The Human Studies Film Archives is an internationally recognized
center devoted to collecting, preserving, documenting and disseminating
a broad range of ethnographic and anthropological moving image materials.
In addition to archiving film and video materials, the HSFA strives
to obtain related documentation including audio tapes, stills, manuscripts
and other associated texts, field notes, camera and sound logs, and
production logs. Whenever possible, synchronous audio commentaries
(annotations) are obtained from the creator or other person associated
with the material or from an individual with knowledge of the contents.
This supplemental data expands the richness of the collections, providing
the context from which these images can be endlessly explored.
The HSFA collections are in two parts: the archival collection and
the study collection. Preservation (as well as access) is a key concern
for the archival collection, which is composed of a wide range of
physical materials. The study collection, on the other hand, is comprised
of edited film prints and videos which are, to our knowledge, protected
elsewhere. Preservation is therefore not an active concern for the
study collection, although, if we learn that a title is in fact "endangered,"
we strive to locate the best surviving copies for preservation. Reference
copies exist on many but not all of the titles in the archival collection
and for all titles in the study collection. (As with other archival
organizations, the HSFA produces reference copies as quickly as possible
but production is subject to funds, staff time, and various archival
considerations.) The HSFA focuses on ethnographic and anthropological
films and videos as well as those of ethnographic interest. The collections
are, however, of multidisciplinary interest, linked by some element
of "actuality" and depiction of cultures or cultural artifacts.
Much of the collections also share the qualities of "orphan films,"
a term coined in the new film preservation report from the Library
of Congress, Redefining Film Preservation: A National Plan; Recommendations
of the Librarian of Congress in consultation with the National Film
Preservation Board. This report defines orphan films as "...newsreel
and actuality footage of social importance held in nonprofit and government
organizations; films that have fallen into the public domain; independently
produced avant- garde and experimental films; socially significant
home movies, particularly those documenting ethnic and minority communities;
... educational ... films of historical and cultural interest; independent
fiction and documentary films made and distributed outside the commercial
mainstream ... and commercially produced works whose owners are unwilling
or unable to provide long-term preservation." Accepting this
definition and taking it a step further, the HSFA is an orphanage
whose brilliant charges are awaiting discovery.
Among some of the more surprising films in the collections are amateur
films which are often far richer than might be expected. Among HSFA's
amateur moving images are those produced by scientists during fieldwork
or by their associates or visitors. These images may have been used
in the classroom, further studied for scientific work, excerpted for
presentations, or used to entertain colleagues, friends and family.
Often we find that these films have been rarely seen, are unique images
of various cultural groups, represent little-known work of scientists,
and visually document some aspect of scientific process. Other amateur
films were made by people (mostly Americans) living or travelling
abroad who filmed their surroundings. Those who lived abroad often
captured more intimate images not easily accessible to the transient
traveler who, most likely, stuck to familiar tourist routes. As the
travel component of these films has grown, it has become possible
to compare the films, viewing how "the exotic other" displayed
themselves for the tourist, locating routes most travelled, and studying
the tourists' viewpoints. New avenues of investigation stemming from
the ability to comparatively study amateur travel films (particularly
from the first half of this century) will continue to emerge as the
Travelogues produced by both professional and amateur travel-lecturers
for theatrical release, as well as for school, club and church distribution
and presentations and for the home market, have also proven to be
far more intriguing than might be expected. Some do, of course, capture
only superficial tourist interests, but others, particularly from
the earlier part of the century, document a surprising richness of
cultural and historical activities. Of particular note are pre-thirties
travelogues by Burton Holmes, of which the HSFA has several examples.
These are beautifully photographed and focus on cultural activities
as well as the better known touristic sights. Travelogues have been
little researched; their makers are virtually unknown and the exhibition
practices and audiences are little understood. Knowledge of the history
of these films will provide a greater understanding of the impact
of these films on America's interest in "the other," giving
a basis for other forms of research.
Outtake film collections from documentary and ethnographic film projects
are among the largest single "films" or "videos"
in the HSFA collections. These outtake collections contain a wealth
of documentation and present the thorniest archival problems--but
that is for another article. The outtake collections are paired with
the edited films, which will facilitate generations of modes of inquiry
not yet devised. Highlights include the seminal work of many well
known ethnographic filmmakers, including John Marshall (450,000 feet
of film, primarily of the !Kung San in the Nyae Nyae region of the
Kalahari, shot during the fifties and in 1978), Timothy Asch (97,000
feet of film shot of the Yanomamo of the Amazon Basin of southern
Venezuela and northern Brazil, in association with anthropologist
Napoleon Chagnon), David MacDougall (two African film projects, one
of the Jie of Uganda in 1968 and the other of the Turkana of Kenya
in 1974) and Robert Gardner (22,000 feet of film of the world's oldest
surviving ritual, the Agnicayana, filmed in Kerala, India, in association
with anthropologist Frits Staal).
Other large film and video groupings include "research film records"
which were produced as a means to document and study indigenous and
little changed cultures. Most of these records were produced either
by the former National Anthropological Film Center, or in association
with the National Institutes of Health, or independently by anthropologists.
