Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

PRM Documentation Part 1

Annual Report entries about museum documentation 1888-1958

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

Note: Between 1893 and 1937-8 the phrases 'the Curator' or 'I' both refer to Henry Balfour

1888 The greater portion of work in this gallery is completed, and this portion of the Museum is now sufficiently advanced to be opened to the public in the afternoons. There still, however, remains to be done a large amount of labelling, and it is intended to add, where necessary, small maps showing the geographical distribution of various weapons, etc. and sketches, in order to explain as fully as possible the different series. About 1500 of the specimens upon the screens have been fully catalogued; that is, a label upon each specimen refers by a number to a separate card, upon which is written an exact description of the specimen, with measurements, where necessary, locality, and all data, as well as references to literature. The cards are numbered and arranged in series in boxes.

1890 In the main Court similar work has been done. The collection of musical instruments (wind) has been re-arranged and labelled in detail, with maps showing the geographical distribution of certain instruments, and sketches, and the specimens have been catalogued.

1908 A card-catalogue of the very extensive collection of Amulets, Talismans and Magic-appliances, has been commenced by Miss B. Freire Marreco, a former Diploma student, who has kindly devoted a considerable amount of time to this work.

1909 Miss B. Freire Marreco has very kindly continued her card catalogue of the Magic series, which is approaching completion. She has received valuable help from three Japanese students, temporarily resident in Oxford - Mr Yoshimune Yasugi, Mr S. Uchigasaki and Miss Mitani, whose kind assistance I gratefully acknowledge.

Note that until about 1910 reference is made in almost every Annual Report to new labelling being given to displays in the Museum, as no further details are given I have not added the references here.

1911 A card-catalogue of the extensive collection of Musical Instruments was commenced and far advanced towards completion. In this work I have had the kind assistance of Mr. M. W. Hilton Simpson, who worked nearly daily in the Museum during more than half the year. When completed, this catalogue will lead to a re-classification of the whole series of musical instruments, which is a very fine one, although the space available for its exhibition is very inadequate.

1912 Mr. G. Carline has very kindly volunteered to re-draft the lists of accessions, and has for some time been engaged upon this piece of work, which, when completed, will be of great value to the Museum. The Museum is also very much indebted to Miss W. Blackman for her assistance in making card-catalogues of the Fire-making series and some of the groups of Musical Instruments. The extension of the card catalogue is a very important piece of work which was commmenced by Miss B. Freire Marreco and Mr. M. W. Hilton Simpson, and it is hoped that means may be found which will enable the catalogue to be continued. A large number of specimens have been photographed for the catalogue for other purposes.

1913 The card-catalogue has been considerably advanced and the series of Musical Instruments, Fire-making, Charms and Amulets, have been completely-catalogued to date. This work has been in the hands of Miss W. Blackman, who is still engaged upon the catalogue. I have to thank Professor K. Hamada and Captain H. Ninomiya for their kind assistance in describing a number of Japanese specimens for the catalogue. Mr. G. R. Carline has kindly continued his volunteer work of copying and re-drafting the accessions-books.

1914 The card-catalogue has made excellent progress. Miss W. Blackman has devoted a considerable amount of time to this work, and, in addition to keeping up to date the serial catalogue already made, has completed card-lists of some additional series. At present the following series have been catalogued: Fire-making appliances, Musical Instruments, primitive Food-vessels, &c., Currency, Agricultural Appliances and those used in the Preparation of Food, Magic and Charms, Basketry, Toys and Games, Tattooing appliances, and the series of Artificial Cranial Deformations. The classification of the cards is in progress, and special cabinets are used for this purpose.

1915 The card-catalogue has been continued steadily. Miss Blackman has catalogued the valuable collection of spear-throwers, and was engaged in cataloguing a very large collection of primitive lighting-appliances which will eventually be added to the Museum. The catalogues already completed have been brought up to date. Mr. A. M. Hocart catalogued a portion of the series of headrests, but was not able to complete this.

1916 The card-catalogue has been continued by Miss W. S. Blackman, and the series of spoons, of ornaments involving artificial deformation, and of lighting appliances, were added to those already catalogued. A very large collection of lighting appliances which will be given to the Museum shortly vas also card-catalogued. The existing catalogues have been completed to date.

