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Frances Bristol collection

Identifier: 2006.27

Scope and Contents

The Frances Bristol Collection focuses on indigenous textiles, clothing styles, and textile production from Oaxaca, Mexico from the second half of the 20th century.


  • Creation: 1949-2003


Conditions Governing Access

All object records and 200 images from the image archive are available to view on Beloit College’s Digital Collections website.

To access the digital scans of archival materials or to see the materials in person, please contact the Logan Museum's Curator of Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Clara Frances Bristol, known as Frances, was an traveler and avocational collector whose collecting interests centered on Oaxacan textiles during the second half of the 20th century. Beginning in the early 1950s, Frances and her mother spent roughly two months each winter in Oaxaca City. They stayed at the Oaxaca Court Hotel, run by Anita and Ray Jones. Anita collected Oaxacan textiles and soon began to invite Frances and her mother along on her collecting expeditions to remote villages and markets. Using local guides that Anita knew, they traveled by plane, by vehicle, and by foot to various villages to visit markets and purchase textiles.

Frances’ keen observation skills and interest in detail prompted her to begin illustrating and recording her observations and researching textiles to better understand their manufacture, proper use, and meaning. Frances began compiling her notes, drawings and photographs in three-ring notebooks, organized by district and town. Between 1952 and 1995 Frances acquired over 500 objects, mostly textiles, all meticulously recorded in her notebooks.

Having made the acquaintance of Dr. William S. Godfrey, professor of anthropology at Beloit College during her travels in Oaxaca, Frances, in the end, decided to donate her collection to the Logan Museum of Anthropology.


7,706 Photographic Slides

290 Photographic Prints

32 Volumes : notebook binders

78 Photographic Prints : negatives

Language of Materials



The Bristol Collection contains 421 objects, mostly textiles, and an associated archive from Frances Bristols’ travels to the state of Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, and Guatemala from 1949-2003. The archive consists of 7,706 color slides, 290 photographs, 78 negatives, and 32 notebook binders (compiled in scrapbook format) of field notes, hand drawn maps, and illustrations of indigenous clothing styles. A User’s Guide accompanies the archive and contains detailed description of its contents as well as notes and additional resources compiled by LMA staff.

Physical Location

The Frances Bristol Collection is located at the Logan Museum of Anthropology, 700 College St, Beloit, WI 53511. For access to the collection, please contact Nicolette Meister, Curator of Collections at (608) 363-2305, Email:

Other Finding Aids

The Logan Museum has created an extensive User's Guide for the Frances Bristol Collection, that provides detailed instructions for working with the various collection components. The Guide was produced with funding from a Collections and References Resources grant made through the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The guide also makes reference to 12 supplemental appendices which provide more detailed informationon the materials in the Bristol Collection. Please see the links below to access these documents.

Appendix 1: Slide Information Visual Key: This PDF is a key and visual guide for the coding system and information written on Bristol’s slides.

Appendix 2: Cataloged and Culled Slides, Photographs, Negatives Finding Aid: The finding aid for all cataloged and culled slides, photographs, and negatives is available as an Excel workbook in Appendix 2. The workbook contains three spreadsheets: (1) a box level inventory for all materials; (2) an itemized inventory for all cataloged slides, photographs, and negatives; (3) an itemized inventory of all culled slides, photographs, and negatives.

Appendix 3: Field Notebooks Locations Index: This Excel workbook is an index of all the locations that appear in the field notebooks Costumes and Customs of Oaxaca, Vol. 1-5, States of Mexico, Vol. 1-5, and Guatemala. Bristol, like many of contemporary Oaxacan scholars, organized information on textile traditions and indigenous ccommunities by their location or community of origin. The index details inhabited place, district, state/department and the page number and notebook in which they appear.

Appendix 4: Field Notebooks Collection Objects Index: This Excel workbook is an index of all the collection objects that appear in the field notebooks Costumes and Customs of Oaxaca, Vol. 1-5, States of Mexico, Vol. 1-5, and Guatemala. Only 90 of the collection’s 423 objects are documented in the notebooks. The index details the Bristol object catalog number, object type, locality, and the page number and notebook in which they appear.

Appendix 5: Field Notebooks Persons Index: This Excel spreadsheet is an index of all named people that appear in the field notebooks Costumes and Customs of Oaxaca, Vol. 1-5. This includes Bristol’s friends, acquaintances, weavers/makers, collectors, vendors, anthropologists, authors, academics, etc. The index lists people by name as they appear, their occupation or relationship to Bristol (if discernable), locality where they appear, and the page number and notebook in which they appear.

Appendix 6: Supplementary Notebooks Index: This Excel workbook is an index and general summary of the content for all of Bristol’s Supplementary notebooks: Maps and Notes, Fiesta Crafts, Shops, Hotels, Schondube, Flora & Customs, Views, Dance. Each notebook has a separate tab in the workbook. The indexes detail the notebook, main sections and sub-section headers, the locality, page numbers and brief notes where applicable.

Appendix 7: Visual Key to Bristol’s Catalog Cards: This document shows how Frances Bristol’s catalog cards were transcribed into the Logan Museum’s collections management software system (Re:Discovery Proficio). The entire catalog card was transcribed verbatim into the “Notes” field to allow for maximum search results. Then select pieces of information were entered into their corresponding database field.

Appendix 8: Catalog Notebooks Index: This Excel workbook is an index for the catalogs: State of Oaxaca 1 - Huipiles, Skirts, Belts, Bags, Trajes de Hombres, State of Oaxaca 2 - Servilletas y Manteles, Mexican Textiles, Guatemala. It lists each object’s Bristol catalog number and the page on which it appears.

Appendix 9: Paper and Multimedia Archive Finding Aid

Appendix 10: Key to Bristol’s Catalog Numbers: This document is a key to the Bristol’s catalog numbering system.

Appendix 11: Annotated Bibliography: This annotated bibliography, compiled by NEH-funded project consultant Dr. William W. Wood as an additional research aid, includes publications on topics relevant to the Bristol collection including: Oaxacan/Mexican indigenous history, indigenous identity politics, textile production and weaving,textiles and material culture, tourist art, ethno tourism/salvage paradigm, craft markets, and craft production.

Appendix 12: Spanish and Textile Terminology: This document is a list of essential textile terminology and Spanish words for objects found in the collection or Bristol’s documents.

Existence and Location of Copies

Featured digital images from this collection can be viewed in the Beloit College Digital Repository.

Related Materials

Anita Jones Collection of Oaxacan Costumes, San Diego Museum of Man. Anita Jones was Frances Bristol’s friend, traveling companion, and a fellow collector. Bristol and Jones traveled extensively together collecting textiles for over four decades. Anita and her textiles appear throughout Bristol’s records.

Museum Studies Field Excursion to Oaxaca, Mexico (MUST295-C2) Collection, Accession 2018.02, Beloit College. This collection of Oaxacan textiles was acquired by a Beloit College Museum Studies Field Excursion course in the spring of 2018. The textiles in this collection were chosen specifically to complement textiles in the Bristol Collection; depicting continuity and change in contemporary textiles from the same communities where Bristol collected.

Guide to the Frances Bristol Collection
In Progress
Carolyn Jenkinson and Stacey Erdman
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections Repository

700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA