I Remember When…

by Ron Kley, Museum Research Associates on

I think I can claim to have been involved in the Nomenclature project  longer than anyone else still living — at any rate, since the early 1970s.  As Nomenclature’s original editor “Bob” Chenhall noted in the preface to the first (red-bound edition), I had opened my mouth at a professional meeting in 1974 to propose the idea of a standardized lexicon for museum collection objects…and that set the wheels in motion.

I plead innocent. Yes, I did make that suggestion, but it could hardly have been an original idea. Registrars and curators long before my time had developed and maintained lists of standard terms for naming objects, even if those terms were only “standard” within the walls of their own institutions.

Some, perhaps many, of them had doubtlessly wished that their own set of standards (or even someone else’s) might be adopted by the museum community at large. If my own suggestion exerted more influence it was only because it was made in front of a receptive audience and at a time when the data management potentials of computers, and their persnickety demands for absolute consistency in search/retrieval parameters, had entered the consciousness of leaders in the museum field.

(I was nowhere near that elevated status, having worked in museums for less than a decade, and having come to the field not through any formal training program but rather accidentally — a story for an other time.)

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