Lasting legacies: Research and analysis of the Jean Jenkins Ethnomusicology Archive

From September 2013 to January 2014, I held an intern position at National Museums Scotland, in the Department of World Cultures. My primary task was to continue the organisation and research of the Jean Jenkins ethnomusicology archive. The ethnomusicology collection of Jean Jenkins (1922-1990), was first established by the Royal Scottish Museum (now National Museums Scotland) in 1980, when the Museum purchased Jenkins’ personal collection of musical instruments and cultural artefacts. After Jenkins’ death in 1990, her rare sound recordings, photography, and paper archives were bequeathed to the Museum.

During the internship, I was assigned the role of cataloguing, scanning and arranging Jenkins’ paper archive, which includes correspondence, field notes, pictures, and article publications from Jenkins’ career. A wide portion of catalogue information has now been successfully grouped into folders for the Department of World Cultures and more importantly National Museums Scotland, to assist and promote further research and inquiry to relevant audiences.

Jean Jenkins
Jean Jenkins recording in Africa.

Other aims of my internship placement included research on Jean Jenkins’ impact in the fields of ethnomusicology and the cultural heritage sector. The final outcome of this study will be published as an article for the Museum Ethnographers Journal.

Whilst focusing on the primary objectives of the internship, I have also managed to take on subsequent research into African and Oceania archive material within the London Illustrated News, as a resource for the World Cultures Department.

My residence at National Museums Scotland was an exciting chance for me to learn and gain valuable insight into the museum profession through the tasks I performed. This position has allowed me to think critically and engage effectively within the Department and in the public sphere, ultimately refining my abilities as a researcher. Furthermore, I am very grateful for the opportunities presented to me during these past few months, and the contacts I have made whilst interning with National Museums Scotland.

You can hear excerpts from the Jean Jenkins archive and create your own compositions in our World Music Composer game.

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