20. Report of the Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum (Department of Ethnology and Prehistory) for the year ending 31 July 1964
Curator: B.E.B. Fagg, M.A., Lincoln College.
University Lecturers: A.J. Butt, B.Litt., M.A., D.Phil., Lady Margaret Hall; K.O.L. Burridge, M.A., Exeter College (Ethnology); D.F.W. Baden-Powell, M.A., Oriel College; D. Britton, M.A., Queen’s College (Prehistory).
Secretary and Librarian: H.P.G. Unsworth.
Assistant Secretary-Librarian: Miss E. Torr.
Technical and General: K.H. Walters (Principal Technician); R.P. Rivers, R.W. Sword, R.T. Lambert (Technicians); F.J. Nipress, Mrs. M.E. Fowler.

The University of Oxford has acknowledged its sense of gratitude to the retiring Curator, Mr. T.K. Penniman, by conferring on him the title of Curator Emeritus for his outstanding services as Head of the Department of Ethnology and Prehistory and Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Mr. T.K. Penniman, M.A., of Trinity College, was elected to succeed the late Professor Henry Balfour in 1939. Professor Balfour’s death had followed a protracted and painful illness, which had prevented him during the last few years of his life from documenting completely the expanding collections. Inheriting the daunting problem of identifying, cataloguing, and indexing a considerable proportion of the collection, Mr. Penniman with characteristic thoroughness reduced chaos to order and, moreover, succeeded in improvising accessible storage for the research and reserve collections under unusually difficult conditions.

Two of his most notable achievements in his twenty-four years of office were the development of the Department of Ethnology and Prehistory from a professional staff of two to the present establishment of five and the foundation of the excellent series of Occasional Papers on Technology.

In his report on the Pitt Rivers Museum Sir Thomas Kendrick paid handsome tribute to the work of Penniman and said ‘only his successor will really be able to appreciate the magnitude and thoroughness of the curator’s achievement’. I take this opportunity to confirm the accuracy of this prophecy and to declare how exacting a standard his successors will be required to emulate.

Mr. Penniman deputized for the newly appointed Curator during his first three months of office and handed over the collections, records, and services on 1 January 1964. Since that time he has come regularly to the museum and has been of the greatest possible help in assisting and guiding his successor. The new Curator was delighted to find that he had inherited from Mr. Penniman a loyal and efficient staff who share his determination to work towards an early realization of the project to rebuild the Pitt Rivers Museum on a new site and in a manner worthy of its unrivalled collections.

Mr. Penniman was re-elected to the Board of Management of the Griffith Egyptological Fund and the Committee of Management of the Griffiths Institute.

Once again the Curator has pleasure in acknowledging the debt which the Pitt Rivers Museum owes to Miss Beatrice Blackwood, who continues her invaluable work as if she were still a permanent member of the staff of the museum. Her most notable contribution this year has been the preparation of an analysis of the various special catalogues made since the foundation of the museum in 1884 and until a uniform system was initiated in 1939 when Mr. Penniman became Curator. This has been bound, together with the Handlist of Subjects, and has become an indispensable reference work in the museum. Miss Blackwood has continued her work on the Regional and Subject Indexes which, thanks largely to her efforts since 1939, are in splendid order. She has also found time to give special assistance to visiting research workers, and carried out research for other scholars by correspondence. She continued to serve on the Council of the Folklore Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Middle and South American Research Committee.

The staff of the museum heard with deep regret of the death of Mr. G.A. Wainwright, the distinguished Egyptologist and patron of Oxford archaeology through his generous foundation and endowment of the Near Eastern Archaeological Fund. As a fitting memorial to his close association with the Pitt Rivers Museum he bequeathed to it his personal library of over 900 books and volumes of periodical mostly on the subject of his main specialization, Egyptology, as well as a small collection of pictures.

Future of the Museum
The congestion in the Pitt Rivers Museum when Mr. Penniman assumed the curatorship in 1939 was so acute that his plans for an extension of the museum on the present site would almost certainly have been implemented but for the advent of the war and the system of priorities which was applied after the war when university building was resumed.

By the time that a rebuilding programme could again be considered, the question of removing the museum to a new site was seriously contemplated because of greatly aggravated internal congestion as well as external pressure to secure the museum’s present site, modest in area as it is, for the expansion of laboratory accommodation in a rapidly developing science area.

The existing collections, uniquely arranged on the typological and evolutionary principles inspired by the founder, are acknowledged to be of international importance, certainly within the six most important collections in the world. In view of the serious overcrowding and the need to provide for the proper display and expansion of the collections, the museum and the Sub-Faculty welcomed the suggestion in the Holford Report that new accommodation for the Pitt Rivers Museum should be provided, in association with the Institute of Social Anthropology and the Research Laboratory for Archaeology, in the area on the east side of the Banbury Road. The Faculty Board has submitted proposals for a new building and the University has sought the advice of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries on them.

