Collections to the Archives
The National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies
Film Archives collect and preserve historical and contemporary anthropological
materials that document the world's cultures and the history of anthropology.
sorts of material does the archives accept?
In general, we are interested in everything an anthropologist creates,
plus items that illuminate his or her public career and private life.
We also collect materials that facilitate anthropological research that
have been created by other professionals (such as linguists and ethnohistorians).
Our collections include fieldnotes, diaries, photographs, sound recordings,
film, video, teaching materials, lecture notes, grant applications, manuscript
reviews, editorial business, correspondence (both personal and professional),
diaries, ephemeral materials, and electronic files. When in doubt about
a particular item, please ask. The archives welcomes material in all
media, including manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, film, video
and electronic media.
The NAA does not collect books, journals, reprints, offprints or photocopied
articles that are easily found in a university library (or online) unless they
were written, edited, or annotated by the collection donor. However, the
NAA does accept rare publications as well as works inscribed by authors
to collection donors ("To Alan, with appreciation for your
assistance on the unified field theory. Albert").
there any formalities?
Yes. Prospective donations must be reviewed by the
Department of Anthropology's Collections Advisory Committee.
collection is accepted for acquisition, an archivist will make
arrangements with you to transfer your materials to the archives. The
NAA will ask you to sign a standard
Deed of Gift which transfers title to the documents as well as their
copyright. The HSFA will negotiate an agreement
that addresses copyright and associated rights and use issues.
should I prepare my collection?
First and foremost, think about how future researchers will use your
fieldwork materials. Label everything you can, since no one will ever
know as much about your fieldwork materials as you do. Keep film, video
and other media in their original cans and boxes (which often include
information which helps identify their content). Finally,
tell us about yourself. If you have a resume or curriculum vitae, by
all means send it.
if I'm sending someone else's collection?
Your work is even easier. Since most collections have an order imposed
by their creators, there's no need to alter its arrangement before sending
it to the archives. As a general rule, we would prefer to receive a collection
with its original arrangement intact even if that order is not
immediately apparent than to receive an artificially arranged (i.e.
Leave audiovisual materials in their original boxes and
cans and send associated materials (such as notes, productions
logs, transcriptions, correspondence and photographs) along with them.
Don't attempt to view or listen
to audiovisual materials, as this can cause irreversible damage
can I preserve the current arrangement of the materials?
The contents of file cabinets should be transferred to cardboard cartons
in their original order. Start at the top of the first cabinet and work
your way down to the bottom. Place notes inside cartons as you fill them
with labels such as "Cabinet 1, Drawer 1" or "Cabinet 1, Drawer 5 (continued)
and Drawer 6." Try as you best you can to keep associated materials
together, as it will allow us to make greater sense of the collection
about electronic files?
Please print electronic files, then send the hard copy and electronic
copy to the archives. Tell us everything you know about the software
that was used
to create the files, including the operating system (e.g., Windows, Mac),
the word-processing program, and if possible, the exact version. Label
diskettes with a soft
felt-tipped pen (or prepare a label before affixing it to the disk).
Remember that diskettes are magnetic media.
Keep them away from
magnets and easily magnetized items, such as telephones, speakers, paper
clips, scissors. If you burn your files to a CD, identify
it with a unique "volume name" or simply label the CD
sleeve or cover (do not label the CD itself).
packing material should I use?
Please use new cartons only, as secondhand boxes usually burst open
during shipment. Fill each carton tightly and completely (unfilled boxes
to crush and break open). Seal each carton and wrap strong plastic tape
(not masking tape) around its girth. Finally, mark the total number
of boxes shipped on all boxes (for example, "Box 7 of 10"). If
you're sending film, make sure that the ends are taped down and that
the film roll or reel does not move around inside their cans or boxes.
should I ship my collection to the archives?
Please use a shipping company that offers online package tracking, such as FedEx or UPS. You may also contact us before you make arrangements to discuss the feasibility
of the archives covering your costs.
will the archives acknowledge my donation?
The archives will prepare a Deed of
Gift (NAA) or an Agreement of Transfer (HSFA) for your signature. Sign
and return both copies to the archives. We will return a countersigned
copy for your files.
do other people learn about my collection?
An online catalog of our collections is maintained by SIRIS,
the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Our Web site
features several collection guides as well as
finding aids and online
exhibits. Finally, the archives publishes an annual notice of its
acquisitions in the Anthropology Newsletter
(published by the American Anthropological Association), which briefly
describes the scope and content of new collections.
see that some collections are restricted why?
Occasionally, donors restrict access to their collections
to protect the confidentiality or privacy of their informants. The archives
respects donors' wishes while striving to make archival material freely
and publicly available. To reach this goal, it sometimes temporarily restricts a
portion of the collection while allowing
fuller access to less-sensitive material. Donors may wish to consult the American Anthropological Association's Statement on the
Confidentiality of Field Notes.
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research offers Historical
Archives Program grants to assist individuals holding significant
records and personal papers with the expenses of preparing and transferring
them for archival deposit.
make a financial contribution to the archives?
Collection donors may
contribute funds to help the archive conserve, arrange and catalog their
collection. As a rule of thumb, it takes an archivist about one week to
arrange and describe one cubic foot of manuscript material. The cost to
the archives is about $1,000. For a silent color 1/2-hour film, the cost
for an archivist's work, film laboratory preservation and a video reference
copy is approximately $1,900. Several anthropologists also make annual,
tax-deductable gifts to the archives. We appreciate their generosity.
can I learn more?
"Inside the National Anthropological Archives" (Anthropology News, Jan. 2008) summarizes the NAA's history and mission. Helpful information also appears in Guide
to Preserving Anthropological Records (Council for
the Preservation of Anthropological Records) and Guide to Donating Your Personal or Family Papers to a Repository (Society of American Archivists).
For further information about donating materials, please
write to firstname.lastname@example.org.