Progress Report 5: September 2011 - April 2012

White Horse Uffington drawn by ?Pitt-Rivers, National Archives, Pitt-Rivers notebooks WOR14 page 122

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

The final year of the project began at the beginning of September 2011. During this year the core project team intends to concentrate on writing the project monograph, and also complete other outcomes.

Alison investigated the Pitt-Rivers' workbooks WORK 39/1-16 held by the National Archives, copies of which can be downloaded here, and added content to this website from the workbooks where this seemed appropriate. Rather to her surprise there was a section relating to the photography course taken by Tomkin, discussed here, which alluded to the photography of objects which was extremely relevant to the consideration of why the CUL catalogue of the second collection was so well illustrated.

Jeremy started his year of working on the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project 'full-time'. He concentrated on ensuring that he was familiar with all the necessary reading in September and October whilst also thinking about the overall shape of the monograph and the draft proposal to the prospective publisher, drafting future applications to obtain grants further the research, and preparing text for Sue Johnson's 2012 exhibition etc etc.

During September and October 2011 Alison worked on a number of different aspects of final writing-up. She drafted two /three publications (which may be published by the Pitt Rivers Museum) of some of Pitt-Rivers's seminal works together with one (or possibly two) volumes of selected writings by others about Pitt-Rivers in his publications. Aside from Bowden's biography there have been few full-length publications about Pitt-Rivers recently and many of the shorter publications by the project team and others are disseminated through a myriad of sources. It would be helpful to museum visitors and today's scholars to make these publications more accessible. It is also believed that there would be a market for a publication of Pitt-Rivers writings, tentatively titled 'Evolution, Material Culture and Museums'. This should hopefully include two lectures by him which have never been published before which are held by the Salisbury and Wiltshire Museum Pitt-Rivers papers. The contents of all these volumes need to be considered in much more detail and also discussed with the original publishers / copyright holders before the final decision to publish can be taken. Further progress on these publications may not be possible before the end of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project, because of other priorities.

In addition, Alison drafted the first rough draft of the monograph based upon her research and arranged in sequence to fit the overall shape of the monograph agreed with Jeremy. This was considered in detail by Jeremy and Alison and Jeremy agreed how the re-writing and addition material should be structured and written. Jeremy began work on the draft chapter for the publishers.

Alison also drafted papers with Jeremy for the Journal of the History of Collections, the Journal of Museum Ethnography, and Pacific Arts and African Arts. It is hoped that all of these papers can be completed in the remaining months together with the monograph.

Sue Johnson's second exhibition of works related to Cambridge University Library's catalogue of Pitt-Rivers' second collection opened on 24 January 2012. The booklet for Sue Johnson' exhibition was written by Jeremy Coote with Sue. It is lavishly illustrated with Sue's paintings and is for sale in the museum shop. Sue travelled from America to attend the exhibition's official opening, which was also attended by a wide cross-section of Sue's and RPR associates. The exhibition has featured as one of the Oxford Times' highlights of the week. It is possible to purchase copies of Sue's images, see here.

Whilst Sue was in England, Jeremy, Alison and Sue travelled to Cambridge University Library to examine the 9 volumes of the catalogue in detail. They were fortunate enough to be offered work space where they could discuss the volumes in the manuscripts reading room, which enabled them to make several new discoveries about the illustrations. Jeremy and Alison intend to carry out one last trip to see the volumes where they hope to have the advice of CUL conservation staff about how the volumes were constructed (whether the drawings were done on separate sheets of paper and then bound, or drawn into already bound books).

Jeremy Coote has been in regular contact with Anthony Pitt-Rivers throughout the project, he has been very helpful in loaning and donating Pitt-Rivers' related material.  He donated a large number of workbooks of Pitt-Rivers, notes of his reading, and other interesting scholarly notebooks. Amongst these, the project team was most excited to find the earliest documentation for the founding collection that has been identified to date--a list of the weapons collections as at August 1862, he also donated two new photographic portraits of his ancestor. He loaned three photo albums of the Rushmore estate and Farnham Museum. The project team is profoundly grateful to Anthony Pitt-Rivers for his generosity in loaning and donating items to the museum for the project team to examine.

The Cambridge University Library manuscript department scanned and sent copies of the library catalogue for Pitt-Rivers, which is very useful for seeing what works he read and was influenced by.

It is hoped that a second project workshop will be arranged and held between January and June 2012, its theme is still uncertain.

The project was exceedingly lucky to get 3 new volunteers / interns to work with the project:

Venya da Silva, a M.Phil student from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology who helped proofread and also began research on a collection of Sri Lankan figures from the founding collection.

Kathy-Anne Hughes (known as Gabrielle) a Rhodes Scholar in Art History, who helped complete the proofreading and who began research on the Canadian objects in the founding collection, specifically two model canoes.

Martha Ellis Leach from the History of Art Department undertook to look at the the Pitt-Rivers family art catalogue.

An old volunteer very kindly resumed work for the project in her final year. Rachel McGoff researched into the Oriental collections of Pitt-Rivers, which will the subject of her third year undergraduate thesis and also (hopefully) will prepare several web pages for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers website.

Peter Rivière continued to do interesting research which will be disseminated via the website.

AP October 2011-March 2012

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