Modifications to the Present Museum Building
The greatest museum need at the present time is the provision of a small exhibition gallery in which the collections can be displayed to good advantage in temporary exhibitions. Congestion in the museum galleries is so great that most of the finest specimens cannot be properly seen.

The University Surveyor’s department has designed a modern artificially lit exhibition gallery of approximately 600 square feet in area to be built immediately inside the Pitt Rivers Museum court at the foot of the main entrance stairs from the University Museum. Having obtained the necessary funds for its building and equipment, the Surveyor’s technical staff began construction just before the end of July.

The display area lost on the ground floor will be recovered above by an equivalent extension of the floor of the lower gallery.

The University Surveyor also undertook minor internal alterations to the library and office accommodation during the year in order to rationalize further the use of available space and provide new shelving for the library as well as one new office.
Revision of Academic Structure
Experience with the new form of Diploma in Anthropology, inaugurated as recently as 1961-2, had convinced the academic staff of the Sub-Faculty of Anthropology that further revision was necessary. The Department of Ethnology and Prehistory, while maintaining a strong preference for revision within the framework of a single diploma by the provision of optional papers, accepted the views of those responsible for the majority of students and finally agreed an application for the creation of four separate diplomas. This was justified on the plea that the subject had grown to such an extent that it was unrealistic to expect diploma students to read to examination standard in any but their subject of specialization in one academic year which is, effectively, eight months. Students would at the same time be encouraged to attend lectures and read in what are essentially the other branches of the same field of study. The present solution presupposes the hope that conditions for study will change, perhaps with the establishment of an Honours School, and make a closer recombination of activities possible.

The titles of the new diplomas and names of the diploma secretaries are as follows:
Human Biology: Mr. J.J.T. Owen.
Prehistoric Archaeology: Mr. D. Britton.
Ethnology: Mr. K.O.L. Burridge.
Social Anthropology: Dr. R. Needham.

Activities of Academic Staff
The Curator gave a course of lectures on African Arts and Industries to the students of the Overseas Services Course in the Trinity Term.

He served on the Executive Council of the International Council of Museums and on the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute, attended conferences of the International Council of Museums in Paris, the Museums Association in Nottingham, the Spring Conference of the Prehistoric Society in London, and the inaugural conference of the African Studies Association in Birmingham.

Dr. A.J. Butt gave her course of lectures on Lands and Peoples (America and Africa) in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and gave practical classes, seminars, and tutorials throughout the year. An innovation was instruction in field research techniques for the benefit of intending anthropological fieldworkers.

Early in the year Dr. Butt returned from six months’ fieldwork among the Waiyana of Surinam and French Guiana, bringing back valuable collections for the museum. She read a paper to the 36th International Congress of Americanists in Spain as Oxford University’s official representative in American anthropology.

    She served on the Royal Geographical Society’s Exploration and Medical Handbook Committees, the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and the Committee of the Society for Latin American Studies, and was active in several other related organizations, lecturing to them and broadcasting.

Mr. K.O.L. Burridge gave his course of lectures on Lands and Peoples in the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and on Ethnological Models in the Trinity Term. He gave practical classes throughout the year and tutorials to students for the Geography preliminary examination and to diploma candidates.
He served as President of the Oxford University Anthropological Society and published many book reviews.

He carried out his duties as Secretary to the Sub-Faculty as well as serving on the Faculty Board of Anthropology and Geography.

Mr. Baden-Powell gave his course of lectures on the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, together with practical classes for the handling of stone implements and for comparison of the arts and techniques of prehistoric times with those of the Eskimo and other recent cultures. An elementary class with tutorials on the identification of teeth and bones was also included. A joint arrangement with Mr. Britton enabled the students to see allied work in other departments in Oxford, including the Department of Geology, the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, and the Ashmolean Museum. Time was also found for a joint visit to Avebury and neighbouring monuments, and to Devizes Museum.

Mr. Baden-Powell has continued his work with Dr. Kenneth Sandford on the stone implements from the Oxford district and it is hoped that this investigation will throw light on Sir Francis Knowles’s ideas about ‘turning the edge’ of flints in Palaeolithic times, and that the results will be published soon. On the geological side, he has continued his work on the use of fossil marine shells for dating remains of Prehistoric Man and his implements, partly filling in unpublished detail from Britain and the Mediterranean, and partly with special reference to the African raised beaches and marine clays.