Extensive and significant coverage includes the Newari in the Kathmandu
Valley, Nepal; Tibetans in Ladakh and southern India; Canela Indians,
a Ge speaking tribe, in northeastern Brazil; Micronesians on primarily
Woleai and Ifalik Atolls; various groups in Papua New Guinea; the
Pashtoon Nomads of northern Afghanistan; and various African groups
in southwestern Africa.
Among the edited films--both sound and silent--in the collection are
independent documentaries and ethnographic films, instructional media
(educational and industrial films), local and network television broadcasts,
theatrical and non-theatrical exploration documentaries, and pre-twenties
actuality films. There are also a few fiction films and quasi-documentaries
suitably placed in the HSFA collections because of their content.
Most recent of these is a c. 1910 Selig Polyscope one-reeler (as yet
unidentified) which depicts a supposed American Indian raiding party
attacking a settler's cabin. (Colonel Selig employed American Indians
for his western pictures shot in California). Also, along this line
is another early film, YE OLD TIME COON HUNT, which reenacts a coon
hunt with white and black men ending with a celebration with black
men "shaking the dog," a style of southern black dance.
Both films blend actuality (perhaps unintended) with fiction, making
them fascinating documents.
The film and video titles are organized by major geographical areas
with individual titles listed chronologically by film number within
the appropriate area. In the index, this film number is preceded by
a two-letter code that refers the user to the appropriate geographical
The entries can be understood as follows:
Film Numbers, which precede each title, are the accession
numbers assigned to each film or video.
Titles represent two major sub-collections within
the Film Archives: the archival collection and the study collection.
Titles in the study collection are denoted by an * following the title.
In general, the Film Archives has no archival materials other than
a reference copy on these films or videos. Titles in upper-case are
the formal or published title; titles in upper-case with "(outtakes)"
following is footage not used in the finished production; titles listed
using upper-case only at the beginning of words is the title by which
the film or film project was known; and titles in brackets are supplied
titles created by the Film Archives.
Year of Creation is the copyright or publication
date, if known, or is based on information provided by the creator.
If the date is unknown a "c" (circa) is placed before a
date based on visual content, the physical film, and documentation.
If the date of filming is known to be different from the copyright
or published date, that information is included in the description.
Length or Running Time can be fairly exact or approximate.
Footage, whether the film is 35mm, 8mm, or 16mm is calculated in 16mm
footage. If only footage is listed, the title was acquired on film
and if only time is listed, the title was acquired on video. Footage
with time listed in parentheses is the running time of the video reference
copy which can differ from the standard 24 frames per second if the
film was shot at silent speed and transferred to video at silent speed.
Silent or Sound indicates the existence of sound
on a film or video recording. In some cases the title can be both
silent and sound.
Color or Black and White (B&W) indicates whether
the materials are in color and/or b&w.
Film of Video following the "color" or
"b&w" characteristic indicates whether there is a film
and/or video reference (viewing) copy. If no listing is found there
was no reference copy at the time this Guide was published. However,
because reference copies are continually being produced it is worth
checking with the HSFA staff.
Supplementary Materials indicate the existence of
various accompanying materials organized under the following numerical
1. Associated texts such as publications including books, study guides,
film reviews, and articles; theses and dissertations; translations;
manuscripts; written annotations; and publicity materials.
2. Still film such as transparencies, photographs, and negatives.
3. Sound recordings such as 1/4 inch audio tapes of synchronized sound
and "wild" or additional sound including interviews, music,
ambient sound and audio cassettes including interviews, music and
4. Annotations (recorded narratives) provided by person who was responsible
for or was closely involved with the filming or a knowledgeable person
and/or recorded translations. These audio recordings, produced mostly
by the Human Studies Film Archives, are usually synchronous with the
5. Production logs such as shot lists, editor's logs and sound logs.
6. Field notes such as paper records written in the field including
camera logs, field notes, kinship documentation, diaries, and letters.
Descriptions incorporate the geographical name at
the time of recording with the contemporary name following in parenthesis.
Ethnic group names and spellings may not always be those preferred
by group members themselves. The Film Archives asks indulgence while
we strive to develop an authority file which addresses these concerns.
Each record begins with a standard characteristic of the collection
being described which is explained below. (There are a few records
which due to their characteristics are uniquely qualified in the opening
Full Film/Video Record indicates that the whole film
or video project exists, usually in the order in which it was shot.
Outtakes indicate the existence of all the film or
video project minus that footage used for the finished production.
Edited Film/Video indicates a published title in
that the title is or has been distributed.
Television Broadcast indicates an edited program
produced specifically for broadcasting on television.
Footage refers primarily to film that is not defined
by the above categories. In general the term includes amateur and
other film/video that has not been altered substantially.
Creators are noted below the description and include
individuals or individual involved in the creation of the film or
video title with their professional role in that production, or, in
the case of amateur works, professional identity at the time of filmming
or video recording. Birth and/or death dates are noted when known.
Indexes direct the user to the titles via the film
number within the major geographical areas. These indexes are not
exhaustive but represent the level of cataloging completed to date.
For example, there is much more dance material in the collection than
is listed because fully descriptive and item level cataloging and
subject indexing exist for only a small portion of the collections.
Guide to the Human Studies Film Archives is a revised version
of the printed edition written by Pamela Wintle and John P. Homiak
(Washington: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution,