Smithsonian Video History Collection Summaries

Black Aviators Interviews, 1989-1990. RU 9545. VHS tapes, 7 hours; transcript, 200 pages. Five black aviators discuss their experiences in the 1930’s. They include C. Alfred Anderson, Janet Harmon Bragg, Cornelius Coffey, Harold Hurd, and Lewis A. Jackson.

Classical Observation Techniques Interviews, 1988, 1991. RU 9534. VHS tapes, 7 hours; transcript, 172 pages. David DeVorkin, National Air and Space Museum, conducted videotaped interviews with five astronomers at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., to examine the increased automation of their field. They include Charles Worley, Thomas E. Corbin, Geoffrey Douglass, F. Stephen Gauss, and Dennis Dean McCarthy.

Conservation of Endangered Species Interviews, 1990. RU 9553. VHS tapes, 13.5 hours; transcript, 225 pages. Pamela M. Henson, Office of the Smithsonian Institution Archives, interviewed researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama; the National Zoological Park (NZP), Washington, D.C.; and the Conservation and Research Center (CRC) of the NZP located in Front Royal, Virginia. Topics include research programs to study environmental issues relating to the tropical rainforest and marine environments in Panama; and at the NZP and CRC, their role in conservation of endangered species through captive breeding and participation in the Species Survival Program, as well as the career of Theodore H. Reed.

Development of the Electrical Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) Interview, 1988. RU 9537. VHS tape, 2.5 hours; transcript, 55 pages. J. Presper Eckert, one of the designers of the first computer, the ENIAC, discussed this work while ENIAC was on display in the National Museum of American History in an exhibit on the history of computing.

DNA Sequencing Interviews, 1989-1990. RU 9549. VHS tapes, 8.8 hours; transcript, 176 pages. Videotaped interviews with scientists and technicians at the California Institute of Technology, Applied Biosystems; and the National Institutes of Health discuss the development of DNA sequencing equipment and techniques. Restricted.

Video Portraits: Margaret J. Geller Interviews, 1989-1990. RU 9546. VHS tapes, 7 hours; transcript, 199 pages. Interviews of Geller (1947- ), an astrophysicist, were recorded at her home, office and laboratory. Topics include family background, intellectual motivation, academic training, and present and future research interests at Harvard University and the Center for Astrophysics. Restricted.

Video Portraits: Riccardo Giacconi, 2004. RU 9617. VHS tapes, 5 hours. Interviews of Giacconi (1931-), an astrophysicist and Nobel Laureate, were conducted by David DeVorkin, Curator, Department of Astronautics, National Air and Space Museum, after a January 22, 2004, symposium in Giacconi’s honor held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and sponsored by its Lemelson Center. The interview discusses his education, research, and career in astrophysics, including his work at the Smithsonian, Project Starfish, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The History of Acuson Ultrasound Machines Interviews, 1997. RU 9593. VHS tapes, 12 hours; transcript, 203 pages. Scientists and other staff at the Acuson Corporation discuss their development of a new approach applying computers to medical ultrasound imaging, the commercial manufacture of the equipment and its clinical application. Interviewees include Bradford C. Anker, Corinne Augustine, David E. Burris, Jackie Ferreira, Amin Hanafy, Gelston Howell, Thomas Jedrzejewicz, Alan Kirby, Jon M. Knight, Hugh G. Larsen, Vaughan Marian, Samuel H. Maslak, Rick Sperry, Liza K. Toth, Worth Walters, and J. Nelson Wright.

The History of the Cell Sorter Interviews, 1991. RU 9554. VHS tapes, 10.33 hours; transcript, 203 pages. Videotaped interviews of Mack Jett Fulwyler, Leonard A. Herzenberg, and their colleagues cover the development of the cell sorter at Los Alamos and Stanford University. Restricted.

History of the Polymerase Chain Reaction, 1992-1993. RU 9577. VHS tapes, 19 hours; transcript, 346 pages. Interviews document the discovery, development, commercialization, and applications of PCR technology. Topics discussed include the invention of the PCR technique, early applications, PCR patent rights, Perkin-Elmer’s joint venture with Cetus, the design and engineering of commercial thermocyclers, marketing and future applications.

International Ultraviolet Explorer Interviews, 1990. RU 9543. VHS tapes, 6.67 hours; transcript, 185 pages. A group of scientists discussed the origins, development, use and administration of the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the first orbiting astronomical telescope.

The Manhattan Project Interviews, 1987-1990. RU 9531. 26 VHS tapes, transcript, 1,188 pages. Stanley Goldberg, National Museum of American History, conducted videotaped interviews with men and women from all phases of the Manhattan Project, often at their wartime workplaces. Topics include how they became involved in the Project, what their jobs entailed, and how they reacted in the ultimate use of their work. Collection Divisions: 1) Hanford Engineering Works in the State of Washington; 2) Clinton Engineering Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; 3) Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico; 4) physicists and administrators at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and the Trinity test site at Alamogordo, New Mexico; 5) Project Alberta and Enola Gay B-29 restoration project.

Medical Imaging Interviews, 1989. RU 9544. VHS tapes, 7.5 hours; transcript, 154 pages; Audio tapes, 4.5 hours; transcript, 96 pages. Robert S. Ledley, designer of the Automatic Computerized Transverse Axial (ACTA) scanner, and his associates discussed the history of the X-ray CT imaging and the development of the ACTA scanner. Restricted.

