Cultural Groups


As part of a wider project to change collections management systems, the Pitt Rivers Museum is working to update its Cultural Group Names information. The current list is woefully out of date, and based either on Donor or Collector’s information, or on Ethnologue language group attributions. As a result, it often contains dated, incorrect, derogatory, and/or racist terms. Not only are we hoping to create a primary list of appropriate terms, including as many autonyms as possible, but we are hoping to create a number of thesauri which can be attached to this list. This would enable searching by synonyms and alternate spellings. We would also like to be able to link smaller cultural groups to larger confederations.

As the Museum’s collections span the globe, the number of cultural groups currently stands in the thousands, and as the Museum would like to increase the list to include groups not currently, knowingly represented, I am hoping for as much Indigenous help as possible. 

The Museum is also hoping to make object and collection information easy to find by the widest number of groups possible, so if you have insight or advice on how legislation (similar to NAGPRA) or local custom influences database searching, that would be much appreciated, as well.

        Thank you, in advance,
        Meghan Backhouse
        Cultural Group Researcher
        Pitt Rivers Museum


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