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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Smithsonian Institution:
Human Studies Film Archives

Address: National Museum of Natural History
Room E307, MRC 123
Washington, DC 20560
Telephone Number: (202) 357-3356
Fax Number: (202) 357-2208
Contact Persons: Pamela Wintle, Film Archivist;
Daisy Njoku, Media Resource Specialist
Email Address:[email protected]
Internet Catalog Address: telnet to or
(HSFA located in the Archives and Manuscripts Catalog)

Access Policies

Open to the public: Temporarily closed to the public September 2000-June 2001
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: No

The Human Studies Film Archives is normally open open by appointment during scheduled hours of service, and requests that researchers give 48 hour or more notice to ensure availability of staff and/or viewing equipment. In preparation for its move to new quarters at the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland, the Archives will temporarily close its doors between September 2000 and June 2001. Archives staff will continue to provide reference and duplication services as moving conditions permit; for more information, call (202) 357-1986.

Reference Policy:
Telephone and mail questions are accepted from anyone with a legitimate reference question.
Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution.
Background Note:
The Human Studies Film Archives was established by the Smithsonian Institution in 1981. The program is now part of the National Anthropological Archives.
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Description of Collections

Videos and Sound Recordings:
The collection holds over 300 films and video tapes with inclusive dates from 1920 to the present. Religions, in the broadest sense, from all major geographical areas are represented in the HSFA collections. Strengths lie in several areas: traditional religious beliefs and practices of the world's people; Tibetan Buddhism; and footage taken of and by Christian missionaries of indigenous peoples and missionary activities. Imagery can also be found on Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.

SIRIS, the computerized catalog, covers this collection.

Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
Over 2,000 color slides and color and black and white photographs from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. This collection accompanies the HSFA film and video collections. The emphases are the same as those given above under the film description.

Subject Headings

African religions; Buddhism; Candomble; Catholic Church; Church buildings; Comparative religion; Death--religious aspects; Indigenous religion; Prayer; Reincarnation; Religion--United States; Religious art; Religious syncretism; Revitalization movements; Revivals; Ritual; Saints; Shamanism; Shinto; Shrines; Snake handling; Spirit possession; Spiritualism; Symbolism; Tantrism; Totemism; Umbanda; Voodoo; Women and religion; Worship


Wintle, Pamela and John P. Homiak. Guide to the Collections of the Human Studies Film Archives. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1995. Available HTTP. URL

Wintle, Pamela. "Human Studies Film Archives, National Museum of Natural History". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. Vol. 16, No. 1 (1996).

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  June 22, 2017
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