Tag Archives: Penn Museum collections

Automation in action

Maureen: Digitization is iterative. There was a time that every institution with a desktop scanner and a work-study student was scanning every item they could lay their hands on like kids in candy stores, and throwing them up onto the web without thinking much about the user experience. Now that we’re at a point of […]

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When you’re feeling down…

It’s been a week chock-full of crazy here in the archives (my woo-woo friends tell me that Mercury is retrograde, plus it’s been a full moon. If that means anything).  Sometimes, when I’m having a hard day, I go through our database and just try to find cute photos.  So here we are.

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Stela! Steeeeeeeela! (Can’t you hear me yella?)

You’re puttin’ me through Hella! Well, okay, Maya stelae are possibly less immediately dramatic than either Tennessee Williams or the Simpsons. And sure, it’s a different word with a different pronunciation. But the stone monuments in our Meso-American gallery might be my favorite part of walking into the archives in the morning. There’s something about […]

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Summer Vacation

Ah, our lantern slide collection. A cornucopia of preservation problems and cataloging head-scratchers. Here’s a sunny image for a rainy day here in Philadelphia: Sometimes working in the archives is like being a contestant on “What in the World?” We’re not experts in any one area, and it’s difficult to figure out what’s happening in […]

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Marvelous Monday Archaeologist of the Week – Tatiana Proskouriakoff

I don’t know much about Maya hieroglyphs, but I do know that Tatiana Proskouriakoff was, by every measure, a badass. Proskouriakoff was born in Tomsk, Siberia, the daughter of aristocrats. The family traveled to the United States in late 1915, when her father was sent to supervise the manufacture and sale of weapons to Russia. […]

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Fire, Water, and the Closing of the Frontier

If you ever want to make a genealogist cry (no judgment here — that could be an entertaining time), just mention the 1890 United States census. It was a victim of destiny and bureaucrats, first damaged in a fire in 1921 and later destroyed by bone-headed paper pushers in 1933. The first census to use […]

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More snakes than Indiana Jones

While preparing for an upcoming presentation, I am finally taking a close look at the museum’s amazing film collection.  Though digitized and made available online in 2007-2008 by the Internet Archive,  the 675 reels of 16mm film are simply too much material for casual browsing.  Spending time with the films, however, is worth it. Comprised […]

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Processing the Satterthwaite Caracol Collection

Earlier this week I spent some time working on the collections of Linton Satterthwaite relating to the archaeological investigations in Caracol, Belize. The expeditions, in 1951 and 1953, were primarily focused on the salvage and documentation of stelae, the large carved monuments erected by the ancient Maya to commemorate rulers or historic events. They recovered […]

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The Ainu People and an Early Anthropological Friendship Across an Ocean

Given this rhetoric, and the colonial relationship between the Japanese government and the Ainu peoples, it is not surprising that their culture was not well studied for many years. In 1900, however, a traveler from Philadelphia, Hiram Hiller, took a detour from his pan-Asian journeys to visit Hokkaido. He met Jenichiro Oyabe, a Japanese man who was educated as a missionary, but who became a self-trained ethnographer of the Ainu people.

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