National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives


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Lieutenant Edwin Bobzien (left) and Technical Sergeant R. A. Stockwell pose with their state-of-the-art camera in front of a Douglas O-2H. Photo by Odd S. Halseth. Charles Lindbergh's high-profile expeditions in Arizona, New Mexico and the Yucatan in the late 1920s piqued interest in the aerial photography of ancient sites.

For further reading:

Woodbury, R. B. 1961.
A Reappraisal of Hohokam Irrigation. American Anthropologist 63: 550-560. [JSTOR access required]

The NAA's latest online exhibit, Lakota Winter Counts, was presented with a UN World Summit Award at a gala event sponsored by the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia on Nov 12. The international competition was created to highlight the world's most creative digital content. Online exhibits and new media products from 168 nations competed for awards in eight categories; Lakota Winter counts was one of only two American projects honored in Tunisia. The award was presented by the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura.


Giving to the Archives

Support the collection and preservation of fieldnotes, photos, sound recordings and moving images that document the world's cultures and the history of anthropology.

More than 500 anthropologists, Native people, and other researchers visit the archives each year. Thousands more receive research support through email. A half million visitors view exhibits and begin their research online. Your tax-deductible gift supports the nation's only anthropological archives.

To give to the archives, mail or fax this donation form, write naa@si.edu, or call the NAA-HSFA director at 301.238.1311.

The Human Studies Film Archives recently acquired Appeals to Santiago (1966) a film co-produced by Duane Metzger and George Carter Wilson (shown above) that explores an eight-day Maya Indian festival through the participants' perspectives. Wilson also donated his original film, audio recordings, still photographs and production records.

Robert Laughlin, a Smithsonian anthropologist who specializes in Mayan ethnology, called the film "an extraordinary documentary filmed in the Tzeltal town of Tenejapa, Chiapas, at a time when the community did not allow photography. For those of us who have witnessed the changes over the past forty years, the film is very moving." 


On the Home Page
Two drawings depicting armed conflict from Battiste Good's winter count, one of 10 pictographic calendars featured in Lakota Winter Counts, our new online exhibit.


Helen Rountree spoke about The Representation and Misrepresentation of Virginia Indians at the Virginia Festival of the Book (March 2005). Her talk begins at 25:42.


Newly Accessible Film

The Human Studies Film Archives has been mastering the television travelogue series independently produced by Hal and Halla Linker, including "Savage Warriors of New Guinea" (shown above). Additional titles now available include:

  • Adventure on the Amazon
  • Amazon Indian Adventure
  • Austria Nobody Knows
  • Bastille Day in Tahiti
  • Bazaars of Bamako
  • Borneo Adventure
  • Brasilia, Black Gold
  • Caravan to Kabul
  • Crown Jewels of Persia
  • Dancing Monks of Katmandu
  • Durban Zulus
  • Formosa
  • Four Faces of Siva
  • Greek Odyssey
  • Jungle Rites of Guatemala
  • Kashmir Adventure
  • Lion of Spain
  • Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt
  • Polynesians of Madagascar
  • South of Zamboango
  • Swiss Bliss
  • Volcano Adventure in Iceland

"The Reel Thing" Explores Preservation Technologies

The HSFA was represented at the association of Moving Image Archivists annual meeting in a six hour program entitled "The Reel Thing," devoted to new film and video preservation technologies and techniques. A film-to-video tape transfer of the HSFA's film, Bering Sea Eskimos (1968), was presented as an innovative project. Panelists discussed he challenge of successfully matching the Kasigluk villagers' annotation of the film and a new video transfer, recorded at two correct, but different, speeds.

Frederica de Laguna in 1993. Photograph by Bill Roth. Courtesy Anchorage Daily News.

Frederica de Laguna discussed the repatriation of human remains in a 1997 letter to the Alaska Daily News, which was reprinted in part on Oct. 12, 2004.