Minicomputers and Microcomputers Interviews, 1987. RU 9533. VHS tapes, 1.6 hours; transcript, 59 pages. Jon Eklund, National Museum of American History, conducted a videotaped interview with six computer software designers, members of “The Brotherhood.” Douglas Carlston, Ken and Roberta Williams, Margot Comstock, Jerry Jewell, and Dave Albert discuss the creation, marketing, and distribution of microcomputer software, especially computer games, in the late 1970’s and compare their techniques to similar efforts in the mid-1980’s when demand for personal computers leveled off.

Multiple Mirror Telescope Interviews, 1989. RU 9542. VHS tapes, 8.67 hours; transcript, 257 pages. At the Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT) at the Fred Whipple Observatory at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, and the University of Arizona, Fred L. Whipple and other astronomers, engineers, and opticians discussed their roles in the development and operation of the MMT.

Naval Research Laboratory Space Science Interviews, 1986-1987. RU 9539. VHS tapes, 13.97 hours; transcript 390 pages. These interviews at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) contain discussions with six of the scientists who pioneered the sciences of aeronomy and X-ray astronomy.

New United Motor Manufacturing, Incorporated Interviews, 1990. RU 9550. VHS tapes, 6 hours; transcript, 109 pages. In this videotaped tour of the New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated plant, seventeen workers and managers discussed their responses to changes in organization and labor relations. They explained job requirements and manufacturing processes, compared work at NUMMI with that of American management, and discussed conflicting pressures for quality control and productivity.

The Rand Corporation, 1987-1990. RU 9536. VHS tapes, 19.7 hours; transcript, 497 pages. Research and Development Corporation (RAND) of Santa Monica, California, underwritten by the United States Air Force (USAF), represented one of the first “think tanks” dedicated to military and strategic policy. These interviews of former staff members documented their experiences in 1) developing aerial reconnaissance photography for strategic purposes; 2) changes in the intellectual climate at RAND, especially as it related to the development of nuclear strategy in the 1950’s; and 3) computer engineering and programming between 1945 and the 1960’s.

Robotics Interviews, 1989-1990. RU 9552. VHS tapes, 22 hours; transcript, 217 pages. Videotaped interviews were recorded of the field’s practitioners at the University of Maryland at College Park; Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Odetics, Incorporated, Anaheim, California. Professors, students, technicians, and engineers explained design and development processes, and operated their robots.

Smallpox Virus Sequencing Project, 1991. RU 9564. VHS tapes, 3 hours; transcript, 44 pages. Interviews document the start of the project to sequence the smallpox virus genome at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Project staff discussed the history of the smallpox sequencing project and demonstrated the process for sequencing the Bangladesh 1975 strain of the virus.

Smithsonian Institution Paleontology, 1987-1988. RU 9530. VHS tapes, 4.2 hours, transcript, 117 pages. G. Arthur Cooper (1902- ), J. Thomas Dutro, Richard T. Grant, and Ellis L. Yochelson discussed and demonstrated the methods they used to collect, prepare, and analyze fossilized brachiopods. Visual documentation includes group interaction, Devonian and Permian era specimens, the acid etching process, and Cooper’s laboratory.

Soviet Space Medicine Interviews, 1989. RU 9551. VHS tapes, 5.67 hours; transcript, 86 pages in English; audio tape; 1.25 hours; transcript 19 pages in English. Interviews of Drs. Oleg Gazenko, Eugenii Shepelev, Abraham Genin, and technicians Irina Gireeva and Vladimir Magedov cover their research on high altitude and space medicine conducted since the 1950’s.

Twentieth Century Small Arms Development Interviews, 1988-1990. RU 9532. VHS tapes, 15.3 hours; transcript, 215 pages. Edward Ezell, National Museum of American History, conducted videotaped interviews of Eugene M. Stoner of the United States and Mikhail T. Kalashnikov of the Soviet Union, two of the world’s most successful small arms designers. They discussed their careers since World War II and how they worked within their respective military-political systems. Restricted.

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Mariner 2 Interview, 1987. RU 9535. VHS tapes, 3 hours; transcript, 61 pages. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the launch of the Mariner 2, Allan Needell, National Air and Space Museum, convened five of the scientists, engineers, and administrators associated with the spacecraft to discuss their experiences.

Vermont Structural Slate Company Interviews, 1989. RU 9547. VHS tapes, 4 hours; transcript, 63 pages. This videotaped tour of the Vermont Structural Slate quarry in Eureka, Vermont, was recorded to document remaining nineteenth-century techniques before the installation of modern equipment.

Waltham Clock Company Interviews, 1989. RU 9548. VHS tapes, 5.8 hours; transcript, 170 pages. This videotaped tour of the Waltham Clock Company of Waltham, Massachusetts, factory was recorded to document operating machinery and to record the process of making and testing mechanical watches.

More detailed information on any of the above videohistories is available via Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) in the Archival, Manuscript, and Photographic Catalog.

The Guide to the Videohistory Collection is available on-line and without charge. Copies of transcripts and tapes are available for a fee. Contact us at


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