Burton Holmes Materials in Research Collections
For someone who changed the world, his legacy in archives is spotty and incomplete. Here is what we know about holdings in various places.
The Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian Institution is a good place to start looking for information about Holmes and his work. On the web we can see that in 2003 Stasia Millett donated to their archive a "Film collection of professionally produced ethnographic and natural history titles marketed for home consumption in the twenties and thirties by companies such as Kodak Cinegraph, Burton Holmes Travel Film-Reels and Pathegrams." They are described more fully as a collection originally put together by her father and featuring "Burton Holmes Film-Reels of Travel" including Canton China, Making Manila Cigars, From Cocoon to Kimono, Tonga Isles, and several titles marketed for the Century of Progress Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair 1933-34).
UCLA holds the glass slide collection created by Holmes in his years as a photographer and lecturer. There may have been as many as 20,000 slides, kept as one of the special collections of the Department of Art. This is described more fully in the discussion on hand-painted slides.
The Library of Congress has some Holmes films from various dates; first we list two from their online catalog:
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS EXPOSITION: AROUND THE FAIR WITH BURTON HOLMES [NO. 2]
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS EXPOSITION: INDIAN VILLAGE
Also at the LoC some additional films, identified and described in 1990 by Fatimah Rony; see her 1996 book "The Third Eye: Race, Cinema and Ethnographic Spectacle" (Duke, 1996):
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS: DARKEST AFRICA
AN INDIAN DURBAR
THE MELTING POT OF THE PACIFIC
SIGHTS OF SUVA
Ms Rony comments: "Not a complete list."
The Burton Holmes' film "Seeing London" is online at the Internet Archive. You can watch it via streaming media if you have a fast connection, or download it to your computer. (Warning! it is very large.) Running time, 13 minutes.
The Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Holmes wrote descriptions for numerous stereoscopic slide sets for Keystone, concentrating on travel destinations and remote locations. Was this a precursor of BHI's interest in Holography?
The Keystone-Mast stereographic collection at the University of California, Riverside. Click on "Permanent Collections" and then select this one. Of course, there are others you may want to take a llok at.
Update history: This page created 10 May 2004. Revised 27 November 2006.