1917 The card-catalogue has been continued by Miss Blackman, whose attention was chiefly devoted to the large collection of rosaries, which now includes the important collection made by the late Sir E. B. Tylor. These have been fully catalogued, and, in connexion with this work, Miss Blackman has written the article on Rosaries for the Hastings Dictionary of Religion. A large number of catalogue-cards relating to other series have been filled up.

1919 Miss Blackman has continued the card-catalogue and has completed the series of weighing appliances, mirrors, and combs. She has also continued the cataloguing of the library.

1920 The card-catalogue has been continued by Miss Blackman.

1921 Mr G. R. Carline has continued to act as assistant to the Curator and has largely been engaged in labelling and cataloguing. The existing card-catalogues have been brought up to date.

1924 A large amount of re-labelling of the older material and of checking off with lists has been done by my assistants, Mr. Carline and Mr. Thomas, and this is still in progress. The card-catalogues have been brought up to date.

1926 A great amount of labelling and cataloguing of specimens has been done by my Assistant, Mr. E. S. Thomas, in all parts of the Museum.

1928 Mr. E. S. Thomas has continued the work of labelling and making lists of the specimens in their serial groups.

1929 An important piece of work was commenced, that is, the preparation of a card-index catalogue of the collection of objects from the Naga Hills and surrounding regions. The Naga collection is probably the most complete in the world and is of great scientific importance. It is hoped that a catalogue resonné of this collection may be published in due course. As a step towards facilitating this the card-index is being prepared by my assistant.

1930 A card-index catalogue of the collection from the Naga Hills, Assam, and from surrounding areas, has been completed to date under my direction by Mr. E. S. Thomas.

1931 Card-index catalogues have been brought up to date. The extensive collection of ethnological photographs, which have gradually accumulated, was taken in hand, and a start was made to have them uniformly mounted and classified for arrangement in a series of cases. When completed this collection will be very valuable for reference.

1932 The mounting and classified grouping of the large series of ethnological photographs was nearly completed, and cases for containing this collection were purchased. My assistant, Mr. E. S. Thomas, was engaged upon this work during the greater part of the year, and in bringing card-catalogues up to date. In order to associate together all the classified photographs, a cabinet of portfolios was transferred to the Book-room in the iron building. ... Sir Francis Knowles very kindly volunteered to make a card-index catalogue of a collection of more than a thousand specimens illustrating primitive methods of illumination, which I have presented to the Museum. This work occupied him during many months.

1933 The card-catalogue of the collection of Lighting-appliances, presented by me in 1932, was practically completed by Sir Francis Knowles, who also commenced a card-catalogue of the series of primitive Surgical and Medical appliances. I am greatly indebted to him for his valuable voluntary assistance. The cataloguing of the extensive comparative series of Foot-gear was kindly undertaken by Miss A. Powell-Cotton and is still in progress. My assistant, Mr. E. S. Thomas, has brought the existing card-catalogues of series up to date and has been engaged in making special lists of groups of Museum material.

1934 Card-cataloguing has been continued by my assistant, Mr. E. S. Thomas, who has also been engaged in making special lists of specimens. Sir Francis Knowles and Miss Powell-Cotton have kindly continued to serve as volunteer workers in the making of card-catalogues.

1935-6 The death of Mr. E. S. Thomas, who had served as Assistant Curator for about 12 years, on 9 June 1936, has caused a serious gap on the Staff. .... Cataloguing work and much of the essential routine work have had to be stopped for the time being, and that work must necessarily accumulate, greatly to the detriment of the Department.

1936-7 With the exception of one series, the card-cataloguing of special collections has had to be stopped owing to the death of Mr. Thomas. Sir Francies Knowles has very kindly continued, as a volunteer helper, to catalogue the series upon which he was already engaged. His help is greatly appreciated.

1937-8 Miss Beatrice Blackwood, University Demonstrator in Ethnology, returned in April after two years’ absence on ethnological field-work in New Guinea and New Britain. She has since been occupied in cataloguing and in preparing for publication the results of her expedition. ... Since January I have had the assistance of Dr. Heinrich Meinhardt, a distinguished orientalist from Berlin University, in the cataloguing of accessions. This has been made possible by a grant from the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (Academic Assistance Council), London, to whom I am grateful for the opportunity of obtaining his valuable services.
Sir Francis Knowles has very kindly continued his voluntary work of cataloguing some of the series, but most of the card-cataloguing has remained in abeyance for some years owing to lack of staff.

