Natural History with an emphasis on remains of Native American derivation.

Open Book

Example of bibliographic reference to be entered in the database.

This database will provide a tool for tribal representatives, Smithsonian researchers and visiting researchers that can be used to identify previous research that has been conducted on the collections. The database will enable researchers to identify who has worked with specific collections, which collections were studied, and, if available, where results of such studies might be available in published or on-file format. This will allow tribal representatives to identify publications and other sources of information that document research conducted on remains of interest to the tribe. It will also aid Repatriation Office staff in identifying what previous references might be available relating to collections when new requests for repatriation are received. Another potential of the database will be to facilitate the recording of ongoing collections use by visiting researchers. Once established, the database could be easily updated. The database will integrate bibliographic sources including: published books, journal articles, archival references, Repatriation Office reports, grey literature, and other similar sources.

The database is searchable by key terms and fields such as author, date, tribe, state, site, collector, catalog number, accession number, or other key words. The reference database used for this project is Biblioscape. Biblioscape is a well known reference software used by many universities and other institutions. Currently, the database is accessible only in the Repatriation Office. However, we hope to incorporate it into the National Museum of Natural History's master collections database, known as EMu, in the future.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History