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University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Films

In its 120-year history, the University of Pennsylvania Museum has collected nearly one million objects, many obtained directly through its own field excavations or anthropological research. Three gallery floors feature materials from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bible Lands, Mesoamerica, Asia and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as artifacts from native peoples of the Americas, Africa and Polynesia. This collection on the Internet Archive represents a portion of the motion picture fi...

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In its 120-year history, the University of Pennsylvania Museum has collected nearly one million objects, many obtained directly through its own field excavations or anthropological research. Three gallery floors feature materials from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bible Lands, Mesoamerica, Asia and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as artifacts from native peoples of the Americas, Africa and Polynesia. This collection on the Internet Archive represents a portion of the motion picture film collection housed at the Museum. Please note that cataloging and identification of subjects will progress over a period of time

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds copyright to these films. Please contact the Penn Museum Archives at 215-898-8304 or at to request permission to reproduce this footage.

Watson Kintner Collection
Watson Kintner (1890-1979) was a Chemical Engineer with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), where he was an early pioneer in the standardization of the vacuum tube. Over a period of 36 years he traveled to more than 30 individual countries, beginning in 1933. Kintner's first trip was to Mexico (where he filmed painter Diego Rivera), followed by visits to Guatemala, Guyana, Ecuador, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Australia, Iran, and Ethiopia, and many other countries. A talented amateur photographer, he filmed over 400 reels, mostly color, with a 16mm camera. He recorded with great detail the daily lives, environment, and work of the traditional cultures he visited – including handicrafts, home industries, dwellings, household arrangements, personal dress and adornment, agricultural techniques and equipment, local commerce, etc. – and largely avoided more obvious tourist destinations. Please note: Proper names and other terms have been derived from Kintner's notes and do not necessarily reflect current usage.

What In the World
What in the World?® was the Penn Museum's Peabody Award-winning popular weekly half-hour television program which was first seen in 1951 and which ran for 14 years. By the early 1960s it was one of the oldest programs on television, bringing positive reviews and a steady stream of fanmail to the Museum which continues to this day. On each What in the World?® program, four or five unidentified objects were presented to a panel of experts who were asked to guess what each piece was, where it came from, how old it was, and how it was used. Objects were selected from storerooms and had never before been seen by the panel. Before the experts guessed, the audience was told what the object was, and, during the course of the program, could watch the thought processes of real --and often fallible!-- anthropologists and archaeologists. After they had completed their identification, the moderator, Froelich Rainey, Director of the Museum, told them whether they were right and if not, gave the correct identification. Only four episodes of the show survive. The special guest on one of these was the famous actor (and collector) Vincent Price. Two other episodes of What in the World can be seen in the Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Archives, see and

Arthur and Kate Tode Collection
Arthur Monroe Tode (1894-1966), and Kate Eisig Tode (1905-1990), who christened their films with the combined nickname "Kahop" (Kate +"Hop") were great 20th century travelers and avid film amateurs who documented their journeys, and edited them with inter-titles perhaps to be shown at parties or meetings of their clubs. The Tode travelogues begin with their honeymoon in the 1920's. In the years that followed they traveled by sea, air, and automobile across the United States and around the world, with a 16mm camera in hand. Actually, there were two 16mm cameras in the family, as you can see Kate filming in some of Arthur's films, so the authorship of individual films is likely mixed. The Todes were early members of the Circumnavigators Club, and traveled the entire globe by longitude- one of the requirements for membership of the club- at least twice.. Arthur, a Chief Engineer and Lieutenant in the Navy in WW I, was the founder of the Propeller Club of New York in 1923, and both the Todes served as officers of the club, created to advocate for the role of the Merchant Marines and marine commerce in general. The films that they made depict countries that in some cases have changed completely, been renamed, or redrawn, and much of the material culture and cultural practices are now utterly transformed. Kate Tode donated the films to the University of Pennsylvania Museum shortly after Arthur's death, before she moved to Australia, around 1979. Arthur Tode's personal papers can be found at the Stephen B. Luce SUNY Maritime College Library. Other notable contributions of the Todes include establishment of an Aquarium at U.C. San Diego. After Arthur’s death, Kate continued being active in environmental and natural world concerns in her adopted country of Australia, where there is still a park named in her honor. The earliest films in the Tode’s Penn collection are 16mm black and white diacetate reversal, and are the best preserved of the Tode collection.