1938-9 The card catalogues have been collected into the Curator’s room, and work resumed on them. A filing system has been installed. ... Dr. H. Meinhardt has continued to give temporary assistance in entering collections in the accessions books, research in Museum matters, and photography for the Museum.

1939-40 Similar work is being done in another long room, intended for reception of new material, employing unwanted partitions and boxes which a wise Government has forced us to clear from lofts where they had lain for over half a century. Tables down the centre will allow us immediately to unpack and treat material for its preservation and store it in the labelled cupboards to be entered in accessions books and be distributed by the academic staff. The work has been hard and dirty, but exciting, and it is pleasant to see how nice the result is beginning to look when finished by doors made from such strips of clean wood as Mr. Green is able to buy and plywood panels. After consulation with Mr. Digby of the British Museum, we developed a system of numbering all accessions as soon as they arrive by the year, month, and serial number within the month, placing a nought before the serial number of a loan, and a beta before the serial number of a purchase. This allows the immediate entry of everything. Full cataloguing is now done on cards by regions and by subjects, and is necessarily a longer process involving more or less research.
So much for new accessions. The problem of accessions during the last 50 years is being thus met. Mrs. Meinhard, Mrs. Maspero, Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Gibbs are indexing the old accessions books under regions and tribes, the cards referring to the pages wherein the material from any region may be found. Thus lecturers and research-workers can at once learn what material is available, and above all, we can easily advise our collectors of what we need, avoid duplication of effort, and save money in purchases. Mr. Atkinson, too, has brought up to date a donors’ catalogue so that we can immediately discover what a particular person has given or lent, a matter of obvious importance when travellers or collectors wish to add to gifts already made, or turn some of their loans into gifts. The old subject catalogue is being continued. ... The temporary absence of Dr. H. Meinhardt, a refugee, threw the entire burden of entering up accessions and cataloguing of material, photography, and the making of lantern-slides on the Curator, Miss Blackwood and some voluntary helpers. During an emergency, work can go on at high pitch, without vacations, and voluntary workers will give of their best. But it cannot be too much emphasized that a permanent Assistant Curator is a prime necessity. ... Over 4,000 specimens have been dealt with this year, including some arrears, and only a brief indication will be given of their nature.

1940-1 This room is now used for reception, so that we know first that all material unentered in Accessions Books will be in one place, and secondly that its possible moth, rust, worm, or other corruption will not infect the rest of the collections. ... About 20,000 cards have been written this year towards indexing the Accessions Books by donors, regions, and subjects. Mrs. Meinhard supervises their arrangement, and deals with some of the more difficult books. Mr. Gibbs, Mrs. Maspero, and Mrs. Clibborn are helping to bring this work up to date, and already in adolescence, it is proving most useful in saving our time and easing our temper. Miss Blackwood has made a preliminary catalogue of our large library of lantern slides, negatives, and cinematograph films, which badly needs a separate room for ready reference and use. Mr. Gibbs has greatly improved and developed the catalogue of our many amulets. Apparently we have an appropriate charm against any evil that could befall anyone in the wide world, whatever his beliefs may be. Mr. Kenneth Hutton is working out the scales of all our oboes, and Major Pollard, author of several standard works on small arms, has been cataloguing our comparative series of obsolete firearms, the nucleus of the Pitt-Rivers Museum and the origin of its being. Dr. Meinhard is proceeding with the regional catalogue of material received after 1940 on large cards with photographs and descriptions, and has printed a number of fine large descriptive labels which add greatly to the value of some exhibitions. Mr. Robins, author of The Story of the Lamp, is continuing the catalogue of several thousand lamps and lighting appliances when he can get to Oxford. Much of our older American Indian material is labelled simply “American Indian”. Mr. Turner has been co-operating with Miss Blackwood in assigning accurate provenances and explanations of these fine old specimens of craftsmanship.

