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Drawing of Native American woman

The Taylor Album includes images of Native Americans in stereotypical guises that range from savage to Noble Savage, as in this drawing by an unidentified artist.

James E. Taylor in his New York studio

James E. Taylor in his New York studio. Photograph courtesy Richard W. Taylor.

Portrait of Irving Goldman

Anthropologist Irving Goldman, photographed about 1969.



Arrow  Maker intertitle

Life on the Border. 35mm toned print. 10 minutes.

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Indians hunting a bear arrive at a settler’s cabin where they find alcohol. Drunk, they set fire to the cabin and barn, unaware that a woman had been accidentally locked in the barn and her daughter was hiding just outside it. While working in the forest, the woman's husband senses trouble and returns home, just in time to save his family from the flames.

On the Home Page
Korean official and servant. One of a series of 18 watercolor paintings on mulberry paper collected by William Woodville Rockhill, secretary of the U.S. Legation to China (1884-88). Ms. 7339.


Postcard of Egypt

Postcard of Egypt from the Charles W. Frost Collection, ca. 1926

More New Acquisitions
NAA and HSFA collections received between 1997 and 2002 are listed here.




Portrait of Pela-la-sha-ra

Peta-la-sha-ra (Man And Chief), by Julian Vannerson of the James E. McClees studio, is featured in a forthcoming book by NAA photo archivist Paula Fleming.




Unjpp-sa temple, early 1900s

The Eugene I. Knez Papers include several albums of historic Korean photos. Above, Unjoo-sa temple, North Cholla, Korea, circa early 1900s.



SIRIS homepage

The Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) includes 100,000 records describing NAA and HSFA collections, plus more than 25,000 digital images.


February Pick:
Most Entertaining Online Ethnography

When the urge for onomatopoeia strikes, look no further. This ingenious site features the voices of children from around the world reproducing the sounds of animals and vehicles.


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New Online Exhibit: Drawing the Western Frontier

One of the archive's most important albums, Our Wild Indians in Peace and War, is featured in a new online exhibit about the work of James E. Taylor, a 19th century illustrator who accompanied William T. Sherman as a Civil War artist and later produced illustrations for Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Taylor's personal scrapbook contains images of Western personalities, military activities, gold mining, and daily life in Native American, Chinese, Latino and Mormon communities, as well as his own drawings, newspaper clippings, letters and autographs.

Drawing the Western Frontier: The James E. Taylor Album includes original tintypes of Wild Bill Hickok, an early image of Buffalo Bill Cody, photographs by Adrian Ebell taken before the Sioux Revolt of 1862, Elizabeth Custer's favorite portrait of her husband, and other famous Western personalities. While Taylor's drawings based upon these images informed a curious public about life in the West, they also fostered stereotypes of Native Americans, many of which can be examined through the online exhibit. Drawing the Western Frontier links to an online catalog of 748 digital images and a selection of original album pages that show how Taylor assembled his vast personal collection of photographs, illustrations and Western memorabilia.

Papers of Irving Goldman Donated to NAA

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the professional papers of Irving Goldman (1911-2002), formerly professor of anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College and the New School for Social Research. Among Goldman’s most widely-known publications are The Cubeo: Indians of the Northwest Amazon, an account of the tribe's life and religion, The Mouth of Heaven, a reinterpretation of research on Kwakiutl potlatch, and Ancient Polynesian Society, an analysis of the region's status systems.

The Irving Goldman Papers (1935-1988) include fieldnotes relating to his research in Polynesia and among the Cubeo in the Northwest Amazon (Colombia), as well as photographs, film, correspondence and sound recordings. Read more about Irving Goldman ...

Life on the Border: A Film History Mystery

In 1994, when the film archives discovered that it was the recipient of a Selig Polyscope one-reeler of a Native American–themed story, circa 1910, we were ecstatic. Although the film departed from the archive's collecting policy, the film’s fictional portayal of Native Americans and its early production date presented a unique opportunity to preserve an example of American film production in its infancy. Less than 20% of films produced before 1920 are known to exist. Because the film was incomplete and missing its opening credits, it became known as The Arrow Maker, based on its first intertitle. Working with the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute (which organized the National Film Archives of Australia’s film repatration program, through which our archives received the film), our staff tried to identify the film, but without success.

Happily, in late 2002, Jeffrey Look (a great great nephew of Colonel Selig, the founder of Selig Polyscope) discovered The Arrow Maker while searching the web. He notified Sally Dumaux (author of King Baggot: The First King of the Movies), who determinedly set about identifying this film. Dumaux discovered the answer in the book King Cowboy: Tom Mix and the Movies, by film historian Robert F. Birchard. The book's exhaustive filmography credits Mix with the minor role of an Indian Chief in a Selig Polyscope film called Life on the Border (1911), with Charles Clary and Kathlyn Williams. The Arrow Maker, now correctly identified as Life on the Border, is one of only a handful of the 1600 films made by Selig Polyscope that are known to exist.

Although Life on the Border's depiction of Indians is offensive, the film presents a rare glimpse of ethnic representation in early American cinema and contributes to the scholarly record of American entertainment. The original nitrate film was preserved with a grant from Smithsonian Research Resources. A video is also available for reference use.

Around the Mediterranean with Charles W. Frost

Louise W. Besch has donated amateur travel films made by her grandfather, Charles W. Frost, former publisher of the Courier-News of Plainfield, New Jersey. The films were shot on a Mediterranean cruise in 1926 and depict street scenes, historical and archaeological sites, and port stops around the Mediterranean. The collection also includes still photographs, postcards, letters, shipboard itineraries and guide booklets; photographs taken by Frost's father, George, on an earlier Mediterranean trip in 1913, as well as Frost’s 9.5mm Baby Pathex camera and projector.

