News & Events




Press Release



September 26, 2012

Cowley Anthropology program goes digital


Chris Mayer
The Anthropology program at Cowley College recently held an open house to show off the new classroom facilities and announce two new digital initiatives. 

The program’s classes and projects moved this semester into room 102 of the Webb-Brown building, following the relocation of graphic arts. This provides the anthropology program with much-needed storage, and work space to carry out student and institutional projects.

At the open house held Thursday, September 20, anthropology instructor Chris Mayer announced two on-line projects. The first is a virtual museum, an on-line visual record of the program’s archaeological and ethnographic collections. Using a software package called PastPerfect, anthropology students will catalog the various cultural materials donated to the program and acquired in the field. The resulting database is then used by the software to generate the virtual exhibits that will form a web based museum accessible to the public. Currently, Cowley anthropology major Manuel Olivas is working on this project. The intent is to have the first collection available on-line before the end of the semester.

Mayer also announced the establishment of the Great Plains Ethnomusicology Digital Archive. Ethnomusicology is the anthropological study of music in culture. This archive will collect music, oral histories and related documents and artifacts in digital form, preserving and celebrating the diverse musical traditions of the Great Plains region. The focus will be on Native American music forms, the music of immigrant and ethnic groups, and the music of what Mayer calls the “pre-digital” age. This includes the recordings of soloists and ensembles that were made before the 1990s, or that are out of print or otherwise unavailable.

The Great Plains Ethnomusicology Digital Archive will keep sound files, scans and digital images on a hard drive, and will make the collection available to scholars and the general public via the Internet Archive, a free digital library found at   Every anthropology major at Cowley College will have the opportunity to contribute to this project, which will include fieldwork around the region. According to Mayer, it will be after the first of the year when this project begins in earnest.

“We need to get just a few basic tools first,” Mayer said, including a digital recording and the equipment to digitize records and tapes. “Fortunately, it’s technology that is readily available and not that expensive.”

Mayer also plans side projects to the ethnomusicology collection, including various oral history projects, linguistics studies and the collection of Native American arcaheoastronomy information. Archaeoastronomy refers to the oral traditions and archaeology of astronomy and related knowledge, especially in traditional societies and indigenous cultures.

“We want to create the premier anthropology program at the community college level,” Mayer said. “These programs are going to give students opportunities they just wouldn’t have elsewhere, and that helps them to become leaders in the field.”

For more information, contact Chris Mayer at 620-441-5229, and look for Cowley College Anthropology on Facebook.