1941-2 To meet this situation, we have completely rearranged the large collections in the iron shed, cataloguing those which were unentered, given our supply of packing cases to the Wellcome Museum in return for theirs, and put into order the valuable small library there given by Tylor and others so that it can be easily and quickly incorporated with the Balfour and Buxton libraries from Crick Road in the eastward wing of the adjoining Geology Department when that is vacated. We can now begin to catalogue and distribute this African collection, not yet knowing how we shall find room to finish, but trusting that things will take shape, and being on the lookout to see that they do. ... At the Crick Road annexe Dr. Meinhard has nearly finished the catalogue of the Balfour collection, containing about 700 musical instruments, 1,300 fire-making and lighting appliances, and about 320 general ethnographical specimens, and Mr. Ford has nearly finished cataloguing the Balfour and Buxton libraries, apart from the large collection of pamphlets. The greater part of the Accessions Books have by now been collected, sorted, and uniformly bound in numbered series. The Curator and Mrs. Maspero are indexing them by donors, regions and subjects. Since over a million cards must be written before the catalogues are complete, and we have only odd hours to spare, it may be some time before we can report a satisfactory card catalogue. Among the most useful pieces of work in the general ordering of the collections is Miss Blackwood’s Short Directory of the Series in the Pitt Rivers Museum which lists in alphabetical order every series in the main court and galleries, its position and key-number, and is interleaved to allow alterations. Several copies have been typed and bound so that every member of the staff engaged in finding or putting away specimens can go at once to the right place with the right key. ... . In the Lower Gallery Mr. Turner has arranged and catalogued our series of moccasins according to the classification of Gudmund Hatt’s paper in the Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association III, 3, 1916. Other of the twenty classes apart from the Eskimo, we have good examples from I, VI, IX X, XI, XII, XIV, and XV. ... Entry of past and present accessions continues. Dr. Meinhard’s entry of the musical instruments in the Balfour collection brings our catalogue of musical instruments up to about 4,000. It is one of the richest collections in the world of its kind, and one of the least accessible for lack of a printed illustrated guide. .... Another catalogue which ought to be published is that of the even larger collection of fire-making and lighting appliances. ... Miss Blackwood has arranged the whole of our collection of slides in labelled boxes which we were able to buy as salvage, with the exception of the American series arranged by Mr. Turner, and those for lectures on arts and industries arranged by the Curator.

Many of our collections ought to be published. Mr. Robins, author of The Story of the Lamp, has by now catalogued about 1,200 lamps in our series illustrating illumination and fire-making at all times and in all areas, and considers it one of the largest and best in the world, and about the least accessible, through lack of space and publication. The same might be said of our Musical Instruments, numbering over 4,000 already catalogued on cards or in accessions books.

1943-4 The Curator and Demonstrator have indexed regionally the original Pitt Rivers Collections and the ethnological collections sent by the Old Ashmolean Museum in 1886, which include the specimens collected by Captain Cook and early explorers of the North-West Passage. This involved the writing of about 20,000 regional and collectors’ or donors’ cards, and the collation with about a dozen other books of collections, to make certain whether we had one or more of each of various specimens, and sometimes entering sets of objects in accessions books for the first time, especially when these had arrived before the long reign of the late Curator. Cards can be removed or mislaid by carelessness without malice, but numbered pages in bound and numbered volumes are like a cash book with entries on alternate pages, and notes on the opposite page concerning the use of specimens for exchange, or stating their condition. Mrs. Maspero and Miss Allen have voluntarily helped us by continuing the index of the ordinary Donors’ volumes, and we are grateful for their patience and skill. Dr. Meinhard has all but concluded the entry of the Jeffreys collection of about 2,900 specimens from Nigeria and the Cameroons, acquired by the good offices of Professor Gunn and the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum ... Nearly all of the large Westlake collection of about 12,000 stone implements is now in classified drawers, and about 5,000 other specimens are classified and distributed elsewhere, or roughly classified in closed packing cases in Museum House, so that for the time we can find them fairly quickly, and can ultimately move with speed, decency and cleanliness.

1944-5 During the past year, Dr. Meinhard completed the entry of the Jeffreys collections from the Cameroons and Nigeria, and left us to work on an Ethnographical Survey of Africa for the International Institute of African Languages and Culture ... A pleasant event was A. E. Gunther’s loan of the Hermann Arthur Gunther collection of Japanese Netsuke. The late Dr. H. A. Gunther, ...collection contains 851 netsuke... The whole collection is accompanied by a catalogue, on which Dr. Gunther worked for more than twenty years, giving full details of the artists, and the subjects, mythological, historical, religious, natural, or humourous ... The Curator has entered and arranged the Bell Collection of some 3000 European Stone Age specimens, and entered and indexed the old collections transferred from the University Museum in 1886, and brought the index of Donors, Lenders, and Sellers up to date. Miss Blackwood added about 18,000 cards to the Regional Index, and reorganized the boxes, which now run to 120, representing about an eighth of the cards needed for the present specimens, which are close on a million. Much of the work done by her and the Curator involved detailed cataloguing of collections that had been entered en masse, and of collation with more than one Accessions Book.