Mr. D. Britton lectured on the first village communities in the Old World in Michaelmas Term, the later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in Europe in the Hilary Term, and The Origins of Civilization in the Near East in the Trinity Term, and gave tutorials throughout the year. During Michaelmas and Hilary Terms he held practical classes covering the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and in the Trinity Term on material culture relating to the origins of civilization, some in the Pitt Rivers Museum and some in the Ashmolean Museum. Practical work included visits to laboratories to see the application of the natural sciences to archaeological problems.

Mr. Britton was external examiner for the Diploma in European Archaeology at London University, and served on the Council of the Prehistoric Society and on five academic committees in Oxford. He attended the Prehistoric Society Summer Conference in Denmark in 1963, where he paid a study visit to the National Museum in Copenhagen, and the Spring Conference of the Society in London in 1964.

He published ‘Traditions of metal-working in the later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of Britain: Part I’ (Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, XXIX (1963), 258-325).

The Curator wishes to thank the staff of the British Museum, Ashmolean Museum, the Avebury Museum, and the Devizes Museum as well as the Department of Geology, the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art for their helpful assistance to members of the Pitt Rivers Museum staff.

Miss Eileen Torr joined the staff as assistant secretary-librarian on 16 January.

Alterations to the building which twice during the year involved the Balfour Library, entailed considerable re-arrangement of existing shelves and the construction of new ones. Temporary shelving was installed for the Wainwright collection pending its inclusion in the catalogue and integration into the library.

The administration has been greatly facilitated by the replacement of the single extension line from the University Museum by a five-station house exchange (54979). All academic staff are now accessible by telephone except Mr. Baden-Powell, whose study and research room are still, through congestion in the Pitt Rivers Museum, located in the Department of Geology by the kindness of Professor Wager.

New office equipment has also played its part in increasing efficiency, notably an IBM 72 electric typewriter and a Gestetner model 320 duplicating machine.

The sale of Occasional Papers show a sustained interest in this series and No. 3, The Technology of a Modern Stone Age People in New Guinea, by Miss Blackwood, has been sold out and reprinted.

Technical services
The death of Mr. Ivor Allen was recorded in last year’s annual report together with details of steps to be taken to secure the publication of his unfinished work. Good progress towards this end can be reported during the year under review.

Mr. Richard Sword was appointed in June to fill the vacancy on the technical staff, and his main field of specialization will be display and draughtsmanship.

The technical staff undertook the construction of partitions in the Periodical Library to provide an extra office and contributed to the reorganization of the library.

In anticipation of the new building operations in the main court almost one-fifth of the free-standing cases and some wall cases were dismantled and sent away to temporary storage, while specimens were packed into improvised storage within the museum.

Two models of the projected new museum were made in the museum workshops. Routine inspection of the collections and conservation work continued but in anticipation of the completion of the new exhibition gallery no new display work was attempted. Some relabelling was, however, carried out.

A new departure in the photographic service was the production of photographs and photocopies in 35 mm. format which was carried out on a new Zeiss Contarex camera and ancillary equipment.

A start was made with the conversion of the slide collection from 3.1/4 x 3.1/4 inch format to 35 mm., a process which will be accelerated as soon as funds are available.

A Leitz Pradomat 35 mm. automatic slide projector was purchased and offered a great saving in technicians’ time since it can easily be operated by the lecturer.

The following gifts to the museum collections are most gratefully acknowledged: Dr. Cyril Aldred: Canister of liturgical tapers from Palestine. E.A. Alport: Wrist knife from Uganda and pairs of sand shoes from Algeria and Tunisia. Dr. A.J. Butt: 107 ethnographic specimens or groups of specimens from Surinam and French Guiana collected while on field research in 1963. . Adrian Cowell: 2 war clubs from Brazil. Mr. Simon Downie: A twin-mouthed earthenware pot from Tanganyika. Bequest of Miss Lucy Margaret Eyre: 2 Japanese oni figures, 4 ft. tall. Miss E. Jackson: Hausa decorated gourd from N. Nigeria. Sir Gilbert Laithwaite: Ceremonial necklace of sperm whale teeth from Fiji. Mr. J. Luckett: 20 ethnographic specimens mostly from England Miss.M.K. Martin-Moey: 4 ethnographic specimens from India and Europe. Mr. J.G.B. Newbould: 8 Somali household utensils, collected in 1957 during O.U. Somaliland Expedition. Mrs. O’Leary: 8 personal ornaments collected by her father, Mr. B.B. Osmaston, in the Andaman Islands Mrs. Charles Overy: 5 medallions and ornaments from Europe. Miss Alison Redmayne: 14 ethnographic specimens from Tanganyika collected while on field research in 1962-63. Estate of the late Miss A.M. Taylor: Memorial picture. Mr. O.H. Walters: 3 ethnographic specimens from the Kubu District, India.  Transferred from the Department of Geology: 8 Zulu animal and human figures made of sun-dried clay.


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