Progress 4: April - August 2011

B403 Copyright S&SWM PR papers

This progress report records activity during this six month period of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project.

On 14-15 April 2011 the Museum Ethnographers Group annual conference was held at the Pitt Rivers Museum organized on the group's behalf by Alison Petch and Jeremy Coote. The meeting was very successful, an account can be read here and here. Much of the discussion at the conference was extremely relevant for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project.

On 5 May 2011 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum [S&SWM] loaned the Pitt-Rivers papers in their collections to the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford in order to help research. The project team is most grateful to Adrian Green, the Museum's Director, and Jane Ellis-Schon for their support and to the Trustees for agreeing the loan. The papers were first researched and partially transcribed for this site (see primary documents in menu to the right) by Alison Petch. Rachel McGoff then scanned the manuscript collection starting with the L[etter] series and moving on to the B series. Loredana Burt kindly volunteered to transcribe the Thompson catalogue of the Pitt Rivers papers from S&SWM (effectively the full catalogue relating to the P & B series).

The S&SWM PR papers are a wonderful resource and have greatly enhanced the research work. Transcription, scanning, cataloguing and research took about three months of full-time work (and 3 people) to complete as there are over four thousand letters and many documents to read and digest, copy and cross-reference. Please note that this collection is not closed to other research visitors but all approaches to see the Pitt Rivers papers must, in the first instance, be directed at the S&SWM via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Telephone: + 44 (0)1722 332151. This work was coincidentally completed on the last day of August 2011.

On 9-10 May 2011 Jeremy Coote attended the Mellon Foundation funded Sawyer seminar series on 'Human Creativity: ecologies and practices of invention', 2010/2011. Professor Chris Gosden (Oxford, Institute of Archaeology, co-PI for Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project) and Sarah Whatmore coordinated a series of activities and events involving international visiting scholars and Oxford academics from philosophy to neuroscience working collectively through the mediations of 'objects' selected from the University's museum collections. Again this work fed into the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project.

In May 2011 discussions began regarding the Museums and Galleries Histories Group's 2012 conference which may be held at the Pitt Rivers Museum and organized by Jeremy Coote and Alison Petch, again on a theme close to the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers research. After some discussion it was mutually agreed that it would not be worthwhile the Rethinking team organizing the conference for MGHG as it would constrict the topic of discussion and cause much extra work during the final year of the project when Jeremy and Alison would be hard at work producing the monograph based on the first two year's research. However, the Rethinking team intend to hold at least one or two more invitee-only workshops about the art of cataloguing and other themes during the final year.

The project's student volunteers (Rachel, Jasmine and Jozie) continued to work on the project, completing (hopefully) the proof-reading of the catalogue transcriptions. Rachel, a final-year undergraduate at Hertford College in 2011-12 is going to base her final thesis on the Pitt-Rivers collections, concentrating on the Asian component.

Chris Morton wrote up his research into the photographic collections of Pitt-Rivers, see the relevant web pages on this website under Articles.

Katharine Burt finished the herculean task of typing again Bill Chapman's 1981 thesis, Ethnology in the Museum, now available via the RPR website [see menu on the right]. We are very grateful to her for her hard work over several months and to Bill for allowing the thesis to be made available in this way.

Dan Burt was finally able to start implementing a large series of additions and changes to the website from May 2011 including a revamp of the databases and an additional (passworded) catalogue for the art collection.

Several new object biographies were written or solicited from researchers in contact with the project including Yannis Galanakis of the Ashmolean Museum, Lucy Shipley of the University of Southampton and Marion Uckelmann of Exeter University. The project team is very grateful to all the contributors to the site for associated researchers.

Alison Petch and Jeremy Coote, May 2011 - August 2011.

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