1945-6 During the past two years we have finished the entering, restoration, and classification by principal subjects of specimens in storage in the three outbuildings and in the main building. ... During the supervision of these models Sir Francis made a valuable catalogue of our Indian boomerangs at the request of the High Commissioner for Australia, retaining a copy for our own use. ... Miss Blackwood has added over 30,000 cards to our Regional Index, now increased to 140 boxes, and the Curator has entered and arranged the Bell Collection of some 3,000 European Stone Age specimens, entered and indexed the old collections transferred from the University Museum in 1886, and brought the Index of Donors, Lenders, and Sellers up to date. Thus about an eighth of the cards needed for about a million specimens have been written. Much of the work involved detailed cataloguing of collections that had been entered en masse, and collation with more than one Accessions Book.

1946-7 Besides adding to the collection of slides, she has added about 9,000 cards to the Regional Index and distributed about 3,500 written by the Curator, as well as entering a large number of accessions for the first time. ... Once again the Museum owes its thanks to Mr. G.E.S. Turner for his work on the arrangement and documentation of our older American Indian material.

1947-8 The University Surveyor has drawn plans for refitting the eastward wing of the old Geology Department adjoining the Curator’s room to serve as a library and reading-rooms, photographic studio, and offices for Demonstrators and the Librarian, and grants have been made to pay for the alterations and for photographic equipment. ... The rearrangement will also make it possible for us to devote a small room to the rapidly growing catalogue of the Museum and to the ever-increasing collection of lantern-slides, and make both more rapidly available for use, a matter of some importance in dealing with many inquiries which mingle with routine teaching. .... The Regional Index has grown to 170 cardboard drawers, and is increasing rapidly, so that we are now arranging for a supply of wooden cabinets with interchangeable drawers. During the year Miss Blackwood typed and distributed over 4,000 cards, and distributed another 4,000 typed by the Curator.

1948-9 The Curator and Miss Blackwood are happy to say that they have nearly completed the Regional Index of the Collections. Uniform wooden cabinets with about 200 drawers have been installed, and Miss Blackwood has arranged the cards in them. The room is being cleared, and other cabinets will be installed for a Subject Index, which we have now begun. At long last we have been able to get index cards thin enough to type in duplicate and stiff enough to stand in the drawers, so that current accessions for both catalogues can now be done in one operation. In the past year the Curator and Miss Blackwood have each typed about 4,000 descriptive cards, and at present the Curator is at work on five volumes of collations and on breaking up mass entries, while Miss Blackwood, assisted by Mr. G.E.S. Turner, is engaged on the main Subject Index. The completed catalogue will require an entire room, which the recent alterations have made available.

1949-50 The Regional Index now runs to over 200 boxes with between 200,000 and 250,000 cards, some of them still with mass entries, but the Curator has nearly finished collations between various old Accessions Books so that we are now fairly certain of how many objects of a kind we have. The Donors’ Index is completed regularly by the Curator. The Subject Index has grown to 50 boxes. Miss Blackwood typed and distributed about 12,000 cards for the Subject Index, brought both Regional and Subject Index up to date for the current year, and distributed about 4,000 cards of collations made by the Curator, and about 2,000 cards typed by Mr. G. E. S. Turner. In connexion with this work on the Subject Index, Mr. Turner has begun a systematic revision of our unassigned American Indian material. Over 50 specimens have so far been allotted to their culture areas or to definite tribes.

1950-1 The Regional Index now numbers about a quarter of a million cards, and the Subject Index on which we are now principally engaged, except for current accessions, has reached about 72,000 cards. Miss Blackwood is responsible for the arrangement, and this year has typed and distributed about 10,000 cards, apart from current accessions, and distributed about 4,000 which were typed by the Curator. The Curator also matched about 9,000 cards with coloured pictures of objects from Assam and Burma made by the late Mr. E.S. Thomas from the Hutton and Mills and other collections in the Museum, with cards already typed, putting on the correct references, so that the Regional Index now has a coloured picture card for nearly every object from Assam which arrived before 1936, and the Subject Index has a plain card.

