Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

PRM Documentation Part 3

Annual Report entries about museum documentation 1996-2005

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

1996-7 Museum Documentation and Records
It was, as usual, a busy year for the department’s three permanent members of staff, Marina de Alarcón, Julia Nicholson, and Jeremy Coote. They were assisted for much of the year by Nicolette Meister who returned to the Museum as a paid intern. The main focus of her work was the Museum’s collection of material from Captain Cook’s second great voyage of discovery, which the Museum is recataloguing as part of its ‘Cook project’ with funding from the South Eastern Museums Service and the University of Oxford’s Hulme Fund. Meister computerized the disparate records for the collection, surveyed the collection with the project’s specialist adviser Peter Gathercole, and collated related materials. The section is also grateful to Tristan Arbousse-Bastide who worked with Jeremy Coote on recataloguing some of the Museum’s collection of weapons from North Africa.
Alison Petch continued work on the project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, to research the Museum’s founding collection. The preparation of full computer records for all accessioned and previously unaccessioned objects donated by General Pitt Rivers was completed. This now comprises a large, comprehensive, computerized database that will facilitate future research into the collection as well as its day-to-day management. Work was begun on preparing publication of parts of the catalogue in various forms.
The records for the material collected by Beatrice Blackwood among the Arawe were computerized by Chantal Knowles as part of a research project on ‘Historical Change and Material Culture in Papua New Guinea’ also funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Additional information will be added as research progresses. Work on cross-referencing this database with that for the related photographic collections was also begun. ...
Archive Collections
Emma Dean left her post as Curatorial Assistant (Archive Collections) to move to a similar post at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. Christopher Morton, who was previously a graduate student at the Museum, was appointed as her replacement from September.
Much of the year was spent refining the organization in the new stores, and identifying specific cataloguing backlogs. Some inroads have been made but the situation remains serious. As part of ‘the Arawe project’ funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Chantal Knowles catalogued the outstanding Blackwood manuscript material and enhanced the documentation of much of the Blackwood photograph collection. Elizabeth Edwards worked on the Schomberg collection, Emma Dean on historical photographs of the Museum, and Chris Morton began work on the Nash collection from West Africa.
The section again benefited from the continuing work of volunteers Mrs Audrey Smith and Mrs Ruth Wickett. They completed work on the Penniman papers, and the final catalogue is being prepared. They also completed the sorting and cataloguing of a small collection of papers from Kenneth Oakley and undertook repair work on the Tylor papers. The department is also grateful to Caroline Hayes for continuing work on the Museum’s collection of American photographs and some of the European material, and to Rachel Miller for work on the Garrod collection. These volunteers did sterling work, but it is difficult to maximize their input, and indeed staff cataloguing initiatives, owing to lack of adequate computing facilities and support. ...
Sound and Music Archives
The accessioning and computer cataloguing of this area of the Museum’s collections has received little attention in the past. With the help of external funding, however, much progress was made during the year towards compiling a complete initial catalogue and carrying out some basic research. The Music Faculty’s sound library collections were listed and records for them added to the database. Father Damian Webb’s collection has been sorted and listed and missing material recovered from Ampleforth. The Claussen collection has been sorted, listed, and added to the computer database. This latter work was carried out by Tina Stoecklin, who also designed a Web page about the collection. ...
Musical Instrument Catalogue Project
Hélène La Rue reports that work on this major project continued steadily but slowly this year due to the demands on her time made by the necessity of bringing the Bate Collection’s database up to the standard of the Museum’s.

