Archives Month: Animals in the Archives

[Posted on behalf of Chrissie Perella]


Animals in the Archives, a two-day symposium at the University of Pennsylvania, kicked off Thursday evening with a screening of “Matto Grosso, the Great Brazilian Wilderness” (1931). The film documented the people, animals, and environment of the Matto Grosso region.

Friday morning began with a fascinating talk by Bruce Holsinger (University of Virginia) about parchment’s double life as both a biological artifact and a historical artifact. Next was Iris Montero (Brown University), who discussed her research in connecting the history of hummingbird bundles with cases found in the archives and physical artifacts (only 1 found so far!). Rebecca Woods (University of Toronto) spoke about how the wool samples in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum tell the history of selective breeding and the wool industry.

hummingbird bundle

photograph of a ram titled

Next: A whirlwind roundtable! Martha Few talked about cochineal insects (used for red ink) and bone black paint used on manuscripts and hand-drawn maps; Margaret Graham spoke on DUCOM’s lantern slide from Constantine Hering featuring a snake and another donor’s mosaic mouse; Beth Lander discussed the College’s anthropodermic books and the question of agency; Michael Miller displayed some of the natural histories at APS that include animals; Alex Pezzati showed off lovely animals in the collections at Penn Museum, and John Pollack asked what it means to consider the animal(s) who were killed for the manuscript.

roundtable participants
The roundtable speakers: Margaret Graham (Drexel College of Medicine Legacy Center), Alex Pezzati (Penn Museum), Martha Few (Penn State), Beth Lander (College of Physicians of Philadelphia), Michael Miller (American Philosophical Society), and John Pollack (Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania)

The afternoon ended with Nigel Rothfels (University of Wisconsin), who spoke about the research value of collections in storage spaces and Neel Ahuja (University of California), who discussed the colonial archive and how it tracks the evolution of animal welfare and society’s reactions to it.

Storify feed here: the-archives

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