1951-2 Besides organizing a considerable amount of the stored material to make it more available for teaching, and to make possible the rearrangement of the exhibited collections, the Curator has added 6,500 cards to the Subject Index, Miss Blackwood has added 3,000, apart from cards she prepared for both the Subject and the Regional Indexes from the present year’s accessions, and Mr. Brice has found time in his first year to add about 500. Miss Blackwood has been responsible as usual for the sorting and arranging of all cards in both indexes, which by now contain about 270,000 cards.

1952-3 In the Subject and Regional Indexes the curator has added 4,050 cards, and Miss Blackwood has added 2,000 in addition to the cards for both indexes from the current Accessions Books, and she has also distributed and arranged all of the cards typed this year. This brings the number of cards up to about 277,000. By the time we finish we hope to present the University with what scholars would call a good text, and scientists might describe as ample and accurate evidence.

1953-4 The Curator has added just over 5,000 cards to the Subject Index, and Miss Blackwood has added about 5,000 cards, as well as duplicate cards for both Regional and Subject Indexes dealing with this year's accessions. She has also distributed these cards under their subjects and regions. The number of cards in the Index has reached about 300,000, many of the cards dealing with groups of objects, though there is a very large number of cards describing one object only. Mr. Gurden and the Curator continued their visits to the basement of the Examination Schools to list and describe objects there, and Mr. Gurden has nearly completed the card catalogue of Room 3 dealing with stone implements. Some few visits will be needed to this and the other two rooms to deal with a hard core of recalcitrant material before we are free of this nightrnare, and can simply send anyone straight to any object without feeling the duty to go ourselves to help him. Work on the catalogue has so improved our knowledge of the collections that we can in the main confine accessions to new material, and especially, as opportunity arises, to objects of outstanding importance, and to collections giving a complete process or showing in full context the complete material culture of a people.

1954-5 During the year the Curator has added about 3.000 cards to the Subject Index, and Miss Blackwood has added about 5,600 both for the Subject Index and for the Regional Index for current accessions. Miss Blackwood has as usual been responsible for the distribution and arrangement of the cards, which now occupy 363 catalogue drawers and number well over 300,000.

1955-6 Friends of the Museum and of Miss Blackwood throughout the world will be glad to hear that the Visitatorial Board of the University has decided in favour of her retaining office for three years beyond 30 September I956, the date on which she would ordinarily have retired. Thus, instead of the dreaded and melancholy duty of writing an appreciation of her past services, the Curator can rejoice with his Staff, and all friends of the Museum, that she will continue her work here in teaching and research, and in dealing with the arrears in the Regional and Subject card indexes, now nearing the half-million mark. ... During the year the Curator has added about 2,600 cards to the Subject Index, and Miss Blackwood has added about 3,500, Miss Blackwood being as usual responsible for the distribution and arrangement of the cards. From the beginning of this year we have confined ourselves to arrears, apart from entering new accessions in the books, and have taken time for a good deal of revision and documentation in the light of what has been learned since the original entries were made. Mr. R. C. Gurden, with the help of Mr. A. Wootton, has been responsible for transferring the current accessions from the books to duplicate cards, one for the Regional, and one for the Subject index, each month, and for keeping up to date the indexes of donors, lenders, and vendors. The Curator has long wanted to establish this system, so that when the time comes for him to go, he can rest assured that the card catalogues will never fall into arrears, and as much as he can spare of his remaining time will be used in completing and perfecting as far as possible the card indexes of the older material. Mr. Gurden has also begun a card catalogue of the large Gunther collection of Japanese Netsuke, first arranging them in numerical order for easy consultation, and then amplifying and explaining the descriptions given in Gunther's lists with the help of Weber's Ko-ji Ho-ten, Brockhous's Netsukes, Jonas's Netsuke, Japanese Art and Handicraft by Joly and Tomita, Gunther's own manuscript articles, and other sources. While the Japanese names and allusions are perhaps sufficient for connoisseurs,' we have found that translations, brief accounts of religious and magical or mythological ideas or beliefs or folktales, or references to where they may be found in full, have added greatly to our own knowledge and interest, and are a help to persons desiring an explanation of particular pieces without taking up too much time. Should we ever be able to publish the collection, these additions would no doubt help to bring these delightful examples of Japanese art and ingenuity before a larger public. In spite of much other work, Mr. Gurden has found time to prepare duplicate cards for over 350 netsuke, and to continue the catalogue of objects in the basement of the Examination Schools, this last being a dreary but useful task. In addition to helping with the current accessions, Mr. Wootton has also found time to do duplicated cards for a good number of the Parsons collection of locks and keys.