1997-8 Cataloguing
A number of substantial cataloguing projects were completed or significantly advanced during the year. The records for the Museum’s holdings of Cypriot archaeological material were updated and extended in collaboration with Professor Vassos Karageorghis of the Leventis Foundation in Cyprus. A previously unentered collection of Oceanic material formerly belonging to George Pitt Rivers was accessioned and catalogued. The records for the Museum’s holdings of firearms and related material were computerized and updated; in addition, all the material was numbered, labelled, bagged, and its storage improved.
There were a number of other areas for which records were computerized, including the Mary Kingsley collections, the Sarawak ikat textiles, the Kongo and Luba material from Central Africa, the Roscoe collections from the Bunyoro of Uganda, and an extensive collection of Arawe material, including that collected by Beatrice Blackwood. A keyword list of archaeological terms for use in the databases was developed and a glossary for use in cataloguing archaeological artefacts was produced.
A three-and-a-half year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust on the founding collection of the Museum reached its final stages. The outcome of this research, which has been carried out on behalf of the Museum by Alison Petch, was a full computerized catalogue of the collection, cross-referenced to all of General Pitt Rivers’s own publications. The research carried out for this project was also used as the basis for the Museum’s contribution to a major project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England in conjunction with the University of Kent, to show how multi-media can be used in the teaching of anthropology. This work was carried out by Alison Petch and Sandra Dudley.
The Museum’s sound database was extended to include all the wax-cylinder material in the collection. The previously separate, but related, music database has now been rendered entirely compatible with the main collections database and it is planned to integrate the two databases in due course. The files in the Sharp collection were interleaved with their contents listed and loaded on to the database.
In addition to work on new accessions, inroads were made into the cataloguing backlog in the photograph collections. Catalogues of the Nash collection and, thanks to volunteer assistance, of early Japanese and Chinese photographs were completed. Throughout the year work continued on ironing out imperfections in the archive collections’ databases.

With the appointment of Alison Petch to a new temporary, half-time, post of Registrar, it was possible to introduce a number of improvements to the Museum’s accessioning procedures. In addition, all recently acquired object collections were processed. With funding in the form of a grant from the Pilgrim Trust, Alison Petch also started work in January on a nine-month project to computerize the records for the objects transferred from the Ashmolean Museum to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1886. With funding from a Jerwood/Museums and Galleries Commission Cataloguing Grant, Jeremy Coote also began work in January on a one-year project to prepare a catalogue of the Forster collection, the Museum’s collection of artefacts from Captain Cook’s second voyage. In March, the project was selected by the Humanities Computing Development Team (of the Humanities Computing Unit at the Oxford University Computing Service) as a project for development in 1999–2000. This will enable the development of an on-line resource devoted to the collection. Records were computerized for a number of other collections, including the material collected by Beatrice Blackwood among the Anga; archaeological material from Cape Verde; the collections made by Barbara Freire-Marreco in the south-western United States; and the Tibetan collections.
Work continued on a number of longer-term cataloguing projects during the year. Marina de Alarcón continued her work on, and research into, the Museum’s holdings of Cypriot archaeological material. In connection with this project, Dr Evanthia Baboula of Lincoln College, Oxford studied the metalwork in the collection, which was also subjected to electron probe microanalysis by Dr Peter Northover of the Department of Materials. Marina de Alarcón also located, numbered, and catalogued the Museum’s collection of Southern African rock art and related materials. The Museum has an extensive collection of copies of southern African rock art, including a large number made by Louis Tylor in the late nineteenth century in the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu–Natal, as well as early twentieth-century photographs of paintings in South Africa and Zimbabwe, rubbings of rock engravings in the South African interior and tracings of paintings from Ntlo Kholo, Lesotho. Research into the history and significance of the collection was carried out by John Hobart under the supervision of Peter Mitchell, with funding from the James A. Swan Fund. Meanwhile, Jeremy Coote continued as official collaborator on ‘Systematic Studies of Isotopic Signals in Modern Humans and their Application to Palaeodietary Reconstruction’, a project being undertaken by Dr Tamsin O’Connell of the University of Oxford’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art. As part of his contribution to the project, and with the assistance of volunteer Meghan O’Brien, he located, numbered, and catalogued the Museum’s collection of hair samples. Minute samples from a selection of these were then subjected to isotopic analysis by Dr O’Connell.
Following completion of a project on the history and significance of the southern African Stone Age collections of the British Museum, Peter Mitchell has made a start on a comparable project within the Pitt Rivers Museum, building on the historical and biographical research already undertaken. The initial focus is the mid-nineteenth century collections from the Eastern Cape Province, which are among the earliest stone artefacts to have been recognized as such in southern Africa.
Progress with cataloguing the photographic and manuscript collections continued to be hampered by the acute staff limits. Photographic collections often need many months of careful and informed collation before cataloguing or documentation can even begin. Although new accessions are inventoried in as much detail as possible and catalogued and documented as soon as possible, it is impossible at present to tackle major backlogs. The situation has been exacerbated by the absorption into the photographic collections of historic lantern slides and related photographic material that had been used in teaching by Beatrice Blackwood and others. This all needs careful appraisal before any cataloguing work can begin. It should also be noted that the lack of a basic research library at 64 Banbury Road means that staff cataloguing time is not used as efficiently as it could be; a point that should give pause for thought before contemplating any wholesale transfer of the Balfour Library off the Museum’s main site.
Despite these problems, work has continued on streamlining the documentation. A retrospective numbering system, integrated with the accessioning system for objects, has been implemented after a successful pilot project. This has allowed easier retrieval and closer integration with the object collections. In conjunction with preparing material for loan to the Barbican, much work was done to enhance the documentation of the North American collections. Christopher Morton completed the catalogue of the Nash collection of photographs and began work on a full database for nineteenth- and early twentieth-century South African material. Gwyneira Isaac began work on the records for material from the southwest United States, while Elizabeth Edwards continued work—as time allowed—on the early Pacific photographs, especially the Wood and Acland collections. Good progress was also made on the locations index. Details of the Ettlinger, Jameson, Caton-Thompson, and Spencer Chapman manuscript collections were added to the database.

