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Accession Registers Online

Accession Registers Online

On this page you will have the opportunity to view a very important but seldom seen part of the Museum's collections - The Accession Registers and associated documents.

An accession register is the permanent record of all objects which are, or have been, part of a museum's collections. The early registers of Saffron Walden Museum are beautiful objects in their own right. In these expansive volumes the curators drew detailed pictures of the objects, along with hand written descriptions - most of which are very much of their time but are still an insightful record of the time period.


Some of the articles and views contained in these registers represent views and attitudes held in the 19th century, and are not the views of the Museum today. Some of these practices were linked to British colonialism and racial discrimination, or to practices of wildlife collecting that have since been made illegal by national and international legislation. The Museum does not condone these practices in any way.

We hope that by sharing some of the information in these documents, we can acknowledge and learn from the mistakes of the past, but still use the information in a modern context to inform academic research, and ensure that modern museums do not repeat those mistakes.
For more information, please see the Museums Association’s Code of Ethics, available here: https://www.museumsassociation.org/ethics/code-of-ethics


Below you can see a sample of pages from Accession Register A , which featured lists of the museum’s objects created by John Player in 1844, along with descriptive notes which were designed to be used for object labels created by H. Ecroyd-Smith in the 1880s.




Next is Register 1 (covering the period 1832-1880) was a retrospective register created in the 1880s by the then Curator George Nathan Maynard “compiled from various sources, from the late Mr Joseph Clarke’s (one of the original museum society’s founders) correspondence and lists of “miscellaneous contributions” to the museum’s collections, as well as objects labels and additional object lists – “as the original museum register - if it ever existed – being lost” It features fascinating insights into the collections, including a letter from Charles Wedge regarding the collection of aboriginal material to be displayed in the new Saffron Walden Museum (today this collection is known to be one of the oldest groups of aboriginal material held in a UK collection).

This register is a historical document created in colonial times and as such reflects outdated views, which are very much of their time, not the views of the current museum service.

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