The 9.5mm film format is considered by many to be the first truly amateur film, coming on the market in late 1922 just months before Eastman Kodak’s 16mm amateur film format became available. Developed in France by Pathe Freres, 9.5mm never achieved the popularity of 16mm film in the U.S., although it was extremely popular in Europe, where there are still many devoted 9.5mm film club members. The Besch collection is the film archives' second collection of 9.5mm film; the other is a collection of European travel films taken ca. 1935 to 1978 by Albert Gunther Hess, a German Jewish refugee to the U.S. in 1940.

Smithsonian's First Photograph Exhibit Featured in Forthcoming Book

In January of 1865, a tragic fire in the gallery of the Smithsonian Castle destroyed an exhibit of paintings of Native Americans. When the gallery was rebuilt in the late 1860s, the museum exhibited its first photographic exhibit, which likely was also the first photographic exhibit in an American museum. It contained over 300 images of Native Americans, including portraits of delegates who came to Washington, D.C. to negotiate treaties as well as images copied from various western photographers.

Native American Photography at the Smithsonian: The Shindler Catalogue is a fully illustrated version of the catalog that accompanied the exhibit by photographer Antonio Zeno Shindler. The book has been painstakingly researched by photo archivist Paula Fleming, who has identified, credited and dated the photographs, reassociating the images with their original catalog entries. Fleming's account of the Smithsonian's core photographic collection and its first photography exhibit will be published by Smithsonian Institution Press in May 2003.

Glynn Isaac, Eugene Knez Papers Catalogued

In addition to our online finding aids, more than 200 finding aids mentioned in Guide to the Collections of the National Anthropological Archives are available by writing, calling or visiting the archives.

Smithsonian's Online Catalog Redesigned

The Smithsonian's newly redesigned archives and libraries online catalog offers researchers many new search options. You can now browse digital images by format or repository, providing easy access thousands of images now available via the online catalog. Another new search tool is the combined search screen, where you can link searches (such as creator, subject and title) that formerly required separate searches.

The combined search is useful for narrowing the number of search results. The new search history screen allows you to return to earlier searches. And if you're uncertain about which term to use, there is always the browse option, which provides an alphabetical list of creators (last name, first name) or subjects to guide your search. Along the way, just click the Add to My List button to send the results of your search to your e-mail account.

Now Available: 50,000 Digital Images

The imaging program is pleased to announce a new milestone: the creation of the 50,000th digital image from the NAA's artwork and photographic collections. These high-resolution images are available for researchers to view when visiting the archives. Approximately 25,000 of them are also available online on SIRIS, the Smithsonian's online catalogue, where they are linked to descriptive catalog records. (To view an example of historic maps from our collections, click here.) A digital image gallery organized by creator (photographer or artist), collection name and culture group is also available.

Historic and contemporary ethnographic images may be purchased from the archives for research and publication. Look here for ordering instructions for TIFFs, JPEGs, and inkjet prints.

New: Early Color Slides of Tibet

The NAA has received a collection of 146 early color slides shot by Robert Ekvall in Tibet in the 1920s and 1930s. Ekvall and his wife Betty traveled to the Tibetan Plateau on the Chinese/Tibetan border with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, eventually establishing a mission station in Tibet. In addition to mission work, over the course of a long career Ekvall served in various capacities as an interpreter, military intelligence officer, and professor of anthropology, publishing many books and articles on Tibetan culture. The slides, which were donated by a member of his wife's family, include images of nomadic yak herders, the lamasary at Lhamo, and travel in the Himalayas, as well as photographs of family and friends.

Now Available on Video: Travelogue Filmmaker Thayer Soule's Mexico, Wonderful Mexico

This 1975 feature-length motion picture travelogue by independent travel lecturer Thayer Soule includes scenes of contemporary urban life in Mexico City as well as more traditional lifestyles found in historic provincial capitals such as Oaxaca and Guadalajara. One of 36 titles received as part of Soule’s collection, Mexico, Wonderful Mexico provides an excellent illustration of his comprehensive approach to travelogue filmmaking. The film includes such diverse images as a colossal Olmec stone head at La Venta and a modern-day Volkswagon manufacturing plant in Puebla. An audio recording of Soule lecturing about the film is also available.

Soule, who began his career as a photographer while serving in the U.S. military, is well known for the spirit of professionalism that he brought to travelogue filmmaking, a field that developed along the margin between amateur and commercial filmmaking. Soule was introduced to filmmaking in the 1930s by Burton Holmes, considered by many to be one of the originators of the travelogue (or ‘scenic’) film genre. Search the HSFA catalog for additional Thayer Soule films ...

Film Archives Fellow Amy Staples Arrives

Amy Staples has joined the Human Studies Film Archives as its first postdoctoral fellow. Staples recently earned her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her dissertation examined popular expeditionary films produced in Africa, New Guinea and the Amazon during the 1930s-1950s. As a postdoctoral fellow, she will research early expeditionary films sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and other scientific institutions, museums and universities.

Film Archivist Lynanne Rollins: Moving On

Lynanne Rollins, a processing archivist in the Human Studies Film Archives since June 2001, departed in January when private funding for her position ran out. Rollins was essential in helping the HSFA to process an enormous backlog of film collections, and was instrumental in helping the archives during its move to the Museum Support Center last March. We will miss her expertise, cheerfulness and commitment to the archive's goals.

More News ...

Publication date: February 2003

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