Work was completed or continued on a number of ongoing projects. Alison Petch’s work on a nine-month project, funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust, to computerize the records for the objects transferred from the Ashmolean Museum to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1886 was completed in September 1999. Jeremy Coote’s work on a one-year project, funded by a Jerwood/Museums and Galleries Commission Cataloguing Grant, to prepare a catalogue of the Forster collection (the Museum’s collection of artefacts from Captain Cook’s second voyage) was completed in December 1999; work on a publicly accessible on-line version continued throughout the year. Work on projects to publish catalogues of the Japanese and Cypriot archaeology collections also continued, as time allowed, through the year. Work on the Museum’s collection of copies of southern African rock art also continued and the opportunity was taken of visits by Aron Mazel of the South African Cultural History Museum and Val Ward of the Natal Museum to discuss the collections. Clare Harris and Marina de Alarcón continued their work on the computerization and documentation of the Tibetan and Himalayan collections. Important work was done on the documentation of the Japanese music collections by Dr Henry Johnson, a senior academic visiting scholar from Otago University, New Zealand.
Among important house-keeping projects was the processing of reserve collections held in the old lighting store and the ‘green shed’ (the old lecture room). Conservation and documentation staff processed more than 600 lamps and related material, all of which was documented, numbered and tagged, conserved, and removed to improved storage conditions in the main museum or Osney as appropriate. Documentation staff also made significant advances in recording locations for many of the objects stored in the museum. The important wax-cylinder recordings made by Northcote Thomas were taken to the British Library for digitalization.
However, the major advance of the year was undoubtedly the work carried out by the team of cataloguers that the Museum has been able to employ with the grant provided by the Designation Challenge Fund (DCF). It seems likely that the aim of completing the computerization of the records for all the Museum’s acquisitions (excepting those in the special collections) will be accomplished by the end of the two-and-a-half year project. This is an extremely exciting and important project and represents a major advance. It is difficult to know whether to be moved more by pleasure at its accomplishment or by regret at how profound a difference quite modest amounts of additional funding can make to the Museum’s functioning.
For the photograph collections, too, the DCF project has had a major impact. Good progress has been made in transferring the manual handlists to the computer database. In preparation for this work the existing database was thoroughly ‘cleaned’ and standardized and a new instruction manual prepared. Together these developments have significantly enhanced the access and research potential of the collection. Work on other small collections has also been completed and work has begun on preparing a collections-level listing for first reference, which it is hoped will be available on-line in the near future. A very generous donation from Sir Wilfred Thesiger has enabled a major programme to digitalize his collection. Two major sections, Arabia and East Africa, are already complete and work continues on the rest of the collection. It is anticipated that it will be completed early in the next reporting year. This will enhance access and protect the originals of a very popular and important collection. In the manuscript collections, the listing of the Blackwood Papers has been completed and a collections-level listing prepared for on-line use. The database for the Museum’s music collections was made publicly available at a terminal at the University’s Bate Collection.

