Bringing Objects into Focus: Digitizing 40 Years of Hidden Cataloging Photographs, Negatives, and Slides

Material Description

The San Diego Museum of Man's (SDMoM) collections include more than 150,000 ethnographic objects, over 500,000 archaeological items, and over 150,000 photographic images from around the world. The materials nominated for digitization are documentary images (photographs, negatives, and slides) of the diverse objects in our collection. These images were produced by SDMoM curatorial staff between the years 1959-1999 as part of systematic cataloging efforts. Beginning in 1959, there were two major shifts in SDMoM's cataloging methodologies. The first was the adoption of a new numbering system, from a 5-digit number to a trinomial accession number-based system. The second was the beginning of the systematic photographic documentation of objects in our collection. From 1959-1999 objects were photographed by curatorial staff as a part of the cataloging process. Small contact prints were affixed directly to the Catalog Card for reference. In 1979, efforts were made to photograph objects that had been cataloged before 1959. From roughly 1975-1999 color slides were produced of many of the objects in our collection. Since 2000, SDMoM has made great strides in cataloging, inventorying, and documenting our object collection into an electronic database. However, associated images of our collection are still largely locked in physical form, rendering them essentially inaccessible even to Museum staff and truly invisible to the public.

Year Added:



San Diego Museum of Man


Ms. Kelly Revak
San Diego Museum of Man

Ms. Kelly Williams
San Diego Museum of Man

Date Range

1959 - 1959

Geographic Scope

SDMoM's collection has a strong focus on the Western Hemisphere, and strengths in California, the Southwestern United States, Mexico, and western South America. Important ancillary collections include artifacts from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest Coast, the Great Plains, Central America, and South America. Significant comparative collections feature ancient Egypt and Polynesia.


  • 15000 Black & White Acetate Strip Negatives