The Road to Becoming an Anthropological Archivist: Preserving Anthropological Materials

The Road to Becoming an Anthropological Archivist: Preserving Anthropological Materials

Are you passionate about preserving and protecting anthropological materials for future generations? As an anthropological archivist, you play a crucial role in safeguarding important cultural artifacts and historical documents. In this article, we will explore the steps and requirements to embark on the journey of becoming an anthropological archivist and the significance of preserving anthropological materials. Join us as we delve into the world of cultural heritage preservation and the rewarding career path of an anthropological archivist.

Education and Training

Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology

To start on the road to becoming an anthropological archivist, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology is essential. This degree provides a strong foundation in understanding human cultures, societies, and histories. It also introduces students to the research methods and techniques used in anthropology, which are crucial for preserving anthropological materials.

Master’s Degree in Library Science

In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Library Science is highly recommended for aspiring anthropological archivists. This advanced degree provides specialized training in information organization, preservation, and management. It also covers topics such as archival principles, digitization, and metadata creation, all of which are essential skills for preserving anthropological materials.

Internship at a Museum or Archive

Hands-on experience is invaluable in the field of anthropological archiving. Completing an internship at a museum or archive allows students to apply their academic knowledge in a real-world setting. It provides opportunities to work with anthropological collections, learn about preservation techniques, and gain practical skills in managing archival materials. This internship experience is crucial for building a strong foundation in the field and preparing for a career as an anthropological archivist.

Skills and Qualifications

To become an anthropological archivist, it is essential to possess a combination of skills and qualifications that are crucial for preserving anthropological materials. These skills include:

Knowledge of Anthropological Concepts

A deep understanding of anthropological concepts is essential for an anthropological archivist. This includes knowledge of cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology. It is important for the archivist to be able to identify the significance of different materials and understand their cultural and historical contexts.

Cataloging and Database Management Skills

Effective cataloging and database management skills are crucial for organizing and preserving anthropological materials. The archivist must be able to create detailed records of each item in their collection, including information such as provenance, condition, and significance. They must also be proficient in using database software to maintain and update their collections.

Experience with Preservation Techniques

An anthropological archivist must have experience with preservation techniques to ensure the longevity of the materials in their care. This includes knowledge of proper handling procedures, storage methods, and conservation treatments. The archivist must also be familiar with environmental monitoring and disaster preparedness to protect their collections from damage.

Challenges and Responsibilities

As an anthropological archivist, one of the main challenges you will face is preserving fragile materials. These materials can range from delicate documents and photographs to ancient artifacts and textiles. It is crucial to handle these materials with care and use proper preservation techniques to ensure they remain intact for future generations.

Another important responsibility of an anthropological archivist is ensuring cultural sensitivity. This involves respecting the beliefs and practices of the cultures whose materials you are preserving. It is essential to consult with community members and stakeholders to ensure that the materials are being handled and displayed in a respectful manner.

Navigating legal and ethical issues is also a key aspect of being an anthropological archivist. You must be aware of copyright laws and intellectual property rights when dealing with materials created by others. Additionally, you must consider ethical issues surrounding the collection and display of sensitive materials, such as human remains or sacred objects.

In conclusion, the road to becoming an anthropological archivist is filled with challenges and responsibilities. By preserving fragile materials, ensuring cultural sensitivity, and navigating legal and ethical issues, you can help to protect and promote the rich cultural heritage of the past.


In conclusion, becoming an anthropological archivist is a rewarding and important role in preserving the cultural heritage of societies around the world. By following the road outlined in this article, individuals can gain the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively document and safeguard anthropological materials for future generations. It is crucial for archivists to stay current with evolving technologies and best practices to ensure that these valuable artifacts are protected and accessible to researchers and the public. Overall, the work of anthropological archivists plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and richness of our collective human history.