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Landmark Aerial Survey of Prehistoric Arizona Canals

An aerial photo survey of the Hohokam canals — a prehistoric irrigation system in the Salt and Gila river valleys of Arizona that may once have irrigated more than 100,000 acres — has been preserved through the cooperation of the National Anthropological Archives, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. The survey was one of the earliest uses of aerial photography for archaeological research. It was conducted in 1930 under the direction of Smithsonian archaeologist Neil M. Judd (1887-1976) in response to concern that hundreds of miles of the ancient canals, constructed by the Hohokam people between 500 AD and 700 AD, would be destroyed by encroaching urban development.

Judd joined the project after meeting City of Phoenix archaeologist Odd S. Halseth at the Pecos Conference in 1929. With the assistance of Arizona senator Carl Hayden, who had a deep interest in archaeology, Judd convinced the War Department to conduct the survey. The following January, two Air Service pilots shot a detailed aerial record that consisted of approximately 1,500 vertical and oblique images on highly sensitive film. Once the images were printed and joined into mosaics (as in this example), the survey revealed clear traces of canals in areas where historic cultivation may have been in progress for more than 50 years. The survey also settled inconsistencies in canal maps produced by earlier scholars.

Most of the original nitrate negatives, however, were never printed, so a digitization project was conceived late last year — 75 years after the original aerial survey — by archaeologists Todd Bostwick (City of Phoenix) and Richard Boston (Bureau of Reclamation). The Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park generously offered to fund the project and a complete set of digital images will be maintained by the museum and the NAA. The story of the aerial survey of the Hohokum canals is now the subject of a groundbreaking exhibit at the Pueblo Grande Museum, Flight Over Phoenix, which provides a detailed view of the canals prior to the area's urban growth.

Papers of William A. Smalley, Hmong Linguist

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the professional papers of Dr. William Allan Smalley (1923-1997), an anthropological linguist and missionary. Smalley received his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1956. He was responsible for developing the Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA), the most widely used Hmong writing system.

Born in Jerusalem, Palestine, to missionary parents in 1923, Smalley conducted research on Comanche phonology and morphology (1948-49) and the Vietnamese and Sre languages of Vietnam and Laos (1950-54). In 1951, Smalley began study of the Khmu language on behalf of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Luang Prabang, the capital of Laos. It was there that Smalley and his colleagues Yves Bertrais and Rev. G. Linwood Barney developed RPA, a simplified Hmong orthography that relies on the Latin alphabet and uses final consonants to mark tonal differences. On his return to the United States, Smalley began work as a translations consultant for the American Bible Society in Haiti and Africa (1955-72). He helped found the journal Practical Anthropology (now Missiology) and served as its editor for several years. From 1968 to 1987, Smalley taught linguistics and anthropology at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., which honored him with its Faculty Excellence Award in 1986.

Dr. Smalley is the author of 15 books including Orthography Studies: Articles on New Writing Systems (1964); Manual Of Articulatory Phonetics (with George Ivan Smith, 1973); Mother Of Writing: The Origin and Development of a Hmong Messianic Script (with Chia Koua Vang, Gnia Yee Yang, and Mitt Moua, 1990); Translation As Mission: Bible Translation in the Modern Missionary Movement (1991); and Linguistic Diversity and National Unity: Language Ecology in Thailand (1994). He is also the editor of Phonemes and Orthography in Eight Marginal Languages Of Thailand (1967); On Language, Culture And Religion (with Matthew Black, 1974); Culture and Human Values: Christian Intervention in Anthropological Perspective (with Jacob A. Loewen, 1975); Phonemes and Orthography: Language Planning in Ten Minority Languages of Thailand (1976); and Readings In Missionary Anthropology II (1978).

Dr. Smalley's papers were donated to the archives by his daughter, Carol J. Smalley of Bend, Oregon, with the assistance of an Historical Archives Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Archives Acquires Helen C. Rountree Fieldnotes on Southeastern Indians

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the professional papers of Dr. Helen C. Rountree, professor emerita of anthropology at Old Dominion University and an honorary member of the Nansemond and Upper Mattaponi tribes. Dr. Rountree, a leading expert on Pocahontas, is the author of numerous works on the Algonquian-speaking Indians of the Southeast, including Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (1990); The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture (1992); Powhatan Foreign Relations, 1500-1722 (1993); Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland (with Thomas E. Davidson, 1997); Before and After Jamestown: Virginia's Powhatans And Their Predecessors (with Turner E. Randolph, 2002); and Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown (2005)

The Helen Rountree collection includes fieldnotes, correspondence, and audio cassette tapes relating to her fieldwork among the Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Upper Mattaponi, Nansemond, Rappahannock, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Monacan, as well as the area around Nottoway Reservation and Gingaskin Reservation. The collection also includes Rountree's audio tapes (mainly meetings and other public events) and audio tapes recorded among the Western Shoshone, Duck Valley Reservation, Nevada.

