Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

More about the 'Objects from Oxfordshire' database

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

One of Oxfordshire Museum Services's Oxfordshire Waggons 1964.1833

One of Oxfordshire Museum Services's Oxfordshire Waggons 1964.1833

Access the database that contains data on all the objects from Oxfordshire in the Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxfordshire Museums Service here.

The Pitt Rivers Museum [PRM], as part of the research project 'The Other Within', decided to concentrate some of the research on the collections from Oxfordshire. Not only was Oxfordshire the most represented county in the collections, but it is also the home county of the Museum itself. It was decided to concentrate on the ethnographic collections from the county, not only are these interesting in their own right but they are also the largest collection of English ethnographic objects from one county as well. There is more information about the specific types of objects included in this database here.

As part of this research, Alison Petch looked further at the PRM database entries for Oxfordshire, refining them and preparing them for the web so that interested parties could find out what the objects were in our collections. She also talked to Phil Platt, the social history curator of Oxfordshire Museums Service [OXCMS] and Alison Roberts of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum [AM].[1] These three museums hold the largest collections of Oxfordshire ethnographic or social history collections in the county, and probably in the country. They all agreed that it would be extremely interesting both for the museums and for scholars and the general public, to see all three collections together and be able to search a joint database. All the objects from Eynsham, for example, would be able to retrieved in one search.

It would not be possible to provide all the data about the objects in one joint database of this kind for a number of practical reasons, but this database gives enough information for people to get an idea of the range of objects from each place, or where types of objects were collected, and they can contact the home museum to find out more information if required.

Each entry gives the following information for each object (if known):

  • Museums accession number:
  • Oxfordshire town or village name
  • PRM class for objects (this field is completed for all objects, no matter which museum the object originates from)
  • PRM keyword for objects (for PRM objects only)
  • OXCMS simple name (for OXCMS objects only)
  • OXCMS full name (for OXCMS objects only)
  • Ashmolean name (for AM objects only)
  • Number of objects included in entry
  • Time period
  • Names of individuals associated with objects
  • Description of object
  • Museum of origin

However, it was not possible to coordinate all this information within the timescale available. The PRM and OXCMS data was examined and cleaned and is available, but (despite much effort by Alison Roberts and her volunteers) it was not possible to complete the Ashmolean data in time. The only Ashmolean Musuem social history items for which data was forthcoming was for the brass rubbings. If it is possible, further data will be added as it becomes available.

Notes for the live database :

1. Note that all the individuals associated with each artefact are conflated into one field, thus all the data regarding the field collectors, other owners and PRM sources (as they would be known by the PRM) and similar categories of individuals (by OXCMS and and the Ashmolean) have been moved into one field

2. The time period selected for the brass rubbings from the Ashmolean are the dates when the brass rubbings themselves were produced, the date in the description field is the date for the brass.


[1] Alison Petch is grateful to both Phil Platt and Alison Roberts for their hard work in preparing this data. She is particularly grateful to Alison who had to do this at an exceptionally busy time when she was preparing for the new antiquities displays at the Ashmolean Museum.

More about Oxfordshire Waggons here.