Lexicon Task Force

Statement of Purpose
To identify the issues around accessibility to anthropological collections that are based in the collections management lexicons.  To create a solution that will aid collections management professionals in sharing their data and increasing access to their collections.

The origins of this Task Force can be found in the archives of the RCAAM listserv when a question about classification terms for anthropology collections led to a conversation of thesauri development.  There was a general recognition that, lacking a standard list for ethnographic materials and cultural names, many museums develop their own independent thesauri, which can be counterproductive to the larger museum goals of improved data sharing. The discussion continued beyond the initial listserv posting and it was decided to launch a collaborative effort to develop a set of standardized terms for ethnographic collections. This led to the creation of the AAM Session “Developing an Ethnographic Lexicon,” which was presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting in order to raise this topic within the community at large.

A survey was developed in conjunction with the AAM session in order to gather information on general museum practices regarding standardized ethnographic terminology. The information includes:


The survey is now closed, thank you for your response!

Lexicon Task Force


Amy Heggemeyer
Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Stephanie Allen
Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma

Charlie Iverson
Science Museum of Minnesota

Nicolette Meister
Logan Museum of Anthropology, Beloit College

Ann Stevenson
Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Richard Urban
College of Communication and Information School of Information, Florida State University

The Lexicon Task Force is in its early stages and encourages the participation of additional individuals from museums and relevant communities.  Please contact chairperson Amy Heggemeyer with any questions or if you are interested in being involved.