Harry B. Wright Collection
Harry B. (Bernard) Wright (1897-1958), an orthodontist practicing in Philadelphia, was also a passionate traveler and amateur filmmaker. A member of the Explorer's Club in New York City, Dr. Wright also wrote a book based on his travels, A Witness to Witchcraft (1957), which was originally to be titled My Colleague, the Witch Doctor. Dr. Wright traveled to and made 16mm films in several countries, in Latin America, West Africa, and Oceania (New Guinea). One produced film, some elements of which we may have in our collection, was called Savages in Paradise (1954), and took place in Papua New Guinea. We do not seem to have a complete print of this film or know where another print exists. Dr. Wright does not seem to have consulted with anthropologists or area specialists in his investigations outside of his own culture. Several of his films have voyeuristic aspects and might be viewed with this concern in mind.
It can be noted that there was another Harry Wright making amateur travelogue films at the same time, whose films can be found at the Library of Congress. Thanks to research by Magdalena Acosta of the Mexican Film Archives we have distinguished the two creators, her emphasis on the latter reveals him to be an American living mostly in Mexico City, note also that the latter Harry Wright had no middle name.

Mrs J. Shipley Dixon Collection
Mrs. J. Shipley Dixon (Annette P. Dixon) (19-- – 19--), was a Philadelphia lady, traveler and amateur filmmaker. Although she was an avid traveler, she seemed to be most interested in gardens and architecture. Likely most of her travel adventure films were made after the passing of her first husband, Mr. Caspar Wistar Hacker, and before marrying her second husband, Mr. John Shipley Dixon, a University of Pennsylvania alumnus (1908 and 1911). According to her husband’s obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer of 8/10/1960, “(Mrs. Dixon) was well known for her interest in travel films”. The films in the Dixon collection were donated to the Museum in 1941, soon after her second marriage. See also Mrs Dixon's earlier film, made during her first marriage

Mary Butler Collection
Dr. Mary Butler, (Mrs. Clifford Lewis III) (1904 -1970),was a noted archaeologist who specialized in Mayan ceramics of Guatemala, and Native American archaeology of the Hudson Valley and Western Pennsylvania. She was a graduate of Vassar College and Radcliffe College, after study at the Sorbonne, eventually earning a PHD at University of Pennsylvania. She was a research assistant of the American section of the Penn Museum for 30 years during which time she worked in Piedras Negras, later Alta Verapaz and Quiche, Guatemala. In 1939 she became director of the Hudson Valley Archaeological Survey. Dr. Butler’s film footage contained in the Penn Museum collections consists of fieldwork documentation in Guatemala and Hudson River Valley digs.

J. Alden Mason Collection
J. Alden Mason (1885-1967),was a Penn Museum Anthropologist in the American section for over 25 years.In his anthropology work he was greatly involved with Middle and South American and specifically Mayan linguistics and cultures. Later he expanded his interests to include archaeology. The Mason films in the Penn Museum collection relate to field work pursued long after his official retirement, possibly in connection with a dig that he worked on in Chiapas, Mexico.

Frank G. Speck Collection
Dr. Frank Gouldsmith Speck (1881-1950) was the founder of the Anthropology department at the University of Pennsylvania. There were previous courses taught by Dr. George Byron Gordon in 1904-1907, however the department was formed by Dr. Speck in 1910, where he remained chairman for forty years. Although familiar with ethnographies of many parts of the world, he felt the closest affinity for the Algonquian and Iroquoian Indians of the Eastern United States. The film "Glimpses of Life Among the Catawba and Cherokee Indians of the Carolinas" is the only film by Dr. Speck in the Penn Museum collection, a very few other films can be located in the collections of the American Philosophical Society.

