Tony Powell-Cotton, together with her sister Diana, made collecting trips to southwest Angola in 1936 and 1937. They returned with thousands of artefacts and photographs, and made a number of films. They also created an important written archive which includes their diaries, copious notes on a wide variety of topics and lists of vocabulary.
Tony was born in 1913, she disliked her full name Antoinette and was referred to as 'Tony' throughout her life. She grew up at Quex Park, the Powell-Cotton Museum was built in the grounds of the family home.
Tony's interest in ethnographic collections lead to her volunteering at the Pitt Rivers Museum where she attended Arthur Balfour's lectures. In 1935 she undertook a a collecting trip to South Africa with her father.
During World War II Tony volunteered as a first aider and then trained and worked as a nurse in London. It seems, from the PCM archive that she continued to work on documenting the Angolan artefacts during this time, creating a set of index cards that remain in the museum.
In the 1950s Tony returned to Quex Park to care for her mother. She became increasingly interested in archaeology and carried out some important excavations at local sites, notably Minnis Bay.
There is a short biography of Tony included in the Powell-Cotton archive. We believe this to have been written by, or based on information supplied by, her younger brother Christopher. Please scroll down and click on 'Other Media' to see it in full.