Event Title

Re-Envisioning the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection

Presenter Information

Nalin Beckman, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center, Bent Corridor

Start Date

10-28-2016 5:30 PM

End Date

10-28-2016 6:00 PM

Poster Number

33

Abstract

The Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection (OCEC) consists of roughly 1600 cultural objects obtained in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly by Oberlin missionaries and teachers abroad. When an Oberlin Anthropology faculty member and her students digitized the collection in the early 2000’s, no one could have imagined that it would one day be re-invented as an interactive collection, available for physical study by any student or faculty member within Oberlin’s community. As a result, the OCEC was stored for safekeeping in two tightly packed closets, making it nearly impossible to access. The vision for the collection has now changed, and our project team is preparing for the OCEC’s anticipated move to Mudd Library. There it will be housed in a secure and accessible location near the College Archives, which will encourage students and faculty to take advantage of these valuable objects for teaching and research. In July of 2016, our team worked to evaluate the collection’s new physical and digital needs. On the digital end, we consulted with Mudd library staff to begin developing a more streamlined and user-friendly database. From a physical perspective, the team measured, photographed, and researched a diverse range of OCEC objects to estimate the collection’s storage and conservation needs in its new location. These are the first steps in fulfilling our goal of making the OCEC accessible for study.

Award

Science and Technology Research Opportunities for a New Generation (STRONG)

Project Mentor(s)

Amy Margaris, Anthropology

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Oct 28th, 5:30 PM Oct 28th, 6:00 PM

Re-Envisioning the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection

Science Center, Bent Corridor

The Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection (OCEC) consists of roughly 1600 cultural objects obtained in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly by Oberlin missionaries and teachers abroad. When an Oberlin Anthropology faculty member and her students digitized the collection in the early 2000’s, no one could have imagined that it would one day be re-invented as an interactive collection, available for physical study by any student or faculty member within Oberlin’s community. As a result, the OCEC was stored for safekeeping in two tightly packed closets, making it nearly impossible to access. The vision for the collection has now changed, and our project team is preparing for the OCEC’s anticipated move to Mudd Library. There it will be housed in a secure and accessible location near the College Archives, which will encourage students and faculty to take advantage of these valuable objects for teaching and research. In July of 2016, our team worked to evaluate the collection’s new physical and digital needs. On the digital end, we consulted with Mudd library staff to begin developing a more streamlined and user-friendly database. From a physical perspective, the team measured, photographed, and researched a diverse range of OCEC objects to estimate the collection’s storage and conservation needs in its new location. These are the first steps in fulfilling our goal of making the OCEC accessible for study.