The fifth strand of current activity lies in two projects supported by the Designation Challenge Fund (DCF), at a combined total of some £100,000 a year. Now in its third and final year, this immensely welcome grant is expected to enable the transfer on to electronic database of the entirety of the primary existing records for the Museum’s artefact and photographic collections. The Museum owes a great debt to Alison Petch, employed as Registrar for the duration of the project, and to the team entering the data, who between them have exceeded the most optimistic of the goals set at the start of the project. Quite soon, the entirety of the collections’ records, with their weighty documentation, will also be available on-line through the Museum’s web site. A taste of what can be achieved once collections are fully computerized was provided by the launch of the Museum’s web site devoted to the Forster collection, assembled on Captain Cook’s second voyage and perhaps the single most important collection held by the Museum. Organized by Jeremy Coote, with the support of the Humanities Computing Development Team at the University’s Computing Service, this web site offers a new and rich way of consulting the collections, and has already become the basis of a further grant application to extend it in innovative ways. In all such projects, the Museum owes much to the technical knowledge, and calmness, of the Museum’s ICT Officer, Haas Ezzet.
.. Cataloguing
As in the previous year, the major advance was undoubtedly the work carried out by the team of cataloguers that the Museum has been able to employ with the grant provided by the Designation Challenge Fund (DCF). The total number of new computer records created during the year was 58,577. It now seems likely that the original aim of completing the computerization of the records for all the Museum’s acquisitions with the exception of the special collections will be exceeded by the end of the two-and-a-half year project, and that the records for the special collections will also be processed. This represents a major advance that is already proving beneficial to many aspects of the Museum’s collections management and research work and to its ability to assist researchers working on its collections. Museum staff are now developing a staged project to carry out a complete inventory of the collections. This would have seemed like a pipe-dream only a few years ago, but has now taken the form of an achievable aim.
... Over the past few years, a number of members of the Museum staff have refocused their research on the Museum’s collections. This refocus is reflected in the increasing number of publications on the Museum and its collections. It is not possible to detail all such work here, but a few examples will give an idea of the range of the work being carried out.
A prime example of the work being carried out on the collections is the new web site devoted to the Forster Collection of Pacific artefacts from Captain Cook’s second famous voyage of discovery. This was launched on 27 February at a party hosted jointly by the Museum and the Humanities Computing Development Team (HCDT) of the Humanities Computing Unit at Oxford University Computing Services, who have been the Museum’s partners in the project. Building on collections management and research work carried out since 1996 by Jeremy Coote and a former intern, Nicolette Meister, the site provides access to a comprehensive illustrated catalogue of the collection, while also providing information about the collectors and the history of the collection, an archive of related documents, and links to other on-line resources. It is intended regularly to update the site and to seek to develop it further as time and funds allow. The Museum is grateful for the grants it has received for its ‘Cook’ project from the Hulme University Fund, the South Eastern Museums Service, and the Jerwood/MGC Cataloguing Grants Scheme 1997–1998 (supported by the Museums & Galleries Commission, the Jerwood Foundation, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). The Museum is also indebted to Peter Gathercole who, in his role of external specialist adviser, has been vital to the success of the project. Work on this historically complex collection has continued since the launch of the web site; additional information generated by this continuing work will be added to the site’s databases from time to time.

