Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 4-16-2018

Thesis Advisor

Megan Kassabaum


anthropology, museums, collectors, objects, nineteenth century, world's fairs, Philadelphia


In the nineteenth century, anthropology began to coalesce as a discipline while museums modernized their mission as educational institutions. Because objects were key sources of anthropological knowledge during this period, museums operated as the institutional base for the discipline. Robert Henry Lamborn was a collector who was deeply involved in developing anthropological theories and museum best practices, differing from both museum professionals and private collectors in his methods and goals. Lamborn presents an ideal case study for examining the intersection of anthropology and museums in the nineteenth century, as well as the object-based theoretical underpinnings of anthropology, a history that anthropologists and museum professionals are returning to in the present. Because he had no formal training in or obligations to the discipline of anthropology or the museum profession, Lamborn was able to explore certain topics and combinations of theories that others were not able to. Through a combination of archival research, object analysis, and theoretical examination, I explore the ways in which Lamborn utilized anthropological theories to display his objects in three Philadelphia museums.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



Date Posted: 11 June 2018


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