The Society for Historical Archaeology
Forum on Collections Management


On this site you will find a range of materials intended for use as part of the upcoming Forum on Collections curation at the SHA meetings in Austin TX, January 5-9 2011. The session abstract is pasted below for your information. The Forum takes place on Saturday morning, Jan 8th, from 9-12am. The materials on this site offer background reading on several levels, as well as an “Assessment Framework” that serves the foundation for the Forum, and outlines the underlying approach to the working session.

Unlike most sessions at this conference, the Forum is designed to be a working session with the active participation of attendees. Our goal is to generate a set of working documents as decision-making tools for managing and assessing collections, and can which can be refined and improved through active use both in the field and in the repository. The driver for this project, and for the Forum, is an understanding that we as historical archaeologists must begin to work together towards addressing the ‘curation crisis’, rather than continuing to take management decisions on a case-by-case basis.

If you have limited time, we encourage you to just to read through the “Assessment Framework” document, which is an essential preparation for the Forum discussions.  If you have questions about this session please feel free to email Giovanna Vitelli, or Mark Warner,

We look forward to seeing you at the session!

Terry Klein
William Moss
Bob Sonderman
Giovanna Vitelli
Mark Warner


Invisible Archaeology: an SHA working session on collections, curation and stewardship

At the 2010 SHA meetings, a panel discussion entitled “Drowning in Artifacts: A Discussion on Deaccessioning Artifacts and the Implication for Historical Archaeology” produced stimulating and thought provoking discussions. The session opened up a wide range of issues associated with the overall curation problem. As a continuation of these discussions, we have organized a working session where participants will have an opportunity to focus on the key issues associated with curation of the archaeological archive, and identify an action plan for the SHA to address these key issues. The session will be in both large group format for overall discussion and presentation, and in small group breakdowns to work on selected issues, likely to include topics such as field collection and curation strategies, post-field sampling and methods of classification, demonstrating the value of existing collections to the public and to the discipline, and the future of de-accessioning.

Proposed Assessment Framework for Responsible Collections Management

PDF Version

Professional Societies’ Ethics Statements

Documents Pertaining to Collections Management

General Articles

Articles on the Curation Crisis


State Level Collections Management

Useful Links on Collections Management

1996Common Ground Thematic issue: “Collections and Curation” Vol 1, No 2)

1995 Federal Archaeology (now Common Ground) thematic issue “The Curation Crisis” (the curation crisis)

NPS Midwest Archaeological Center useful summary link on sources on archaeological curation

Florida Keys national marine Sanctuary, permit guidelines for deaccession/transfer of artifacts 

Maxwell Museum Collections management policy, including deaccessioning criteria

National Park Service Doc on managing Archaeological collections