2001-2 In the realm of collections management and ICT, we saw the close of the final year of the grant from the Designation Challenge Fund, and two major achievements. First, the process of computerizing all the Museum’s primary accession records was completed (very considerably exceeding the targets we had set ourselves), and the new database was brought online through the redesigned Museum web site. ...
The Museum’s retrospective computerization programme, funded by the Resource/DCMS Designation Challenge Fund, was completed this year. All the data from the Museum’s original accessions books, recording donations, purchases, and loans since the Museum was founded in 1884, has now been transferred on to the computerized databases. The success of this project has revolutionized the Museum’s ability to provide rapid and detailed answers to visitors’ enquiries on the collections, and to record new information on them more efficiently. The programme exceeded all the targets set in terms of time and quantity: nearly 200,000 new entries were made over the two-and-a-half years of the project, and more than 100,000 existing entries were enhanced.
The completion of this project allowed the Museum to take a major step forward by making its databases available online in January 2002. Thus this essential information on the collections became instantly available for research to virtual visitors around the world. The feedback from users has been extremely positive, and this initiative has undoubtedly contributed to the significant increase in use of the Museum’s web site. Evaluation of the databases by a range of users has provided information that will enable their user-friendliness to be improved during the next reporting year.
Work continued on recataloguing a number of important collections throughout the year. Dr Sarah Milliken continued her work on the Museum’s extensive Egyptian Palaeolithic collections with a view to their publication in 2003. Towards the end of the reporting year, Dr Anne Haour and Mr Chris Wingfield began work on a project, funded by a grant from the James A. Swan Fund, focused on the Museum’s extensive Southern African stone artefact collections. This project, which continued into the next reporting year, has two major components: the reordering and repacking of the collections themselves, with the concomitant checking and updating of the computerized records, and extensive documentary research on the history of the collections and the collectors. A further project, funded by a small grant from the British Academy, to enhance the records for the Museum’s collection of artefacts from the Luo of Kenya was also begun at the end of the year. This work is being carried out by Gilbert Oteyo, under the supervision of Jeremy Coote, and will be reported on next year.
Major inroads were made into the backlog of cataloguing that needs to be done in the photograph and manuscript collections. Much of this has been made possible by small amounts of funding that have enabled the employment of short-term contract staff to address the backlog collection by collection. Chris Morton completed a catalogue of Robert Hottot’s photographic collection, Meghan O’Brien completed an inventory of the Peter Rivière collection, and Krystyna Cech completed a catalogue of the Staunton material from Tibet. Progress has also been made on cataloguing collections from China, New Zealand, and the Pacific. These developments demonstrate what can be achieved in concentrated bursts with relatively minor funding. Research has been intrinsic to all these cataloguing projects, enhancing knowledge of the photograph collections, not only in terms of the content of the images but also in terms of their history of production and consumption. The availability of the database online has made a major impact with a generally broader usage of the collections as potential research visitors have the opportunity to explore the catalogues at their leisure.
In total, there were 21,122 new entries added to the Museum’s object database during the year, together with 122,707 significant enhancements to existing records. In addition, 11,490 new entries were added to the photograph database, together with 50,496 significant enhancements to existing records. Of the total number of enhancements made to the two databases, 119,582 were by members of the Designation Challenge Fund project team.