Mato Grosso Expedition Collection
In 1930 an eclectic group of scientists and “adventurers” headed to Mato Grosso Brazil from New York harbor to make a scientific record of flora and fauna, and basic ethnographic field work with São Lourenço Bororo people; and Xingu people. The expedition was chiefly funded by E.R.Fenimore Johnson, heir to the Johnson Victrola fortune, and son of University Museum benefactor E.R. Johnson. E.R. Fenimore Johnson was keenly interested in sound recording technology and film as well, and in several newspaper accounts of the day remarked that more than anything he wished to have sync sound film recordings of indigenous people speaking their languages, as well as natural environmental sounds. In this he was conscious of being at the beginning, intentionally producing likely the first documentary film with sound made in the field. He took with him the cameraman Floyd Crosby, just back from working with Robert Flaherty on Tabu. Crosby ended up taking control of direction of the film that they made in the field Matto Grosso, the Great Brazilian Wilderness.(1931) [Not streamed in this collection] as well as the short film The Hoax, now housed at the HSFA Smithsonian. Streamed on the Internet Archive are outtakes of the 1931 film, and also two later derivative films Primitive People of Matto Grosso: The Bororo (1941 and Primitive People of Matto Grosso: The Xingu (1941). These later films were edited by the well know avant-garde filmmaker Ted Nemeth and narrated by Lowell Thomas, unfortunately using a severely prejudicial script written by anthropologist Vincenzo Petrullo. We do not know why the script is written with such painful racial stereotypes, perhaps Petrullo was attempting to pander to the perceived prejudices of the audiences of the day. Contrasting the earlier 1931 film and the 1941 Bororo film is instructive, it reveals how the same footage can be manipulated by a narrative to give quite a different reading.

Gordion Expedition Collection
In 1950, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology began excavations at the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordion in central Turkey. The Museum's Gordion Project continues into the new century, with researchers from many disciplines and with many specializations contributing to a growing-and sometimes changing-body of information and understanding about this complex and multifaceted site, inhabited by peoples and diverse civilizations for millennia. In its seventh season, in 1957, the early Gordion expedition team, led by Dr. Rodney Young, made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. In the largest burial mound at the site, they located what eventually came to be identified as the tomb of Gordion's most famous son, King Midas. This part of the fieldwork is best covered by the Gordion collection films. For further information on the expedition please visit the following site,

Sitio Conte / Cocle Expedition Collection
In 1940 the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology decided to investigate Sitio Conte, which belonged to a private landowner, located approximately ten miles from the Pacific Ocean in the province of Coclé about a hundred miles west of Panama City. A very small portion of the pre-Columbian cemetery, estimated to cover four or five acres in its entirety, was selected for excavation. The expedition dug a main trench 54 feet in length, 27 feet in width, and 13 feet in depth at its maximum. A second, smaller trench was dug also. About thirty burials and/or caches were encountered, ranging from grave lots with a few vessels to burials of ten feet square containing hundreds of pottery vessels as well as objects of stone, carved bone, gold, and other materials. In the most elaborate burial, No. 11, there were twenty-three individuals, one supplying at least half of the gold objects found as well as the finest in quality To read in more detail about this discovery, visit the following site:

Tikal Expedition Collection
Due to its inaccessible location in the jungles of the Petén, Guatemala, the great Maya city of Tikal was only briefly visited by explorers until the Museum organized a large-scale project of excavation and restoration with the assistance of the Guatemalan government. Beginning in 1956, under the successive leadership of Edwin Shook, Robert H. Dyson, Jr., and William R. Coe, archaeological investigations cleared many of the important buildings and revealed the dynastic, architectural, and settlement history of one of the most important Maya cities.

Mongolian Collection
In the summer of 2000 Dr. Paula L.W. Sabloff traveled to Mongolia to film nomadic people today in conjunction with an exhibit that was to be put on at Penn Museum the following year, entitled Modern Mongolia, Reclaiming Genghis Khan. Dr. Sabloff was joined by cameraman Tom Gillern, and crew member Heather Marshall, who used a mini dv camera to videotape extensive interviews with Mongolian people from various backgrounds to give an overview of lifestyles today, as well as scenes of life on the Mongolian steppes. This collection contains the unedited tapes from the sessions, together with metadata gathered onsite. For further information on the exhibit please see the exhibition catalog, Modern Mongolia, Reclaiming Genghis Khan, Paula L.W. Sabloff ed., University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the National Museum of Mongolian History, Ulaanbator. 2001 ISBN 0924171901

For permissions and acquisition of footage, call the Penn Museum Archives at 215-898-8304, visit our rights and reproductions form, or email

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology reserves
all rights in the usage of the film footage in this collection, for which
it owns full rights.

Created on
October 4
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