In 1995 an employee at KRMA-TV contacted the Denver Museum of
Nature & Science regarding a collection of 16 mm films he had
rescued from the trash. The employee also had been volunteering
with the Anthropology Department at the Museum and knew the films
would be a valuable addition to the collections. The films are the
Red Man's America series, which was originally filmed
to be a telecourse for the University of Denver in the late 1950s.
Anthropologist Ruth Underhill produced and narrated the series, and
the films are part of her collection in the DMNS Archives.
The films corresponded with Underhill's book of the same title.
Each episode focused on a different region in North America, where
she would discuss the Native Americans of the area. Clothing, art,
food and language were all themes addressed in each televised
Since their donation to the museum, the films were stored in
their original metal cans. The films have recently all
been assessed and moved to archival quality cans which will
help to protect them for years to come. This assessment included
checking each film for shrinkage, needed repairs and acid levels.
All films are in good shape and were recently cleaned and repaired
in the hopes they will be able to be digitized in the future.
These films are just one component of the Ruth Underhill
Collection at DMNS. The collection also includes her field
journals, research notes, publications, sound recordings, oral
histories, correspondence and photographs. Underhill was a renowned
anthropologist who predominately studied the people of the American
Southwest from the 1930s until her death in 1984.
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