Ethnographic wax cylinders

Male vocal solo in Yekhee

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    Thomas, Northcote Whitridge

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    NWT315; Frazer No.315 ("nwt master" on cylinder rim). 1. "Record at Gori. February 23rd 1910." 2. Ref tone. 3. "Number 315." 4-6. Male vocal solo in the Yekhee (or Kukuruku) language. Northcote Whitridge Thomas (1868-1936) was an anthropologist appointed by the British Colonial Office, who saw the need to research the customs of people living under British Colonial rule. Thomas carried out fieldwork in Nigeria and Sierra Leone from 1909 to 1916. Little is now known of him, as he was not attached to any university and so did not have any students taking after him. However, he made a huge contribution to anthropology and his methodology, with its attention to detail, is considered ahead of his time. Thomas not only made over 700 wax cylinder recordings during his fieldwork, but also took thousands of photographs, now in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Thomas' reports on the Edo and Ibo cultures of Nigeria, and of the Timne (or Themne) in Sierra Leone are extremely thorough. The reports detail laws and customs within tribes and include dictionaries, proverbs and maps outlining the boundaries of ethnic groups. His reports also contain transcriptions and translations of many of the recordings. He recommended students to listen to his cylinders, duplicates of which were at the time in the Royal Anthropological Institute.

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