Forensic Anthropologist Ted Rathbun Donates Professional Papers to the Smithsonian

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the professional papers of Dr. Ted A. Rathbun, distinguished professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Rathbun was a research associate of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology; director of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (1985-91); and for fifteen years a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences . In 1996, Rathbun was named Scudder Professor for his sustained excellence in teaching and mentoring, and his contributions beyond the university. In 2005, he was honored by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences with the T. Dale Stewart Award — its highest honor in Forensic Anthropology — for his lifetime achievements and contributions to the field.

Rathbun conducted research on topics as wide-ranging as population growth in Iran; the physical characteristics of Woodland Indians; Coastal South Carolina paleopathology; growth rates among ancient urban states; shark attacks and human remains; social class and health; the history of African American health; and predynastic cemeteries at Hierakonpolis, Upper Egypt. He served as a consulting physical anthropologist to the Charleston County Medical Examiner (1973-93); Deputy State Archaeologist for Forensics (1985-2000); and Consultant to the U.S. Military Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (1990-2003). He also participated in the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) efforts for identification of the victims of September 11.

Rathbun is the author of An Analysis of the Physical Characteristics of the Ancient Inhabitants of Hasanlu, Iran (1972); A Study of the Physical Characteristics of the Ancient Inhabitants of Kish, Iraq (1975); Preliminary Archaeological Investigations at the Callawassie Burial Mound (38BU19), Beaufort County, South Carolina (with Mark J. Brooks, Larry Lepionka and John Goldsborough, Jr., 1982); and the editor (with Jane Buikstra) of Human Identification: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology (1984).

The Rathbun papers contain fieldnotes, primary data, correspondence, publications, lecture notes and notes taken as a student, grant applications, and correspondence and other materials relating to his service in national and international associations.

Register to the Papers of Frederica de Laguna

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce the availability of a Register to the Papers of Frederica de Laguna (1906–2004), a pioneering American archaeologist and ethnographer of the Northwest Coast. Known as Freddy by her friends, de Laguna was one of the last students of Franz Boas. She conducted fieldwork in France, Alaska and Greenland and published works in all four fields of anthropology, including Chugash Prehistory (1956); The Story of a Tlingit Community: A Problem in the Relationship between Archeological, Ethnological and Historical Methods (1960); Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology (1977); Tales from the Dena (1995); Travels among the Dena: Exploring Alaska's Yukon Valley (2000). Among her publications are three novels and more than 100 scholarly papers and book reviews.

De Laguna's monumental three-volume ethnography, Under Mount Saint Elias: the History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit (Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology, 1972), proved the enormous range of her talents, combining natural history, archaeology, ethnology, and oral tradition. "Much more than in her previous books," wrote Catherine McClellan, a colleague and former student,

in this one she allows the people to speak for themselves, quoting the words of various informants to illustrate her understanding of their customs, intellectual beliefs and values. The first two volumes contain exhaustive information on the natural environment and documented history of Yakutat and on all aspects of traditional culture. The third part comprises 218 plates of historical photographs and others taken mostly by Freddy herself, for she is an excellent photographer. In addition, it has an appendix of 138 songs that she recorded and which are transcribed by David P. McAllester.

The work is ample proof that when she goes into the field Freddy never decides on a single narrow "problem" to be pursued above all others. Like Boas and Kroeber she first tries to gain as complete information as possible on all parts of the culture, believing that only such a broad sweep can reveal the true relationships and flux of its various parts, both its outer manifestations and inner values and emotions.

De Laguna founded the Department of Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she taught from 1938 to 1972. She served as first vice-president of the Society for American Archaeology (1949-50) and as president of the American Anthropological Association (1966-67), from which she received the Distinguished Service Award in 1986. In 1975, de Laguna and Margaret Mead (a former classmate) were the first women to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. 