1956-7 Throughout the year Museum work has proceeded steadily. Miss Blackwood typed and distributed over 5,000 cards and also distributed about I,700 typed by the Curator, all these being for early entries in the Accessions Books, many of them requiring some revision in the light of later knowledge. Mr. R. C. Gurden and Mr. A. Wootton dealt each month with the cards for current accessions by gift, purchase, or loan, and also kept the indexes of donors, vendors, and lenders up to date. Mr. Gurden has also completed about 500 detailed cards for the Gunther collection of Japanese netsuke, and has nearly finished the index of specimens in the Examination Schools, while Mr. Wootton has continued the index of the Parsons collection of locks and keys. While the work on arrears continues, Miss Blackwood is responsible for the distribution of cards and the general form of the Regional and Subject Indexes, especially the latter, as the determination of headings is often a headache in so large and varied a collection. As we are nearing the time when all collections and their cards will be arranged in the manner of a good reference library, we have determined at that time to put Mr. Gurden in charge of the catalogue, with Mr.Wootton to assist him and Mr. Gurden will be responsible for keeping the catalogue up to date each month, seeing that new accessions are put on cards and distributed. We can thus be certain that no claims of research or other academic duties will in future allow the catalogue to fall into arrears, and that no undue burden will fall on the more conscientious. Members of the academic staff and others will continue to make the original entries in the Accessions Books, but the uniform method of entry, the system of numbering by year, month, and serial number within the month, the division of labour in labelling and distributing, the labelling of cupboards, cabinets, and drawers, ensure that new accessions get into the catalogue quickly, and that errors can be corrected with reasonable expedition. ... We have already mentioned her considerable work in organizing the form of the Catalogue, and her contributions to it, work specially recognized by the Board of the Faculty of Anthropology and Geography and by the Visitatorial Board in prolonging her term of office beyond the retiring age. Since he started the card catalogue in I939, the Curator has relied on her daily perseverance, ability, and flair for organizing complex and varied material in a task that we knew from our first discussion would take many years, but which both of us regarded as the first essential for full use of the resources of a great Museum of international repute. The number of cards now is about 500,000.

1957-8 There was no pause in the work of cataloguing, exhibiting, and storing the collections. Miss Blackwood typed and distributed about 1,500 cards for the Subject Index, and distributed about 2,000 typed by the Curator, as well as about 1,100 cards done in duplicate, for both the Regional and Subject Indexes, these last including the year’s accessions, done by Mr. Wootton, and another 500 detailed cards of the Gunther collection of Japanese netsuke, prepared by Mr. R.C. Gurden, who also continued the Regional and Subject Indexes of specimens in the Examination Schools. Mr. Wootton has as usual been responsible for keeping the index of donors, vendors, and lenders up to date.
As there are now well over half a million cards, Miss Blackwood is preparing a hand-list of headings and sub-headings, which will itself be indexed in detail, so that those in charge of the catalogue will be able to ascertain quickly where to look for or to place any card. Apart from the difficulty of always knowing the habitat of a tribe or the various names by which it has been known or the position of an archaeological site, there is the much greater difficulty in the Subject Index of deciding under which heading to place many specimens which fit equally well into two or more sections, and this master-list is designed to avoid the necessity for a very large number of cross-references, which are apt to be confusing if too greatly multiplied. While making the hand-list, she is taking the opportunity to check each card to make sure that none is displaced and that the sub-divisions are suitable and adequate in the light of our experience in the use of the index. As time permits, she is going through the drawer containing cards for specimens without provenance. Many of these can be assigned at least to an approximate locality by comparison with photographs or specimens in this or other museums. Such work is time-consuming and unspectacular, but in the long run adds considerably to the accuracy of our records and so to the usefulness of the collections.