Online archaeology and anthropology film from Penn
May 3, 2009 1:28 PM   Subscribe

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has put 675 reels of archival 16 mm film online via the Internet Archive. Most of the film is unedited, and stems either from Museum research, or was donated by interested amateurs. Much of it is silent, reflecting the technology of the day. One highlight are the four surviving reels of the long-running TV show 'What in the World" (look for the episode starring Vincent Price), but the archive is full of other hidden gems, such as the 1950s archaeological expedition to Tikal, a 1940 film "A 1000 Mile Road Trip Across America", and Glimpses of Life Among the Catawba and Cherokee Indians of the Carolinas (1927). The films are downloadable in various formats, including MPEG2, Ogg Video, and 512Kb MPEG4. Happy browsing! via.
posted by Rumple (12 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Wonderful post, thanks!
posted by fcummins at 3:05 PM on May 3, 2009

Oooh, this is fun. Great museum too - one of many hidden gems here in Philly.
posted by greekphilosophy at 3:10 PM on May 3, 2009

Nice find—I just watched a film of Rangoon in 1930, only three years after Orwell left. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 3:14 PM on May 3, 2009

Cool. I got to transfer some of those films. Great stuff.
posted by NoMich at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2009

Not to be boyzone, but there are many remarkably beautiful women in the Catawba and Cherokee video. It's very lovely.
posted by Alex404 at 3:27 PM on May 3, 2009

That Rangoon one is great, thanks. Love the shipping. This Lahore & Khyber Pass (1930) film is looking good as well.
posted by Rumple at 3:30 PM on May 3, 2009

The Frank Speck film about the Catawbas is fascinating and a really special document. Speck was the chair of the Penn Anthro dept for many years, and a specialist in the culture of Native American Indian groups that had been prematurely labeled "extinct" - especially those East Coast tribes such as the Catawba, Mohegan, and Nanticoke. He was raised as a sickly kid in the 1890s by Fidelia Fielding, the last speaker of the Mohegan language, and from that he eventually became a linguist and anthropologist (trained under Franz Boas at Columbia U. in the early 20th century) dedicated to the idea that cultures do not "disappear", but adapt.

Amazing to see his Catawba footage. I didn't even know he had filmed any of this. One of these days I'll get around to a Frank Speck FPP....
posted by zaelic at 3:41 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Great post, Rumple, thanks - can't wait to explore more. I am a big fan of historic silent footage - we are so lucky with the glimpses of living history we now get to see via the web - this looks like a great resource.

Add me as a fan of the Catabwa one - I loved seeing the people and was thrilled to see some coil pots being made. Alex404, it is not just you - I found all the people so attractive in that clip.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:50 PM on May 3, 2009

It's totally cool that they're making them available for download in different formats. Excellent stuff.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:49 PM on May 3, 2009

This is why I love the tubes.
posted by dogrose at 8:02 PM on May 3, 2009

> Amazing to see his Catawba footage. I didn't even know he had filmed any of this.

A lot of early anthropologists, especially the ones under Boas (and Boas himself), were huge fans of film and tried to use it as another tool to aid in documenting and recording the events they were witnessing.

I haven't been able to find the article yet, but I remember reading in my undergrad that a lot of northwest tribes have recently been able to reconstruct a lot of their lost traditions by combining their existing verbal history of the events with film and other materials Boas and his students generated.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:46 PM on May 3, 2009

hello doug
posted by ageispolis at 11:14 PM on May 3, 2009

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