The Papers of Frederica de Laguna were processed, arranged and described by Lorain Wang with financial support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

New Ethnographic Film Collections

The final body of John Marshall's original film, video and audio documenting the Ju/'hoansi, a band of San hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari Desert, was recently deposited in the Human Studies Film Archives by Documentary Educational Resources, the ethnographic and documentary film distribution company founded by Marshall and Timothy Asch. The collection, produced between 1981-2000, includes 23 edited films, 94 hours of unedited film and audio recordings, 713 hours of original video, as well as transcriptions, production logs and field journals. The film archives already maintains the 488,000 feet of unedited film (226 hours) that Marshall shot between 1951-1978.

The Marshall film record is unique for its comprehensive visual and audio documentation of a single society over a period of nearly 50 years. Marshall returned to the footage he archived in the HSFA to produce A Kalahari Family, "the extraordinary story of the Ju/'hoansi, beginning with their experiences as independent, self-sufficient hunter-gatherers, continuing through the wrenching changes of dispossession and militarization, and culminating with their attempts to establish viable farming settlements." 

Film, audio recordings, and computer analysis from the research of visual anthropologist Paul Byers (1920-2001), a specialist in non-verbal communication, multiculturalism and childhood education who taught anthropology at Teacher's College of Columbia University, were recently donated to the HSFA by Byer's widow, Lucy Schneider. Byers, a former WWII cryptanalyst and photographer, was working in Australia as a magazine correspondent and photographer when he met Margaret Mead. During their ten-year collaboration, Byers and Mead developed techniques for using still photography to record human behavior. The results of their work were published as The Small Conference. An Innovation in Communication (1968). Byers later studied linguistic-kinesic context analysis under Ray Birdwhistell and Albert Scheflen (1961-64). In 1970, he received an NIMH grant to study "Rhythms of Communication." The Paul Byers collection also includes a video oral history with Paul Byers made by Alison Jablonko in 2000.  

The archives has also acquired Potters of Japan (1968) a two-part film that documents the techniques of seven illustrous Japanese potters, including Kei Fujiwara (1899-1983), Takuo Kato (1917-2005), and Yuzo Kondo (1902-1985), each of whom has been recognized with the honorable title Living National Treasure (Ningen Kokuho) by the Japanese government. Shot in various locations in Japan, the films reveal the influence that Japanese pottery has had on ceramics throughout the world and provide insight into Japanese culture through the potters' ceramic methods and philosophies. A particular attraction of the films is the firing of multi-chambered Japanese kilns. Potters of Japan was produced by Indiana artist Richard Peeler (1926-1998) and donated to the archives by his wife, Marj Peeler, also a potter.

Photographer Richard Carver Wood's Colombia, Land of Coffee (ca. 1940), a film depicting coffee production in Columbia, was recently donated to the Human Studies Film Archives, along with and associated photographs, by the filmmaker's daughter, Patsy Asch. The archives will preserve the only known copy of this film.

May Mandelbaum Edel Papers

The National Anthropological Archives recently acquired portions of the professional papers of May Mandelbaum Edel (1909-1964), an anthropologist who conducted research among the Okanagan Indians of Washington (1930), the Tillamook of Oregon (1931), the Chiga of Uganda (1933), and a Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York (1947). According to Ruth Bunzel, Edel was the first American woman anthropologist to live in an African village. The results of her research there were published as The Chiga of Western Uganda (1957). Edel is also the author of Anthropology and Ethics: the Quest for Moral Understanding (revised ed. 1968), written with her husband, the philosopher Abraham Edel, as well as two children's books: The Story of People: Anthropology for Young People (1953) and The Story of Our Ancestors (1955).

Blacklisted from university teaching from 1941 to 1956 because of her political activism, Edel taught adult education classes on Long Island. In 1956, she returned to teaching anthropology at the New School for Social Research, and in 1960 she was asked to establish a separate anthropology program in the sociology department at Newark College of Rutgers University.