2002-3 Cataloguing
With the successful completion of the DCF-funded retrospective cataloguing programme during the previous year, staff and visitors had for the first time the luxury of being able to access all the Museum’s primary records on the computerized databases, versions of which are also available online. During the current year a number of improvements were made to the design and utility of the databases and to the online facility. During the year, 4,635 new entries were added to the databases (2,454 object records and 2,181 photograph records), the majority of these relating to
new accessions. An enormous number of enhancements were made to individual records: 233,597 in total (229,271 to object records and 4,326 to photograph records). This exceptional figure is due in large part to the work on the object records carried out by Alison Petch as part of the ESRC-funded ‘Relational Museum’ project.
Work continued on re-cataloguing a number of collections throughout the year. Sarah
Milliken continued her work on the Museum’s extensive Egyptian Palaeolithic collections, which has resulted in the identification and numbering of some 1,500 stone tools of which some 1,200 will be included in her catalogue (to be published in the next reporting year). This work was supported by the efforts of volunteer Susan Wales. During the summer of 2002, Anne Haour and Chris Wingfield reordered and repacked the Museum’s collections of stone tools and related material from Southern Africa. With the support of a grant from the James A. Swan Fund, they also carried out background research into the history of the collections and their collectors, with a particular focus on the work of E. J. Dunn. Some enhancement of the Museum’s database records was also carried out, but further work will be necessary to number individually each of the 7,000+ stone tools and update each record accordingly. It is hoped to make progress with this work during the next reporting year.
With the help of a British Academy small grant, awarded to Jeremy Coote, Gilbert Oteyo carried out a detailed analysis of the Museum’s holdings of body ornaments from the Luo people of Kenya. His detailed analyses have been loaded on to the database and form the basis for ongoing research.
Inroads were made into the photographic collections backlog with some large sections
being catalogued and imported into the databases. The employment of a Student Assistant to assist the Curatorial Assistant in the day-to-day running of the collection and provision for research visitors has made a real difference, allowing precious staff time to be expended more usefully. Improvements to the photograph collection database continued, and a start was made on documenting the collection of lantern slides.
In a new development, the process of adding to the object database treatment reports for
objects that have undergone interventive conservation was begun. This is already making information retrieval easier for conservation staff and making additional information available to collections staff.

2003-4 Cataloguing
Work continued on recataloguing a number of important collections throughout the year. Much of this work was carried out as part of externally funded research projects and is reported on under the heading of ‘Research and Scholarship’. In addition, thanks to funding from the James A. Swan Fund, the Museum was able to employ Laura Phillips to recatalogue the important Edward Dunn collection of stone tools and
related ethnographic material from Southern Africa. The Museum is grateful to volunteer Susan Wales for her continuing contribution to its work, which this year focused on transcribing letters and other documents relating to the stone tools donated to the Museum by James A. Swan. This work continued into the next reporting year and will be more fully reported on there. For the first time, the photograph and manuscript department has a full-time assistant with the appointment of Jocelyn Dudding as Senior Curatorial Assistant. This has enabled the department to open to visiting scholars an extra day per week, spreading the increasing load on research facilities, as well as allowing major inroads to be made into the cataloguing backlog. This work was aided by the secondment of a photographic technician from photographic services to the curatorial department.
Inventory catalogues of the Rivière and Posey collections were completed. The
cataloguing of the Michael Aris collection was also completed (funded by the Aris Trust). Work on the Crocker-Jones and Meinhard collections progresses well. Work on the general backlog and ‘mystery boxes’ has revealed some treasures, including Henry Balfour’s original field notebooks, drawings, and negatives made during his 1922–3 visit to Nagaland. Some collections that exist only as negatives have been digitally scanned, giving full access to them for the first time. Much of this work has run in tandem with the cataloguing work. The Thesiger Cataloguing Project made astonishing progress, creating more than 48,000 records in the course of the year, though these are yet to be incorporated into the photograph database and are not included in the figures given below. The Evans-Pritchard photographs have been re-catalogued as part of the AHRB Sudan Project and work has started on the Tibetan photograph collections, also AHRB funded.
In total, 2,677 new entries were added to the object database during the year, together
with 18,920 enhancements. In addition, there were 18,117 new entries added to the photographic database this year, together with 4,561 enhancements. These figures show a fall in the creation and enhancement of object records due to the ending of the DCF 4–5 ‘Court Project’ and less records-focused work by staff working on the ‘Relational Museum’ project. The figures for the photograph and manuscript database show an increase in new entries reflecting the work of the Tibet Visual History pilot project and the efforts of the Senior Curatorial Assistant. These figures emphasize how much the Museum’s permanent records benefit from externally funded project work. It should not be forgotten that this work is of immediate public benefit, as all the records are made available online.

