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Online Collections

These online exhibits and databases offer a view of a small part of the collections of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology.

Batak Manuscripts

Batak Manuscript Exhibit

In 1918 and 1927, University of Michigan Professor Harley Harris Bartlett (1886–1960) traveled to Sumatra, Indonesia, to conduct botanical research and collect specimens for the University of Michigan Herbarium and Smithsonian Institution. Some of his travel took him to the upland mountains of northern Sumatra and into contact with the Batak people. While visiting Batak villages, he collected various anthropological materials in addition to botanical materials. He gave the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology 155 written Batak texts and other materials for its collections.  

Dean C. Worcester Photograph Collection

The Dean C. Worcester Collection consists of more than 4700 glass plate photographic negatives and prints taken in the Philippines between 1890 and 1913, by Dean C. Worcester and colleagues. Worcester first traveled to the Philippines with U-M zoologist Joseph Beal Steere in 1887, while still a University of Michigan undergraduate. After the Philippines became a U.S. colony in 1898, Worcester was appointed Secretary of the Interior of the colonial government (1901–1913) and remained in the Philippines until his death in 1924. Worcester was an avid photographer, and he and his staff took nearly 16,000 photographs between 1890 and 1913—documenting indigenous Philippine communities and traditional lifeways as well as activities of the colonial administration. A total of 4775 original glass plate negatives and lantern slide from the Worcester archives are held by UMMAA.

Koelz Collection of Himalyan Art

Koelz Collection: Online Exhibit

On November 2, 1932, zoologist and adventurer Walter Norman Koelz left Ann Arbor for a two-year collecting mission in northern India. Koelz had been appointed by the University of Michigan to collect biological specimens for the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology and material culture for the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. From 1932 to 1934 he traveled throughout the Indian Himalayas, collecting birds and other fauna, botanical specimens, and a rare and important assemblage of Western Himalayan art. This exhibition features a portion of the objects that Koelz collected, including religious tangka paintings from Buddhist monasteries, bronze and silver amulet boxes, elaborate shawls, and wooden seals and printing blocks.

Philippine Collections

Philippine Collections at UMMAA

The University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology (UMMAA) is home to over 25,000 objects originating from the Philippines. The majority of these collections were made during the American colonial period (1898-1946). Collections include material from archaeological excavations, objects made by indigenous artists and craftspeople, plant specimens, and thousands of photographs and documents from this period. This website begins to explore these vast collections and to share them with Filipino and Filipino/x American communities, as well as students and scholars.

Sago Spathe Paintings

Sago Spathe Painting Exhibit

The Museum has a collection of over 100 Sago Spathe paintings from New Guinea. Most of the paintings come from a ritual house built in the early 1980s. The initiation cycle was not completed due to dissension among the senior men who were responsible for keeping the initiation going. The paintings were recovered from the ruins of the structure in 1987 by Phillip Guddemi, a graduate student in cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan. Some paintings that would normally be present were not found. Examples of these were commissioned from local artists.

UMMAA Digital Image Database

The UMMAA Digital Image Database currently contains more than 29,000 images and metadata. It includes photographs from original excavations, personal collecting, reference books and magazines, as well as images of artifacts within the Museum's collections. These images are available to the students, educators, and the public via the Digital Library Production Services of the University of Michigan Library. 

Historical Plant Use Database

The Historical Plant Use Database originated in 1954, when the Museum’s Ethnobotanical Laboratory began to develop a “Compendium of Data on Economic Botany of the Southwest.” The project was started by curator Volney Jones and was continued by his successor Richard Ford. With funding from the University’s Graduate School, Vorsila Boher and Jones devised a punch card system for creating a taxonomic list of economic plants from the U.S. Southwest that could be cross-indexed by native tribe and category of use. Over more than 30 years, data were collected using this technology. In 2004, Ford, with the help of graduate student assistants, began the work of digitizing the Compendium. Four years of effort produced the “Southwest Traditional Ethnic Group Plant Use Database” (shortened to “Historical Plant Use Database”).

Click this link for more information on the database and its importance in ethnobotanical research. 

The database is currently being reviewed for culturally sensitive information and being updated into a new interface. Until it is re-released online, please contact the UMMAA collections managers for access to the data.