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The visit of Vera & Trevor Gibbons to Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

We have returned from our visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum, with much enthusiasm for the continuing relationship between our two Museums. The visit was most successful. 

We were warmly welcomed by Philip Grover, Curator [Head of manuscript collections] and his assistant Kathy Clough, who had displayed ready for us, boxes of archive material relevant to the Powell-Cotton Museum, dating back to the 1930s. As the day progressed Kathy guided us to other areas for us to explore. 

The examination of this material confirmed the great number of objects, including items from Angola, Namibia and Zululand, donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum by the Powell-Cotton Family in excess of 1000 objects.

We read some of the notes accompanying each donation and were amazed at the detail given especially by Antoinette Powell-Cotton [Tony] on the daily lives and customs of the various tribes they encountered. Tony was an Intern at the Pitt Rivers Museum for 2 years from1933.

The surprise package, for us, was the handwritten personal letters from Tony to Beatrice Blackwood in the 1950s.  These have excited Dr Inbal Livne, Head of Collections at Powell-Cotton Museum, as Beatrice Blackwood is considered a founder of the object cataloguing techniques used by both the Pitt Rivers Museum & Powell-Cotton Museum to this day and we have proof that she visited Quex.

Also, like us, Hazel Basford our Archivist is intrigued by the everyday content. We are now searching the archives at the Powell-Cotton Museum for the reciprocal letters from Beatrice Blackwood which will give us not only an insight into their common interests but also into the family life of the Powell-Cottons.

An exciting and fruitful visit, with many thanks to Philip and Kathy.

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