From Pots to Pan Pipes: Specimen Exchanges between Paul S. Martin and Harold Gladwin

Catherine A Nichols


Specimen exchange saw widespread use in the nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries among museum-based anthropologists as a means of collections growth and refinement. This paper examines organizational aspects of specimen exchange at the Field Museum, and presents a case study of exchanges between anthropology curator Paul Martin and Harold Gladwin of Gila Pueblo. The Field Museum’s specimen exchange policies and procedures establish norms of the practice. I use this case to demonstrates how individuals with cultural knowledge and capital are able to achieve desired outcomes for their exchange partners within bureaucratic organizations. Attention to specimen exchange contributes to the greater literature on the value of collections and deaccessioning, as this practice is essentially the movement of collection objects out of museums.


exchange; anthropology; Field Museum

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Copyright (c) 2019 Catherine A Nichols

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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