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Archival collections

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How to Search Our Catalogs

Looking for digital images? You can instruct our online catalog to perform an image-only search by adding "jpg" (i.e., JPEG image) to your keyword search string (for example, "Chinese jpg" or "Korean jpg").

Looking for a specific subject? Try a keyword or subject search in SIRIS. Combine keywords (for example, "manuscript" and "maori" or “film” and “Tibet”) to narrow searches that would otherwise result in a large number of search results.

Looking for a catalog record with a video clip.  You can instruct the online catalog to perform a video clip-only search by typing “hsfa video clip” into your keyword search.  Looking for video clip with a specific subject, try a keyword with, for example, “Alaska video clip.” 

Looking for a specific collection? View the NAA Guide to the Collections first. Browse the table of contents by collection title or the name of the creator. Find a keyword within an open file by typing Ctrl-F and a search term (Mac users can type Command-F).

Looking for a specific culture or society? Many of NAA’s catalog records were created more than 100 years ago. They may include ethnonyms that are no longer preferred by members of a particular culture, tribe or ethnic group. It's always useful to try your search with alternate and antiquated terms.


"The Bridegroom's Family Preparing Their Gifts to the Future Bride" by Kisan. Pen and ink, watercolor. Collected by Comm. R. W. Shufeldt at Ch'oryang, South Kyongsang Province, Korea, 1886. MS 211,195.


There are many ways to access the collections. Below are links to our general SIRIS search and specific guides to collections. If you have any questions, feel free to email the NAA or the HSFA.



SIRIS: the Smithsonian Online Catalog

Click here to access anthropological fieldnotes, journals, manuscripts, photographs, moving images, sound recordings, artwork, maps and more than 60,000 digital images are described in the Archival, Manuscript and Photographic Collections catalog. See the sidebar at right for tips on searching.

Guide to the Collections of the National Anthropological Archives

Click here to access the comprehensive, alphabetically arranged guide to more than 650 manuscript and photograph collections acquired before 1996. More recent collections are described in SIRIS, in our finding aids, and in our What's New pages.

Guide to the Human Studies Film Archives

The HSFA Guide, published in 1994, is arranged geographically and indexed by subject and cultural group.  These records along with new ones can be searched in the Smithsonian Information Research Information System, SIRIS There are now over 3,000 HSFA catalog records for the film, video and photograph collections. We strongly suggest that if you consult the Guide that you also search SIRIS for the most up-to-date information.

Palo de Voladores, Manuscript 7408, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian InstitutionNamuka Island, Fiji, 1968, photograph by E. Richard Sorenson, HSFA.


Finding Aids for Individual Collections

Click here to access one of the many finding aids listed in Guide to the Collections of the National Anthropological Archives are currently available online. Additional printed finding aids are available upon request.

Bureau of American Ethnology Publications

An electronic edition of the List of Publications of the Bureau of American Ethnology, With Index to Authors and Titles is available from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Guide to Anthropological Fieldnotes and Manuscripts in Archival Repositories

Click here to access more than 850 anthropological collections in Smithsonian and non-Smithsonian archives are included in this continually updated guide to ethnographic fieldnotes and manuscripts.


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