The Edel papers include her ethnographic notes on the Okanagan and fieldnotes from Brownsville, a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, that Edel studied in 1947 for the Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures Project, a culture-at-a-distance project supervised by Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict and funded by the Human Resources Division, U.S. Office of Naval Research. The results of this research were published as Life is With People: The Culture of the Shtetl, edited by Mark Zborowski and Elizabeth Herzog. (Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett provides a fascinating introduction to the study in the revised edition from Shocken Books.)

Also included are Edel's notes on lectures delivered by her teachers Franz Boas ("Anthropological Methods" and "Primitive Art") and Ruth Benedict ("Speculative Thought of Primitive Peoples"), plus student research methods projects such as "The Bolum Language: A Preliminary Analysis" (written for Boas in 1929 with the assistance of a Sierra Leonean informant residing in New York) and an analysis of Kru kinship (evidently derived from Edel's work with Mr. Thorgues Sie, a Liberian whose manuscript "A Sketch of My Education Career" accompanies Edel's papers). Correspondence between Boas and Melville Herskovits may also be found in the Edel papers.

The NAA's acquisition of the Edel papers complements other collections of Edel field materials deposited in the American Museum of Natural History, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Chiga fieldnotes) and the University of Washington Archives and Special Collections (Tillamook language materials). Papers related to her union activism and political life are in the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University.

Riva Berleant-Schiller Papers Document Caribbean Societies

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the professional papers of Dr. Riva Berleant-Schiller (Ph.D. SUNY-Stony Brook), professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Connecticut and a specialist in plantation systems and peasant systems of land use and tenure in Caribbean societies. She is the author of Montserrat: A Critical Bibliography (1991); Antigua and Barbuda: A Critical Bibliography (1995); and the editor of The Keeping of Animals: Adaptation and Social Relations in Livestock-Producing Communities (1983).

Dr. Berleant-Schiller's collection includes her fieldnotes, correspondence, maps and documents relating to research on the islands of Barbuda (1971, 1973, 1977, 1987), Dominica (1977), Montserrat (1979) and Nevis (1987). Also included are copies of the newspaper Barbuda Voice.

Staff News

The archives bids a fond farewell to Becky Malinsky. After six years in our digital imaging lab, Becky has accepted a position as animal keeper at the National Zoo. We wish her well in her new position.

Robert Leopold gave a talk on "Endangered Languages Documentation in the National Anthropological Archives" at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network (DELAMAN) in Austin in November and a talk titled "From the Paperless Office to the Paper-free Archive" at a panel sponsored by the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records (CoPAR) at the American Anthropological Association Meetings in Washington, D.C. in December.

Mark Matienzo is cataloging Plains Indian ledger art for the ARTstor Project as well as sound recordings, moving images, and linguistic materials for the archives' Endangered Languages Program.

Daisy Njoku gave a presentation on copyright and cultural protocols to students taking a course on moving image and archive preservation copyright at New York University's Tisch School.

Intern Lauren Grace (University of Maryland) has been inventorying and cataloging sound recordings of endangered languages. Ye Gee Kwon (George Washington University) processed the archival records of explorer-filmmaker Hassoldt Davis. Bianca Santos (Rice University) and Christina Smiraglia (GWU) are assisting with the digitization of 8,000 pages of Cherokee language manuscripts.

Pam Wintle was selected to represent the Association of Moving Image Archivists on the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board for a second term. The Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington, made the final selection. She has also been named to the Advisory Board of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, hosted by Ithaca College. Pam also presented a paper on preservation and access of ethnographic film and video collections in the age of digitization for a Wenner-Gren funded workshop held in conjunction with the Royal Anthropological Institute's biennial ethnographic film festival held at Oxford University.

Pam Wintle and Jake Homiak served as creative consultants for Dismantling War: A Cantata in Five Movements, a live multimedia remix project for which the Human Studies Film Archives contributed film of Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, Tibet and Yugoslavia before they experienced wars and atrocities. The performance, produced and directed by former HSFA fellow Patricia R. Zimmermann and sponsored by the Office of the Provost of Ithaca College, is a part of the Onward Project, a research initiative exploring archival film, critical historiography, music, performance and digital technologies.

More News ...

Publication date: January 2006


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