To inform debates about decolonizing museum records, this article maps the history of cataloging at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when material heritage was collected for museums from Indigenous peoples, the knowledge within those communities was often measured against Eurocentric biases that saw Indigenous knowledge as the object of material culture research, not a contribution to it. This article thus argues for a historical approach to understand how standards in object description involve assumptions that have resulted in a lack of Indigenous knowledge in museum records from this time.
Turner, H. (2015). Decolonizing Ethnographic Documentation: A Critical History of the Early Museum Catalogs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 53(5–6), 658–676.