2004-5 Cataloguing
Work continued on recataloguing a number of important collections throughout the year. Much of this work was carried out as part of externally funded research projects and is reported on below under the heading ‘Research and Scholarship’. In addition, thanks to support from the James A. Swan Fund in 2003-4, the Museum was able to employ Laura Phillips to complete her recataloguing of the important Edward Dunn collection of stone tools and related ethnographic material from Southern Africa.
During the year significant work was undertaken on improving and updating the
photograph and manuscript databases, as well as on addressing the backlog of uncatalogued photographs. For example, the collections of Reginald Schomberg, Mary Durham, Ernest Emley, and the Museum’s 1930s ‘C Series’ were catalogued. In addition, the project supported by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, former President of the United Arab Emirates, to catalogue Thesiger’s collections came to an end in December 2004, and the resulting 52,700 record entries were added to the photograph database. Thanks to support from William Delafield, the results of this project were publicly displayed in the exhibition Wilfred Thesiger’s Iraq 1949–1958: Photographs of Travel at Lacock Abbey (August to October 2004) and the Pitt Rivers Museum (January 2005 to March 2006). A number of amendments were made to the databases during the year. In particular, it was decided to replace the unwieldy ‘Notes’ field on both the object and photograph databases with a number of separate fields devoted to, among other things, primary documentation, display history, and publication history. Efforts to retrospectively amend the existing records to take account of these changes were begun this year but will continue for some time. More generally, 3,920 new entries were added to the database for the object collections during the year, while 39,683 enhancements were made to the records. At the same time, 55,959 new entries were added to the database for the photograph collections, while 46,142 enhancements were made to the records. The large number of new records on the photograph collections database is due in large part to the importation of the records for
the Thesiger collection. The total number of records on the two main databases now stands at 204,011 for objects and 119,247 for photographs. The large number of enhancements on both databases is due to a number of factors, including the ‘splitting’ of the ‘Notes’ field, the work carried out by the DCF-funded ‘What’s Upstairs?’ team, and—last, but not least—the sterling efforts of many members of staff to continually improve (or ‘clean’) the records for the benefit of Museum staff, visiting researchers, and the wider public who, of course, continue to have access to the online versions of the databases. These figures do not, however, include all the work carried out this year on externally funded projects, much of which was carried out on ‘clone’ databases that will, however, be incorporated into the main databases in due course.

Work continued on re-cataloguing a number of important collections throughout the year. Much of this work was carried out as part of externally funded research projects and is reported on below under the heading ‘Research and Scholarship’.
In total, 42,325 enhancements were made to the objects database; this is an increase of 6.7% on the previous year when 39,683 enhancements were made. Almost 50% of these were made by the Museum’s registrar Alison Petch in her regular ‘cleaning data’ work. In addition, 1,189 new entries were added during the year. This is a significantly lower figure than the 3,920 in the previous year, reflecting the lower number of new accessions during the year, which is in itself a consequence of the disruptions caused by the building works. An exceptional 229,895 enhancements were made to the photograph database during the year, five times the 46,142 made in the previous year. This large number is a result of the extensive ‘cleaning’ work carried out by Jocleyne Dudding as she brought this database much closer into line with the object database. In addition, 7,611 new entries were added during the year (in fact, 8,011 new entries partially offset by the deletion of 1,400 superseded entries). This is a much lower figure than the 55,959 in the previous year, which was however an unusually large figure consequent upon the incorporation of the high number of new entries produced during the Thesiger project. Overall, the figures for new entries and enhancements can be expected to fluctuate significantly from year to year as a result of the unpredictablility of new acquisitions and the major impacts of externally funded research projects.
A good deal of cataloguing work in the photograph collections continued to be carried out under the auspices of the ‘Southern Sudan’ project; this work being responsible for the majority of the new entries and some 1,200 enhancements during the year. Continuing work on the collections in the ‘Tibet’ project is not yet reflected in the figures provided above as the records will not be incorporated into the main database until the end of the project in October 2006. In addition, in preparation for the removal of the collections to the new extension, a major project was carried out to record the precise shelf and drawer location for every item in the collections. This work will make the move enormously more efficient and safe than it would have been otherwise and, of course, has in the meantime increased the accessibility of the collections as a whole.